This article contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.
It’s been over a year since I’ve witnessed Gamora, one of the most strong-willed women of the Marvel universe, die by the hands of her own abuser.
I know that Avengers: Endgame is a three-hour film with an ungodly amount of baggage to sort through. I know that not only were directors Anthony and Joe Russo challenged with crafting a satisfying conclusion for our original six Avengers, but they were also tasked with forging a new direction for all other characters within the 22 movie franchise, post the aftermath of the cosmic-shattering events of Infinity War. Knowing all this to be true, and all that was at stake, I entered the theater aware that there was no possible way all of the Marvel fan community, with their own favorite characters and unique emotional investments, could realistically walk out of Endgame fully pleased with what they had watched; and yet, despite knowing all of this, even despite enjoying most of what I saw in Endgame, I’ve still had a festering, empty feeling in my heart over one character: Gamora.
I am aware that I will always carry a bias here. The Guardians of the Galaxy movies mean a lot to me. I love how over the top they are, from their nostalgic needle drops to their sometimes overbearing amounts of sentimentality. I love that they are two calculated, messy movies about scarred and lonely people full of regret, who realize that they are stronger together and that there is a greater meaning of life in the family connection they choose in each other. I’ll save you the specific details, but as someone with a messy relationship with my own blood family, and as someone who’s strongest emotional connections are amongst friends from all sorts of different places, these themes especially ring true. Gunn’s two Guardians films often pass boundaries (i.e. “green whore” line from Drax in Vol. 1, or the many jokes about severed limbs from Rocket) but despite all of that, they’re always being told from a place of sincerity and genuine growth that has struck a chord with me since seeing them on their opening weekends.
While watching Avengers: Infinity War, there was a specific moment where Doctor Stephen Strange, Sorcerer Supreme and protector of the time stone, duplicates himself. His many arms stretch out of his body like a hypnotic spider, and he proceeds to multiply to throw Thanos off guard in the middle of a tense battle. The audience erupted in applause, but I couldn’t help but feel unnerved at the display of blatant cultural appropriation. What could have been a triumphant moment of pride for me, had Strange been played by an Asian actor, was instead one of alienation. So here I am, with the goal to talk about this issue head-on. To do so effectively, we’re going to have to go back to the beginning.
Doctor Strange’s existence in the MCU has been a problem for me ever since he was cast, as there has always been an issue with the original source material, and the on-screen interpretation of the character has not done anything to fix it. When he was introduced into the comic sphere in 1963 with Strange Tales #110, there was a mass hippie craze for any “exotic” culture. The Sorcerer Supreme’s lore and imagery were heavily inspired by Tibetan and South-East Asian Buddhist folklore and legends. Obviously, it was never thought at the time how harmful it is to take an external culture and exploit it for aesthetics, but he was actually never explicitly caucasian until he became a popular character and was implemented into other storylines.
After the record shattering release of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, we made a video edit to commemorate the 19 Marvel Cinematic Universe films over the past 10 years. Not all of them appear in the edit, but we wanted to tribute the characters, moments, and the emotions that make the trip to the cinema so special.
The Much Ado team will start creating even more video content in the next few months, so be on the lookout! Follow us on Twitter @muchadocinema for updates!
This past week has been an emotional rollercoaster for Marvel fans. 10 years, 19 films, and a lot of heroes have been leading us into Infinity War. Now that we’ve all seen, and grieved over the film, it’s time to talk about it. Much Ado writers talk about their favourite scenes, problems and most importantly, about Carrie Coon’s cameo, in conversation.
In the post-credits scene of Iron Man, Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury approaches Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) about the Avengers Initiative. “Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe — you just don’t know it yet,” Fury says. Moviegoers were also being introduced to a bigger universe they didn’t know of yet. This one scene incited a tidal wave of change within pop culture — the superhero genre no longer had its nerdy reputation and the shared universe seemed entirely possible, no longer constrained to the pages of comic books. Back in 2008, no one could’ve guessed that 10 years later, a Norse god flying through space with a talking raccoon would practically be commonplace.