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Spoiler-Filled Review: We Need To Talk About Black Widow's Role In Avengers: Endgame

*SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS AHEAD*

WARNING: So many spoilers ahead.

There’s a moment in the final battle of Avengers: Endgame which is supposed to be quite powerful. A newly-resurrected Peter Parker needs help, and the person who comes to his rescue is Captain Marvel. Followed by Valkyrie. And Wanda. And Okoye. And Shuri. And the Wasp. And pretty much every female hero in the franchise. They smirk as they move forward against the enemy in a moment of supercharged sisterhood.

But there’s someone crucial missing, and it makes the whole scene ring even more hollow than it would otherwise. Marvel may be trying to telegraph a giant “look, we’re woke now!” sign with this scene, but that doesn’t negate over a decade of terrible treatment of their female characters – including in this very movie.

Black Widow is missing from the line up, you see, because she gets killed off about halfway through Avengers: Endgame. That’s right, the original – and for a long time, only – female superhero in the MCU isn’t there for the final showdown, unlike all of her male counterparts. She sacrifices herself to get the Soul Stone and save everyone else – most notably, to save Clint from sacrificing himself. He’s got a family, see. He’s got kids. He has to go home to them.

Nat, on the other hand, as we’re reminded time and again, has no one. The Avengers are her family. Her work is her life. While all the other heroes try to pick up the pieces of their tattered lives in the wake of Thanos’ snap and move on, Nat clings to the past, and to the idea she can still save the world. It’s admirable, sure. And without Nat half the universe would still be dusted. But the overarching plot doesn’t recognise her importance, and the message it sends is clear. Her life is worth less than others – than the men around her – because she doesn’t have a life. She’s not a wife or a mother, so the best she can do is die for her platonic male partner.

Nat’s fate in Endgame adds insult to the injury of the backstory she was given in previous movies. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, we learn that Nat was forcibly sterilised as a result of her “training”. She’s clearly traumatised by the event, with it appearing in her Wanda-induced nightmare visions. Most problematically of all, when Nat tells Bruce about it, she describes herself as a “monster”. It’s meant to be a way for the two of them to connect. Nat, an infertile woman, is placing herself on the same level as Bruce, who turns into literal giant green murderous rage monster. Bruce doesn’t challenge her on the assumption, and neither does the wider plot.

The cumulative narrative of Nat’s life and death is that her story doesn’t have value except in how it serves the male characters. Hell, she’s never even been deemed worthy of her own solo movie before now. She’s always been the secondary lead, the back-up, the accessory in someone else’s story. And yet she always held her own with the big boys – with the literal gods – and she held the team together. There was plenty to be explored in her character and her story, but she never got the spotlight. While she might be getting a solo outing in future, after everything that’s happened, it’s too little, too late.

When Nat dies in Endgame, the team takes a moment to mourn. Then they pull together, ready to fight. It’s what Nat would have wanted, of course. But it means Endgame quickly moves on from her death and she’s all but forgotten by the time the credits roll. In stark (no pun intended) contrast, Tony is given an extended death scene with those he loves, plus a post-death message, plus a funeral that reunites all major and minor characters from the MCU, surrounded by their families. He deserves nothing less, of course. He is the one who started this whole thing, and has been one of the central figures across the franchise.

But then, so has Black Widow. And if she hasn’t been as large a character as Tony Stark or Steve Rogers or Thor, well, that was Marvel’s choice.

She deserved better, and so did we all.

The True Magic Of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Is In Smashing The Patriarchy

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, smash it til it's naught but rubble.

Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is full of ghosts, demons and the literal devil, but they are far from the scariest parts of the show – not by a long shot.

The most ~chilling~ aspect is actually the toxic masculinity of so many of the male characters. And the true villain?

Well, that’s the patriarchy.

Season 1 sets up this theme by following Sabrina’s struggle with her decision to join the Church of Night. If she does, she gets incredible powers, but she also signs away her freedom, forced to do the bidding of the Dark Lord whenever he demands it. When Sabrina questions why she can’t have both freedom and power, fellow witch Prudence explains that the Dark Lord would never allow it – because the thought terrifies him.

“He’s a man, isn’t he?” Prudence explains.

This idea of men feeling threatened by powerful women is built on in the character of Father Blackwood, the high priest of the Church of Night. In one of the most gut-churning scenes of Season 1, we see him gathering the men of his coven and presenting them with his newborn son, Judas, declaring that it’s their time to rise.

Yep, it turns out that, with a few exceptions, the warlocks of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are, in fact, men’s rights activists.

They perceive persecution where there is none, and see equality as oppression. And when they don’t get their own way in the show, as in life, they become violent.

The second season takes this theme and runs with it. Father Blackwood creates a manifesto to reform the Church of Night, which would see all witches subjugated and subservient to warlocks.

He marries Sabrina’s aunt Zelda, one of the show’s most powerful women, and casts a spell on her that that turns her into a Stepford wife. Meanwhile, as Sabrina resists the devil’s bidding at every turn and tries to reinstate her own agency, she’s punished for it time and again.

Then there’s Madame Satan, who fled the garden of Eden because she refused to be less than equal to Adam but was then essentially enslaved by Lucifer, willingly placing herself in chains on the promise of equality that never actually eventuates.

As for Lucifer himself, he’s a man alright, whose true evil is in the way he wants to possess, dominate and control the women in his life. In his grab for power, Father Blackwood is a truer disciple of the Dark Lord than either of them perhaps realise.

All of this occurs within the context of a world where the witches are, repeatedly, the ones with the strongest magic. But, of course, they have to navigate the patriarchal confines they find themselves in, which work to pit them against each other and minimise their power.

It’s only when they come together to cast off these confines that the full force of their power can be unleashed and – without giving too much away – they can overcome the men who would seek to bring them down.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is by no means a perfect feminist text. The first season in particular at times feels like nothing more than lip service to the modern intersectional movement. But Season 2 does a better job of exploring these themes in greater depth, while cleverly subverting the traditional hero’s journey Sabrina goes on.

Above all else, it shows that toxic masculinity is the true horror story of our generation – and that real magic happens when girls are able to fully embrace their own power.

This Detail In Captain Marvel Could Be A Massive Clue For Avengers: Endgame

Carol Danvers has changed the game.

Spoilers ahead for Captain Marvel, all the way through!

Ever since Thanos snapped his big purple fingers and wiped out half the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Avengers: Infinity War, fans have been speculating about how his actions might be reversed in Avengers: Endgame.

So when Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige teased the fact that Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson) would be the most powerful hero in the MCU, it seemed obvious that she would be the key to defeating Thanos.

Eyyyyyyy!

After all, she wasn’t around when the evil gem-hoarder won the first time, and she’s crucially been introduced in her own movie not two months before the release of Avengers: Endgame. She’s the main point of difference between the first fight against Thanos and the second (well, there’s also Scott ‘Ant-Man’ Lang and Clint Barton, AKA Hawkeye – but that’s a story for another time).

Captain Marvel confirmed a lot of speculation about just how powerful Carol Danvers is, and there’s no doubt she’s only become more powerful in the intervening time since the ‘90s-set events of that movie. That in itself should be enough to make Thanos start shaking in his giant space-boots.

But an interesting revelation in Captain Marvel could make Carol’s edge even stronger.

Go on…

In the movie, we learn that Carol’s superpowers are actually derived from the Tesseract. The explosion she’s caught up in that forever changes her DNA is caused by Yon-Rogg’s attack on the Tesseract-powered engine built by Kree scientist Mar-Vell.

A quick refresher on the Tesseract: it’s a super important object in the MCU, playing a key role in multiple movies, most significantly in Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers.

It houses the Space Stone, which, as its name suggests, is imbued with the power to manipulate space. It can create portals from one universe to another, which is how Red Skull got yeeted to Vormir (home of the Soul Stone) at the end of The First Avenger.

The Space Stone-generated explosion likely gave Carol herself this power, if her unexpected appearance back on Earth at the Avengers headquarters in the mid-credits scene of Captain Marvel is anything to go by.

Significantly, the Space Stone is also the first stone we see Thanos get his hands on in Avengers: Infinity War, when he attacks the Asgardians and obtains the Tesseract from Loki. If he’s to be defeated in Avengers: Endgame, it makes sense that the Space Stone will be a turning point in the fight against him somehow.

Carol’s Space Stone-powered abilities aren’t just important in themselves, but they might also mean she knows a lot about the stone – how it works and, critically, how it can be manipulated. Maybe she is still connected to it and will be able to manipulate it herself, perhaps without even touching it.

HER POWER.

Or maybe it’ll all come down to the team travelling back in time (as many fans believe), and Carol’s knowledge of the Space Stone’s whereabouts in the ‘90s will be crucial to retrieving it in that time period and preventing Thanos from ever getting it in the first place.

No matter how it happens, one thing’s for sure – Carol Danvers has changed the game, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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