I’m not gonna lie, folks. I have seen Avengers: Infinity War three times since it came out last Thursday. Odds are I will see it more. It was so much better than I expected. It’s dense with both plot and emotion and each time I see it I catch something I missed before.
One thing I was thinking about after viewing number two is while almost every hero we’ve met in the Marvel cinematic journey is still with us, most of the women have fallen by the wayside. They disappeared, in many cases, without any textural comment or without a concrete in-universe reason.
The movie was engaging enough that I didn’t think about this the whole first time through it. That’s saying something considering this kind of thing is at the forefront of my brain.
I’m going to try to make this post as spoiler-free for Infinity War, but since it is a list of characters that aren’t in the movie (and has some references to characters that are), that could be considered a spoiler in and of itself. It definitely contains spoilers for just about every other film in the Marvel cinematic universe. You have been warned.
Let’s start our list at the beginning (by release date).
The treatment of and writing for this character in Iron Man was the main reason I hated the film the first time I saw it. The fact that she’s treated with contempt not just by Tony Stark but by Pepper Potts as well is fucking weak-ass writing. It’s canonical “woman character: by men” bullshit. She goes from confrontational to fucking Tony in the space of a heartbeat. I know that’s supposed to establish Tony as irresistible to women but mostly it establishes that the committee of dudes who wrote this film are lazy as fuck when it comes to characterization. And possibly also that they have never met any actual women.
She is brought back (apparently solely for the purpose of slut-shaming her a second time) in Iron Man 2. Apart from that she’s only been in a series of news-based shorts.
It doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult to work a cynical, well-educated, intelligent journalist into the MCU again.
She was dropped after appearing in 2008’s The Hulk, and has not, I believe, been so much as *mentioned* again. Not even when Bruce Banner is resisting being pulled into another romance in Age of Ultron. You’d think it’d be reasonable for him to include the ways Betty’s life had been fucked up when protesting that being in a relationship with him is a bad idea.
Not to mention, she’s a cellular biologist and is married to a psychiatrist. There have been LOTS of places scientists have been dropped into these movies. You’d think that a biologist would be pretty useful in some of them.
Also – her *dad* is still in the films. But not her. That is some bullshit.
One of Thor’s warrior companions. We haven’t seen her or heard anything about her since Thor: The Dark World. She is badass and funny and I’d love to see her meet some more avengers. She’s a hero in her own right and is already adept at fighting on a team. So she might be a good fit for the Avengers, especially since Asgard has been destroyed.
Having been written off with a throwaway line in Thor: Ragnarok, Jane Foster as another scientist doesn’t seem like she’d be difficult to include. Eric Selvig, her colleague, has been in several more of the films than she has.
It might be nice if she got to have a life in the universe beyond her relationship with Thor. It also might be nice if we got to see some of these testosterone-fueled male heroes dealing with an ex with politeness and grace.
Foster’s comic relief companion shows up only when she does, which I think is a shame. Her presence in the first two Thor films really humanizes what were some of the weaker links in the Marvel movie chain. She may not be a scientist, but she is portrayed as having some good instincts. And can anyone tell me that a poly-sci graduate who has dealt with heroes from another planet wouldn’t be able to parlay that into at least an entry-level job at SHIELD or at the world security council?
Yes. She’s dead. We all know in comic books, that doesn’t necessarily mean much. Nor in mythology, for that matter. And she wouldn’t be the first character to be brought back.
Okay, so she is more dead than Frigga, in some ways. And she got a long, eventful life even if we don’t get to see all of it. I’m still bitter her tv show was canceled though.
Beth, the waitress
Okay, yes. She’d be more difficult to work in than some of the others, but she had lines. She counts. And the series has brought back similarly minor characters at other times.
I know I wasn’t the only person who was disappointed in The Winter Soldier when Councilwoman Hawley kicked some ass and then turned out to be Natasha Romanoff in disguise instead of herself. She’s a badass character and I wish we got to see more of her in general.
A superpowered assassin who can regenerate. Why wouldn’t we have seen her again after the one battle in Iron Man 3?
Another scientist, though she technically died, she also worked on extremis, which helped bodies recover from severe trauma (amongst other things). It doesn’t seem like getting shot would necessarily have to be the end for someone who had that at her fingertips. And her moral greyness makes her an interesting addition to the universe.
Peggy Carter’s niece plays a fairly huge role in the Captain America comics. I know we may well see her again, since she hasn’t been killed or written off, but she definitely hasn’t been used to best effect yet in any movie in which she’s appeared.
The leader of the Nova Corps is probably the person on this list who would have been the most natural to include in Infinity War. After all, her force was guarding one of the infinity stones. And certainly, her level head and commanding presence could’ve been useful.
Dr. Helen Cho
Brought in during the events of Age of Ultron to help patch up Avengers who had been injured — anyone think that’s something they’d only need once? Why haven’t we seen her again? A medical doctor on call is definitely something they need.
I will be honest, I thought the inclusion of the Ultimates-inspired elements of Clint Barton’s character in Age of Ultron was stupid. And him having a secret family that he actually managed to keep secret in spite of being mind-controlled by Loki in the first Avengers film and all of SHIELD’s secrets being dumped onto the net in Cap 2 really doesn’t make much sense. But if you put her in, keep her in. The only time she’s really been referred to again is when Clint’s family gets mentioned in passing, even though she’s married to Clint and is good friends with Natasha.
Janet Van Dyne
I know including her as a character we haven’t seen again when we never got to see her the first time may seem a little ridiculous. But a lot of comic fans were upset that this founding member of the Avengers (in the comics) was fridged by the Ant Man films. Now, they’ve already established that she has the possibility of coming back (since Scott Lang does what caused her to disappear in the culmination of Ant Man and came back to tell the tale). So I hold out hope.
Hope Van Dyne
She’ll definitely be back in this summer’s Ant Man and The Wasp so that mollifies me somewhat, but why hasn’t she gotten to be in any of the team-up films we’ve had since the first Ant Man?
The Random Journalist/Writer who talks to Sam Wilson at the end of Ant Man
Again – journalists don’t seem like they’d be hard to work in.
Another medical doctor. Seriously why doesn’t the Avengers base have a whole medical wing?
Another random adversary – she still (presumably) has it in for the Guardians of the Galaxy. I know we’re probably going to see her again, but she’s another person who easily could have been in Infinity War as it ranged around the galaxy, but was not.
Again, we’ll probably see her again. But she wasn’t on the bus Peter was on at the start of Infinity War, even though there was no reason for her not to have been.
Anne Marie Hoag
I know that part of the reason a lot of these characters aren’t in Infinity war is that they don’t want to burden scenes with too many references or too many characters. There’s probably also an issue with paying all the actors, but the head of Damage Control has maybe more of a reason to be in a film where New York is attacked by aliens (again) than some other folks do.
I love Marisa Tomei’s May. She’s trying to walk a heck of a line with her nephew. And we saw the very beginnings of her reaction to Peter’s secret identity at the end of Spider-man: Homecoming. I have to believe she would have strong opinions about several of the plot points of Infinity War and furthermore that she wouldn’t sit idly by for them.
I suspect we won’t see her or her mom again, even if we see her dad (Vulture, Homecoming‘s villain) again. But maybe Kevin Feige prove me wrong.
Yet another woman who has come down with a case of death. More satisfying in her case than many of the others.
The Grandmaster’s bodyguard. She was fun in her moral greyness and grumpiness.
Considering she was definitely on the same ship that Thor and Loki are on at the beginning of Infinity War, it’s kind of ridiculous that we see no hint of her.
I was pretty jazzed that any of Black Panther‘s badass women were in Infinity War. I guess of all the main female characters, Nakia is the one that makes the most sense to be away from Wakanda, given that T’challa put her in charge of cultural outreach at the end of Panther.
Queen Mother Ramonda
Anyone here think this proud and noble woman would suffer herself to be evacuated from a place where her children were about to put themselves in danger? Nope. Me neither.
* * *
So that’s about 25 significant characters (people with names and personalities and lines) and some assorted others.
To be clear, I don’t actually think they all should’ve been in Infinity War necessarily. I liked the film a lot as it was. But I want to highlight that who made it into this film has a lot to do with choices people are making behind-the-scenes. And the impact would not have been reduced by swapping out some of the side-characters we did see for some of these that we didn’t. Or even just mentioning them in passing.
And I know there are logistics and contracts and actor scheduling conflicts driving some of these decisions. On the other hand, they have recast at least two other major characters in the course of this series of films (Jim Rhodes – War Machine and Bruce Banner – Hulk). So they have the option to do that instead of writing characters out. The series can certainly weather it financially. They have only been gaining fans and momentum as they go, in spite of some more serious setbacks (like how awful Age of Ultron was or how unrelentingly grim Civil War was).
We can’t act as though the decision to have roughly three quarters of the main cast of Infinity War be male is somehow meaningless or incidental. The truth is a large part of what led to the eventuality is the dearth of female heroes that have been in the series of films so far. Which has also been a choice. Indeed, it’s really been a series of choices. And there were several deeply kickass women who were left out of this film, even though the good guys needed all the ass-kicking they could muster.
I fucking love these films, flaws and all, but the issues of which characters are considered main characters versus side ones and which characters get their own movies versus which don’t are not trivial.
I saw so many kids coming into these movies during my three viewings so far. I’ve said it before, it is important for *all of them* to know that anyone of any gender and skin tone can be a hero. Marvel films is getting better at giving this some lip-service, but Infinity War proves they’ve still got a ways to go.