Tag Archives: Pepper Potts

Avengers: Endgame – A Review and a Farewell

Avengers: Endgame Cast - All 59 Returning Characters

I know that this review is really – really – late, and I sincerely apologize for that, readers. Circumstances prevented me from watching Endgame in theaters, and the first time I watched it on DVD…. I didn’t take it well. Saying goodbye to a great franchise has never been easy for this blogger, and she built up a lot of anticipation around this finale. While she was not the only one to do so, she has found meaning in her initial disappointment and turned it into satisfaction.

Since you have waited so long to hear my opinion on this, let’s skip the niceties and jump right in:

Avengers 4 Title Officially Revealed As Avengers: Endgame

Wow. Even after all this time, there is a lot to consider when one looks at Avengers: Endgame. In many ways, the film is a great big love letter from the writers and actors to the fans since this time, the film primarily follows the Avengers. Where Infinity War was mean to pay-off all the fan expectation built up around and for Thanos, the Mad Titan, Endgame is the heroes’ swan song. And it shows. From all the little fun moments such as Scott Lang’s unfortunate first trips through time, to the little in-jokes and jabs the cast give to each other, to the climactic battle at the finale, Endgame is meant to cap and capitalize on an era of great cinema and Marvel-ous storytelling.

If this sounds a bit hyperbolic, it isn’t. While Hollywood has produced a variety of serials in its day, to the best of my knowledge, none have been this extensive. Ten years of united storytelling across twenty-one films (no one with sense is going to count Captain Marvel as anything less than bad fan fiction), the Marvel Cinematic Universe is an unprecedented event in film history. No other serial has had such a variety of stories included in its overarching plot, nor juggled so many characters. And no film serial has ever, as far as this blogger knows, lasted a full ten years!!!

While it had undeniable flaws and individual flops, in retrospect the MCU as a whole really does feel like a series of comic books plastered on the silver screen. I personally think the quality of the films began to fall off after Captain America: Civil War, but even that caveat cannot diminish the ultimate success of the franchise. Stan Lee, Don Heck, Steve Ditko, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, and so many other writers built Marvel Comics into one of the towering titans of popular culture. This series of films is the crowning culmination of their hard work.

The heroes are all here in Endgame. Hawkeye’s arc, while less pronounced than in Age of Ultron, is nonetheless an astounding piece of work. Jeremy Renner is said to have come out of the theater in tears, and after watching his performance, I can see why. Not only is this the last time he and Clint Barton – along with the other actors and their characters – will be on the big screen together, but this is a role that only comes once in a lifetime. To be part of something this impressive, even if the part he must play is not as big as fans think it could have been, is a tremendous privilege.

Why Did Black Widow Die Instead of Hawkeye in Endgame ...

Black Widow comes full circle in her search for redemption in this story. Abused and manipulated as a child, she finally finds a family in the Avengers. And when that family is shattered by an outside force, she does everything she can to hold its remnants together. When the ultimate sacrifice becomes necessary to resuscitate the sparks of the Avengers’ fire, she only hesitates because she fears the cost will be too much for her best friend to bear. Though death holds no appeal for her, she knows how much worse a living death is, and she is more than willing to pay the price needed to save everyone she loves. It is a truly great moment, one that will make actresses throughout history forever envious of Scarlet Johansson.

Admittedly, I am not the biggest fan of what was done to Thor and the Hulk’s characters. But then, I am one of the few people on the planet who does not like Thor: Ragnarok, primarily because it destroyed the tone and themes that were built up in the first two Thor films. (And seriously, who blows up Asgard like that?! Who shatters Mjolnir?! Ugh….!!) It is a funny movie, to be sure, as is some of the comedy attached to Thor in Endgame. But I would have preferred a much more respectful and, yes, serious treatment of the character in this film than the one we got.

While Hulk/Banner’s characterization is less painful, it would have been nice to see him go into full-blown rage mode in the finale. The main reason we were denied this is due to the character who will receive her spotlight in the complaints section of this post. In many ways, though, this Hulk felt like too much of a departure from previous iterations. I liked the Hulk seen in Ragnarok better than the one we have in Endgame and would have preferred to spend a bit more time with him. Still, the great green Professor’s arc and character alteration in Endgame is not so terribly egregious as to be unbearable.

But the piece de resistance of characterization in this film has to be the completion of Captain America and Iron Man’s character arcs. The two have been the backbone on which the entire franchise was built. One represents home and hearth values, the belief and hope in the promise of the country whose flag he wears. The other is the embodiment of the American drive to be better tomorrow than we are today, to reach new heights of prosperity and ingenuity than we currently possess.

The egocentric, irreverent, and braggadocio that Stark presents himself as for the majority of the MCU storyline is a complete one-eighty degree turn from his original interpretation. But perhaps that was not as unhappy a turn of events as this blogger and others believed. Maybe it was, in a roundabout way, an expression of America’s corrupted idea of progress.  Like Stark, America has come to believe that any step forward, no matter how many steps back it forces us to take, is a good thing.

Perhaps it is no accident that Tony’s repeated beatings – from his capture and imprisonment in Afghanistan, to his creation of Ultron, to his signing of the atrociously invasive Sokovia Accords – have occurred in the manner shown throughout the films. The United States has made similar errors during the modern age, though the repercussions have not always been so obvious. As the chickens come home to roost in reality, one can see a reflection of our current self-absorption and (hopefully) our national awakening in Tony Stark’s arc from Iron Man to Endgame.

A happy father and husband in Endgame, Tony can no longer look at the future through the lens of “better technology means a better life.” No matter what new whizz-bang gadget he makes, it can never replace or supersede the joy he has found with Pepper and their daughter. When Cap asks him to “meddle where no man should,” the genius who casually quipped that Ultron would bring about “peace in our time” flatly refuses to upset the home and hearth he has found where he least expected to discover it.

Ever the engineer, however, he cannot allow the chance to make up for his past mistakes that cost himself, the world, and his friends so much. While adamantly declaring that he will not lose what he has gained, he sets out to right one final wrong. In doing so he finally achieves true humility, dying a real hero and a consummate Avenger.

VIDEO: Avengers: Endgame Jokes You Probably Missed | CBR

And what about the man out of time? The symbol of American home and hearth values, the Galahad who represents the best aspirations of the United States? Steve Rogers is as he has ever been. Despite being lost in time he knows there is a reason why he was spared death in the ice sheet. Throughout the films following The First Avenger, he wents searching for that reason, the underlying threat he was called to face beyond the lifespan that any normal man ought to have. He discovered that threat was Thanos, and he did his utmost on the field of battle to stop him in Wakanda. But heart alone is not enough, and the absence of his second-in-command cost them all the battle.

In true the magnanimity of his soul, Steve does not hold this failure against Tony. Rather, he carries its weight on his own shoulders. He was the leader, and the failure of one member of the team is something he must bear in consequence of that duty. While Iron Man was indeed wrong, Steve cannot help but wonder if he could have done something at any point in his life that would have altered the course of events.

So when an opportunity to do just that – to make things right and truly defeat Thanos forever – appears, he seizes on it. Destiny has not abandoned him or his team; it only delayed the inevitable battle until all parties were present and accounted for. Armed with that knowledge he goes to make things right, and does so in the fashion of a real American hero and proud Avenger.

Naturally, after fighting the battle of at least two lifetimes, one must wonder what a man ought to do with himself? Why retire, of course. And few men besides Captain America have earned such a well-deserved retirement. He has fought the good fight and met the enemy he was fated to meet. He has seen him destroyed and his country returned to sanity and safety. With his destiny met and the knowledge that the future is in good hands, he can finally rest, leaving his post to another.

Avengers - Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki

These are the six who made the franchise. They were the heroes who stood astride the pass and told evil to turn back, with force, volume, and enthusiasm. They have earned their happiness and retirement, leaving the future in the capable hands of new heroes such as Falcon, the Scarlet Witch, the Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, Wasp, Spider-Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, and too many others to count. Endgame was their well-earned good-bye, and as painful as it was to watch, it was worth it. The characters have done their duty, and now it is up to the fans to do theirs. Whether that duty is to be a soldier, a business owner, a father or a mother, does not matter. All that matters is that fans of these superheroes acquit themselves as true Avengers ought in their day-to-day lives.

Well, after that poetic overview of the finale to the MCU, which hopefully had some good bits of insight in it, we will cover what I disliked about this film. In truth, most of my complaints are small and have little to do with the writers’ and directors’ choices. The majority of what I found objectionable about this film was forced on it by Marvel Studio and Disney executives more interested in “being hip” than in the property they are charged with protecting and building up.

In this vein, my biggest grievance with the film is the inclusion of Captain Haircut, a.k.a. Carol Danvers. As those of you who have read my previous diatribes about this character know, my issue with Danvers predates Brie Larson’s casting and hiring. But this woman has done nothing to improve my opinion of the character; if anything, she has made it worse. Combine her poor acting with her unnecessary and bigoted comments, and you have an instant recipe for the Mithril Guardian’s dislike.

More to the point, however, she clearly did not need to be in this film. Endgame was a great movie, but her presence in it threw the entire tale off balance and out of kilter. Her scenes could be graciously excised from the narrative or fulfilled by others with ease, making for a much smoother (and better!) story.

For instance, even a fat and out of shape Thor should have been able to summon enough lightning to fry Thanos’ ship. And as someone I know pointed out, the writers and directors had to come up with a reason to prevent Dr. Strange from using his powers to take down the vessel as well. The Hulk should have had the opportunity to make up for his previous scaredy-cat behavior in Infinity War by going full-on rage mode against Thanos during the final fight. And that gratuitous “girl power” scene in the finale, where the heroines fight against Thanos’ army on their own (led by Danvers, of course), was likewise totally unnecessary.

And do not get me started, readers, on how much they have amped up Danvers’ power quotient for the films! Previously, in the comics, the only way she could have destroyed Thanos’ ship would have been if she went into her Binary form. This allows Danvers to channel the power of a white hole, the opposite of a black hole. And as impressive as that power is, it was not enough to bring down Jean Grey, who wasn’t even possessed by the Phoenix Force when Carol Danvers/Binary attacked her. If a regularly-powered Jean can hold her own against Danvers’ strongest form, than this woman is not as impressive as the Studio wants fans to believe.

Do not give me this hooey about Danvers being the most powerful character in the Marvel Universe, people! Almost all of the other heroines in Endgame could take her down in her the comics, with Scarlet Witch being the first one in line. That girl could erase Danvers or negate her powers entirely just by flicking her pinky finger, so don’t tell me that she’s more powerful than Wanda Maximoff! That’s an insult to my intelligence, an insult to fans everywhere, to the Scarlet Witch herself, and to Elizabeth Olsen.

Speaking of Ms. Olsen, rumor has it she and the other actresses in the MCU are not happy about the slavering adoration the Studio has heaped on Larson and Captain Haircut. They worked hard to make their characters likeable and to build a fanbase for themselves through the Marvel franchise, and now that franchise is trying to cut the legs out from under them. Let’s hear it for “girl power,” right? (Author rolls eyes.)

The only thing I liked about Danvers’ inclusion in Endgame is that Thanos gets to punch her square in the eye. He has to use the Power Stone to accomplish this feat, unfortunately, but the expression of horror on her face an instant before his fist connects with her unattractive mug is pure ambrosia. I would not be the least bit surprised if the Russo brothers and the writers added that scene just to vent their frustration with Marvel Studios and Disney, while giving fans something to laugh at heartily.

Despite this canker, Endgame is a remarkable film well worth watching. It is not perfect, nor what this blogger wanted; she would have liked a more Return of the Jedi-style finale for the franchise. But given how well that worked for Star Wars, she cannot fault the filmmakers for closing the door on future film avenues more permanently in this movie.

If, by some miracle, you have not yet seen Avengers: Endgame I recommend giving it a viewing. While it may not be perfect or have everything that made the rest of the films great, it is still a beautiful good-bye from the actors, writers, and directors who brought us ten fantastic years of cinematic storytelling. Don’t let the flaws interrupt their heartfelt sayonara, readers. This is a movie that deserves to be viewed!

“Avengers…. ASSEMBLE!”

 The Mithril Guardian

Avengers: Endgame, Movie, Characters, 4K, #52 Wallpaper

Avengers: Infinity War – A Review, Part 1

How Avengers 4 Is and Isn't Infinity War Part 2

Wow. I knew going in that this film would be intense, but… Whoa…

Yes, I know that I am very late in reviewing this movie. However, this blogger needed to process a lot of what she had seen in order to write a cogent analysis of the film. It’s not much of an excuse for leaving you hanging, readers, but it’s the truth. I had to do a lot of thinking about this film. It’s dense and not for the faint of heart.

This was a great movie. But there were some small items which bothered me while watching the film. These will be discussed today, while the more enjoyable aspects of the movie will be addressed later on.

Because Thanos got most of the screen time here (arrrgh!), I cannot do the characterization posts I enjoyed writing for Age of Ultron and Civil War. He took up too much screen time for more than a couple of the heroes to really stand out. So these reviews are probably going to just be lists of things I enjoyed/noticed in the film which point to the true, the good, and the beautiful.

All right, with that said, now it is time to get down to “tacks of brass” and tell you what I disliked about this movie. Most of these are minor quibbles, really; they do not detract from the film in any major way. But they were kind of annoying.

The first thing I had real trouble buying was Loki’s decision to save Thor after he told Thanos he could kill the King of Thunder. Someone who watched the film with me reminded this blogger that Loki wants to kill his brother himself, and it has to be said that there is some part of the Trickster which may be redeemable. There is good in him – somewhere. Still, although we saw that goodness on display more in Ragnarok than we have in prior installments, I’m not sure this film gave the transition proper justice. They didn’t do badly, but they might have been able to do better.

My next problem came with Pepper. As we see at the beginning of this movie, she is still trying to get Tony to abandon being Iron Man. My response to this is no, No, and NO!!! Good grief, what happened to the Pepper from The Avengers? The one who, like Penelope of old, understood that Tony had a responsibility to protect the Earth, not just himself and her? This selfish twit is a pale shadow of the Pepper Potts we saw in The Avengers and I AM NOT PLEASED WITH HER!!!

What Tony comes to realize here, and what Pepper has forgotten as of this movie, is Spider-Man’s motto: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Tony was not the first superhero, true, but the fact is that after he became Iron Man, he became accountable for more than himself. It is his job to defend America specifically and Earth as a whole from threats foreign and domestic.


If she truly loves Tony, then Pepper will have to learn to love all of him – including his alter ego. Despite what she and he (to a lesser degree) seem to think, the two are not separable; he is both Iron Man and Tony Stark. For him to abandon that responsibility destroys a good part of his identity.

This leads us, neatly enough, to my problem with Hawkeye’s mention in the movie. Believe it or not, I can actually handle the fact that he does not appear in Infinity War. It is disappointing but understandable; with all the other people running around in this film, the odds of him getting decent – if brief – screen time were pretty darn slim. So while I missed him, his lack of presence here was not the problem.

No, my problem was that the writers had him take a deal from the government. What the Sam Hill….? That makes no sense. None. I can see why they would need to do this for Scott Lang, given the plot for Ant-Man and the Wasp, but not for Hawkeye. Knowledge of Scott’s family is a matter of public record. There was no way for him to take Cassie, his ex-wife, and her new husband into hiding. In order to see his daughter in a safe, meaningful way, he would have had to capitulate and take a deal. This is why it makes perfect sense for Scott to be under house arrest in Ant-Man and the Wasp.

It does not make ANY sense for Hawkeye to be under house arrest during Infinity War, which is where Widow says he is. The whole point of Clint’s rebelling against the Accords was to protect his family, to keep them secret. That’s why he smacked the bars on his cell after Tony opened his big fat mouth in the Raft. The absolute last thing he would do would be to sign a deal with the government which kept him under house arrest, since this requires the government to look in him and his family regularly, just as they did with Scott.

Clint made it abundantly clear in Age of Ultron that he wanted knowledge of his family to stay off the record. Even after Tony blabbed about his family, it would have been more sensible (and easier) for Hawkeye and the Secret Avengers to keep his wife and children hidden. All they would have to do was move his family to a new location, either in the U.S. or by seeking asylum in Wakanda. Without a way to track Clint or the Secret Avengers, the government could not use the Barton family as bargaining chips. This would have at least enabled Clint to “retire” with them in relative safety and comfort, if not continue his Avenging career with the rest of the anti-Accords gang every now and then.

For the writers to subvert Clint’s choice like this really bugs me. It also contradicts his previous portrayal and plays directly into the stereotypical trap that Pepper has fallen into. Clint Barton is a father and a husband first and foremost, yes, but if he wants to keep his family’s lives secure, he has avoid letting the government know about them at the least. There are no two ways about this and the writers should have handled it better than they did.

New Avengers: Infinity War trailer knows that Black ...

One of my other issues with the film came at the end of the story, when the “Snapture” begins to take a universal effect. Most of the unnamed people who are erased in Wakanda are guys. It appears from the camera shots that almost all of the Dora Milaje – T’Challa’s bodyguard and ceremonial wives’ corps – are left standing. I guess the writers and directors figured they wouldn’t be able to get past the Hollywoond censors if they wiped out half the women warriors in Wakanda.

Personally, I think erasing Okoye rather than T’Challa might have made more sense to the narrative and had more of an impact on audiences. But, heck, what do I know? I’m just a fan.

Another point of contention I have with the film is Thanos’ sacrifice of Gamora to gain the Soul Stone. The idea, as expressed in the film, that this works because he “loves” her is…sticky in one sense but, in another, it works pretty well. As Gamora herself says, what Thanos feels for her is not true love. He loves her as a reflection of his own brilliance and glory, not for herself. Technically, because he does not truly love Gamora, throwing her off a cliff to her death should not “earn” him the Soul Stone.

On the other hand the Stone may not be able to determine the difference between real love and selfish love. It may recognize and respond to either type, or just to the fact that a soul has been offered to it. Any one of these three things could make it acquiesce to being taken by the sacrificer. There is no clarification given in the movie for how this works, though, so viewers don’t know which it is for certain.

My final complaints about the film were the three-on-one fight with Proxima Midnight and the scene where Gamora cries after she thinks she has killed Thanos. In a way, both of these things make sense. But the method in which they were accomplished left something to be desired for this viewer.

We will deal with the cat fight first. It has been shown throughout this film franchise that the male Avengers are naturally chivalrous. They tend to go easy on their female opponents. This is demonstrated best in Civil War when Scott Lang/Ant-Man sheepishly admits that he doesn’t want to hurt Natasha, who promptly does a number on him. Therefore, if you want a no-holds-barred fight with Proxima Midnight, sending the Black Widow, Wanda Maximoff, and Okoye after the leader of the Black Order means there will be no need to tear off the kid gloves.

Infinity War: Scarlet Witch's Accent Explained by the ...

The quandary comes in the portrayal of Okoye and Natasha’s trading nods like equals. As far as we have seen, here and in previous films, the two have never met or spent much time together. These slight nods that hint at a friendship between the two therefore have no weight, since we never saw them together before this film came out.

More importantly, Natasha and Okoye are not equals. Okoye is a general, a soldier. War is her business and her element, as shown in Black Panther. The woman practically lives for the thrill of battle.

In contrast, Natasha is a super spy. She was raised to be a solo operative who got in and out of areas and scenarios no one else could. Subterfuge is her expertise and her greatest weapon, even now. Fighting alongside the Avengers does not make her a soldier, since as Tony said in The Avengers, they ARE NOT soldiers. They are, rather, para-military commandos. A situation arises, the Avengers ride in, dispatch the bad guys, pull the plug on their evil scheme(s), and go home. That is it.

Even when they end up in situation like that seen at the start of Age of Ultron, the team is operating in the manner that Special Forces units do. The field of combat there may be wider than the one Natasha was accustomed to when working for the KGB and SHIELD, but in form it is not that different. When she is in the field with the Avengers she is doing what she has always done the way that she has always done it.

Avengers: Infinity War 4k Ultra HD Wallpaper and ...

As we saw in Black Panther, Okoye has very little patience for the arts of subtlety and guile. She can’t keep up a cover identity for more than fifteen or twenty minutes, tops. Unlike the patient Widow spinning a web to ensnare a foe, Okoye is a tigress who hunts in the open because she revels in the fear she inspires in her opponents. The two are nothing alike, and to suggest that they are in any way similar through these minute gestures was a stupid move on the part of the writers. It completely upset the tempo of the otherwise magnificent fight with Proxima.

Finally, we come to Gamora crying over Thanos. While it is true that she hates Thanos for everything he did to her and everything he made her become, the fact is that she does share a relationship with him. In a twisted, dark way she owes him her life. There is no way for Gamora to really escape that fact, even though she wishes she could. This scene also makes it clear that she sincerely pities the Mad Titan for his blindness to real love and beauty. It makes total sense that she would start crying after “killing” him.

What does not make sense is that she didn’t see through his Reality Stone ruse. Nor does it make sense for her to break down so completely in this moment. And as an assassin, she ought to know that it is better to mourn in private, after she has made sure her target is really dead. The fact that she falls apart here shows she is letting her feelings rule her.

This is a weakness she cannot afford in this war, but which she gives into anyway. While it is understandable and excusable from our point of view, it is neither within the context of the story. Her breakdown here was more than a little annoying for that reason. The universe is at stake and yet she stops to fall on her knees and cry over Thanos? Doesn’t it make more sense to do that in her room AFTER she is sure that the universe is safe and daddy’s not coming back to kill half the cosmic population? *Sigh….*

These are, as I noted above, very small nitpicks with this film. On the whole, this movie is fantastic!!! And with Avengers: Endgame set to be released in April/May of this year, we won’t have that much longer to wait until we know how it all ends. Here’s hoping it is one of those finales where, as Samwise Gamgee’s gaffer would say, “…all’s well as ends better!”

‘Til next week – Avengers, Assemble!

Spotlight: Strong Women

Pepper and Tony

The scene I want to Spotlight! today occurred during Marvel’s The Avengers. It is the scene where Coulson arrives to enlist Iron Man’s help in stopping Loki, ruining “twelve percent of a moment” between Pepper Potts and Tony.

In this scene, Pepper realizes that something important is in motion and, to stop it, SHIELD needs Iron Man’s help. Tony, naturally, does not want to help SHIELD. Apart from the fact that he rightly distrusts the huge ‘peacekeeping’ agency, he does not want to leave Pepper. She is, quite frankly, the first woman he has ever truly loved in his life, and people do not want to part from those they love.

But Pepper, on seeing the “homework” Coulson has detailed for Tony, realizes that their “moment” must wait a little longer. Tony is needed elsewhere, and as much as she would prefer he stayed with her, if he does they may still be separated later on and in a worse way. So she does the sensible thing and tells him to go help SHIELD. Pepper does not tell him to do this because SHIELD needs help, but because there are lives at stake, maybe even their own. In verbal shorthand, she instructs Tony to go out and save the world; she will be waiting for him when he returns.

From my perspective, this is Pepper’s strongest moment so far in the Avengers’-themed films. In this scene, Pepper proves herself the fictional descendant of Ulysses’ wife Penelope. Penelope waited for Ulysses’ return from both the Trojan War and his years of roving. The Trojan War took ten years, and Ulysses went wandering the seas for ten years. So Penelope waited for Ulysses’ return for twenty years, during which time everyone else in his home town believed him dead. Waiting for him to come back took determination, to say the least!

Now allow me to contrast Pepper with another female Marvel character. This may get me in hot water, but I have yet to learn why so many people fawn over Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel. For those of you who have never encountered the character, Carol Danvers was a U.S. Air Force pilot who ended up with Kree abilities (the Kree are a humanoid alien species which inhabit the Marvel Comics universe). Danvers possesses the capabilities of near supersonic flight, near invulnerability, the ability to fire energy blasts from her hands, and apparently the ability to predetermine her opponent’s moves in battle – though this one is news to me and seems to be a recent addition to her power roster.

I have to admit, Danvers’ powers are impressive. The sad fact is that Danvers’ powers are the only remarkable things about her. If a person stands Danvers next to other female Avengers such as Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Wasp, Rescue (Pepper Potts), or Mockingbird, that person quickly gets the impression that a novice’s sculpture has suddenly and inexplicably been set amidst statues fashioned by the Ancient Greeks. Danvers seems too clean cut, too perfect, when compared with her fellow Avenging females. She has immense power, yet she thinks and reacts like a California “Valley girl” (which may explain why she is so susceptible to psychic attacks and mind control).

I have considered Carol Danvers to be a “hollow character” since I first researched her. Her existence as a character appears – to me – to be based solely on her physical strength and not on the force of her personality (or lack thereof). In contrast, Pepper has a lot of personality: she is witty and smart, but also kind and compassionate – sometimes to a fault. Danvers lacks the former traits and if she has the latter then they are, at best, exhibited lukewarmly and infrequently.

Why do I bring up Carol Danvers in relation to Pepper Potts and her best scene from The Avengers? Because of the two, Danvers has received more acclaim from reviewers and fans than Pepper. Most seem to think Danvers is strong and Pepper is not – at least, they do not think Pepper is “strong” until she swallows an unstable Super Soldier Serum and gains inhuman abilities from it.

Today we are constantly inundated with news reporters or other TV talking heads yapping about what makes a strong woman. Hollywood frequently praises female leads that shoot impossibly large guns, use martial arts, super powers, or some other weapon when fighting their enemies. I know what you are thinking, and what you may well think throughout this post on this often-argued topic. So first let me state that I am not belittling the achievements of women anywhere.

No, I am asking a question, one I think too many people forget to ask. That question is, “What makes a strong woman?” Who is the strongest female character you have ever encountered, readers, and why is she strong? I do not mean what makes her physically strong, but what makes her a strong woman?

Most of us can think of a number of popular, strong female characters off the top of our heads. Storm, Black Widow, Wasp, Princess Leia Organa Solo, Mara Jade Skywalker, Stella from Silverado, Katniss Everdeen, Seven of Nine, Captain Janeway, and Lieutenant Uhura are all strong ladies who jump immediately into many minds.

But what do these women possess that makes us consider them strong? Is it their super powers (i.e. Storm, Wasp)? Is it their skill with a gun (Princess Leia, Lieutenant Uhura) or a bow (Katniss Everdeen)? Is it their skill with science and technology (Captain Janeway, Seven of Nine)? Or is it their spy skills (Black Widow, Mara Jade)?

If you answer yes to these questions and follow the reasoning to its conclusion, you find a rather thin strength, do you not? After all, what happens in a situation where Storm cannot access her powers, Uhura loses her phaser, or Black Widow is trussed up tighter than a Thanksgiving Day turkey and cannot use her martial arts skills to fight her way out of a tight spot?

And yet, all these fictional women – and a great many others – have fought their way through such situations regardless of the loss of powers, weapons, technology, or skills.

But, by continuing to use the reasoning that said these women were strong because of their assets – powers, weapons, etc. – we are left with a flimsy, incomplete picture of these fictional heroines. After all, if Storm loses her powers – the abilities that make her “strong” – then she is no longer strong when she cannot use them.

As a fan of the X-Man Storm from youth, when I was younger I would have found such a statement insulting to her. “Storm is strong without her powers!” I would have shouted angrily.

Thankfully, time brings growth, and I am at least old enough now to know that not all battles can be won by shouting – although that may be my initial, instinctive reaction. Suppose that, today, someone was to say to me, “Storm’s great, but she’s only strong as long as she has her powers.”

Stifling my kneejerk reaction to shout and lose my temper, I would stumble and say, “No, she’s strong even without her powers. If Storm were to lose her powers – which she has, on occasion – she would still be a force to be reckoned with. Because even without her powers, Storm is determined to survive – when she fights, she fights to win.”

And that is the point right there. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog,” as they say. Storm and the other leading ladies I have listed here all have a strong will, the determination to survive adversity and evil. These fictional women are not disposed to yield to those who threaten them and/or those they love. They will fight anyone who threatens them. Whether they fight with weather warping abilities, or with something as “simple” as a spoon or a rock, they will fight to the death to protect themselves and those they care about.

So is the true strength of a woman (or of a man) to be judged by how much they can physically do? Should it be judged by the flash, flamboyance, or elegance with which they do it?

Or should the true strength of a man or woman be judged by the force of their will to be strong?

History is already witness to many women with strong wills achieving great things. Women such as Artemisia, Boudicca, Margaret of Provence (queen of France and wife of Louis IX), Catherine of Siena, Maria Theresa of Austria, Isabella I of Spain, Madeleine de Verchères, and Catherine the Great were all strong-willed women who achieved much in their lifetimes. Actresses Hedy Lamarr, Lucille Ball, and Maureen O’Hara accomplished much in their lives as actresses and as career women.

Yet still there are those who see only the outer shell, or who refuse to see it. Still you will hear the shrill Cabbage Patch dolls on TV or in Hollywood proclaim that this leading female in that film is strong simply because she can swing a sword, shoot a gun or a bow, use magic, or ride the wind and cast lightning bolts out of a clear sky. It is sad that so many in this age choose to view women in this light.

So then what do I think makes a strong woman, readers? I think a strong woman is defined by her will to keep fighting, by her determination to do her part, small though it may appear to be. No matter how much it hurts or how unfulfilling it appears, how thankless or humble a job it is, these fictional heroines have kept going. Theirs is an honorable position, whether it is Pepper’s waiting for Tony to return to her or Captain Janeway guiding Voyager on its journey home. It is an honorable duty they each work to fulfill to the best of their abilities. They should be given respect for that strength of will, not for their physical skills.

In conclusion, I will say this, readers: I preach no sermon, I advocate no crusade. I simply ask you an honest question:

“What do you think makes a woman strong?”


The Mithril Guardian