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Avengers: Endgame team again defends film's all-female scene

The Avengers: Endgame team is still happy they put the film's ladies in formation.

In Slashfilm's definitive oral history of the movie's enormous, climactic battle sequenceAvengers: Endgame co-writers Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus, editor Jeff Ford, and executive producer Trinh Than defended the decision to feature all of the women of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in one shot — a moment that sparked controversy among some fans.

Female superheroes have been an integral part of the MCU for years — thanks to fierce fighters like Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and more. However, the headlining superheroes throughout the MCU's films have all been men, with Captain Marvel as the only current exception. But with Captain Marvel confirmed as the MCU's most powerful hero and with Black Widow's standalone prequel movie forthcoming, this year was time for these Marvel-ous women to finally get their due, and the writers wanted to pay homage to all of the incredible females in the MCU during Avengers: Endgame.

Than said the moment was nothing short of magical, especially thanks to the on-set audience: "To sort of pay tribute to our female heroines in the MCU and give them a moment to shine was very personal to me. I had no idea that there were so many female crew members and we all took this gigantic photo together with all our our ten lead female heroines lined up in the front. It was amazing. We didn't think it was going to be a big moment. Sure, it was personal to everybody, but to see everybody show up because it was so important to them made it such a big moment for everybody."

For his part, Ford recalled that the filming process was awe-inspiring and so rewarding. He noted that the sequence was "one of the most amazing things [he'd ever seen" and the work that went into it was nothing short of impressive. 

"They were all so great, and they were all so in it. They brought so much attitude to that thing that was just right on," said Ford. "We shot that shot about four or five times. It was all we could do, because it was crazy -- it was really hard to do, because it involved the camera moving on this small stage to get enough running time. It wasn't a huge stage, but they ran a lot, so we had to run them on this thing and the rigging was really difficult to pull off."

When the Endgame team got the take they were after, the cast and crew erupted in celebration. As Ford tells it, "We got through it, and there was a big cheer, and everybody was super happy, and all of the women on the set got together and took a group photo. I thought that was just the coolest thing ever. I had chills that moment. It was one of those things where you can't do that in anything other than a series like this where all of those characters, you have a relationship with."

These remarks come after Markus and McFeely opened up to The New York Times in May 2019 about the scene. McFeely noted that the team "like[d] it too much" to get rid of it, even with the risk of it coming across as fan-service-y, while Markus said that "part of the fun of the Avengers movies has always been team-ups," and the "badass women" deserved that kind of moment.

Avengers: Endgame co-director Anthony Russo also said of the scene, "Looking back on the entire road that the MCU has traveled, it just struck us how many amazing female characters have entered the [franchise]. I think it was really, for us, a moment of celebration and acknowledgment of the intensity and empowerment in that."

Was Endgame's all-girl scene powerful or pandering?

As amazing as the Avengers: Endgame team felt the all-female scene was, the question still stood: Was it a pandering effort to prove that the MCU is female-friendly? 

Ford admitted that he had his doubts about the sequence early on: "I remember being like, God, is this going to work? Are people going to buy this, or are they going to go, 'Oh, come on, guys!'"

Markus chimed in to share a hilarious moment that happened during a test screening, which ultimately confirmed for him that the girl-power scene needed to stay in Avengers: Endgame. "Literally, one of the comments at a test screening was, 'It's pandering. Don't you dare cut it,'" he said. 

McFeely's overall perspective on the scene's importance was the most resonant: "Emotional logic wins every time. So I recognize that there are some people who are like, 'it's pretty convenient that all of the ladies are all in one spot,' but the eight-year-old girl next to me loses her mind and wears a T-shirt, and I'm good with it."

Markus, McFeely, and the rest of the film's team might still love this sequence, but in the aftermath of Endgame's release, many audience members felt that one brief moment just wasn't enough service to the amazing women of Marvel — especially since nobody speaks in the scene, instead quickly dispersing to fight, and it doesn't really do anything for the film's overall narrative. Ultimately, the women of Marvel don't even have any true bearing on the battle's outcome. Though Captain Marvel fights bravely against the all-powerful Thanos (Josh Brolin), everything comes down to Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), who sacrifices himself to destroy Thanos once and for all.

To make matters worse, a certain faction of fans decided to take their worldview a step too far and delete all of the women from the final cut of Endgame in a crudely-made edit — making it clear that despite the MCU's best efforts, some people would still take the cinematic universe's progress back even further.

No matter what some might think about the all-female scene in Avengers: Endgame, it was certainly an encouraging effort from the MCU. With plenty of female powerhouses coming up in future films — from Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow getting her own solo movie to Natalie Portman's Jane Foster becoming the Mighty Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder to Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie being confirmed as the first openly LGBTQ+ hero in the MCU – the House of Heroes is sure to make even more strides soon.