Avengers Analysis – The Feminist Evolution from ‘Iron Man’ to ‘Avengers: Endgame’: The Avengers & Iron Man 3

The next two films we’re looking at are The Avengers and Iron Man 3.

Chris Hemsworth, Thor, Chris Evans, Captain America, Steve Rogers, Jeremy Renner, Hawkeye, Clint Barton, Scarlett Johansson, Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff, Hulk, Robery Downey Jr, Tony Stark, Iron Man, Avengers
Image Credit: Marvel Studios

The Avengers:

Sophistication: This was the first Avengers film, and the first to bring humor to all the Avengers. Later films would continue that to a degree. It’s also the first Marvel film to have the main characters from different films all meet, which means we see how they get along. The film has a Shakespearean villain and that is hugely important to carrying the film when there are this many characters. Joss Whedon’s dialogue is apparent in this film, which is a good thing. The film also gives Bruce Banner a little more character since the Hulk film is kind of disowned from Marvel at this point. This is the best Marvel film to this point.

Contribution to the Overall Avengers Storyline: Obviously, this film creates the Avengers. We learn about the Avengers Initiative from Nick Fury. We see how the Avengers mesh, and sometimes how they don’t. We see how they can work together, or if they can work together. If we were breaking the Marvel films up into chapters, Avengers would end chapter one.

Infinity Stones: This film has the Tesseract and Loki’s Scepter, both of which contain infinity stones. The Tesseract contains the Space Stone, while Loki’s Scepter contains the Mind Stone.

Tom Hiddleston, Loki, Avengers
Image Credit: Marvel Studios

Villain: Loki is back in his best turn to date, and this film is still arguably the best written villain storyline in the MCU. Loki inadvertently brings the Avengers together and changes things for the MCU as a whole with the first alien attack on Earth with the Attack on New York.

Feminist Level: This film really has only one problem in regard to feminism, and that is the usual huge disparity between the number of male and female characters. There is Nathasha Romanoff, who is a layered character, with flaws, but is also the hero in many ways, figuring out Loki’s plan, “fixing” Hawkeye, and being an equal in the final fight. Maria Hill is also a great addition, as Fury’s number two. His most trusted agent is Hill, and we also know that Romanoff and Barton are supposed to be his best agents, making two of Fury’s three best agents women. However, there are two moments in the film when a character asks “what do we do now/what happens next?” and those two characters are Natasha and Maria Hill.

Scarlett Johansson, Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff, Avengers
Image Credit: Marvel Studios

Does it pass the Bechdel Test: No

Does it pass the Race Bechdel Test: No

Ratio of Male:Female Characters:

Male: (9)

Tony Stark

Steve Rogers

Bruce Banner


Clint Barton


Phil Coulson


Nick Fury

Female: (3)

Natasha Romanoff

Maria Hill

Pepper Potts

-3 for more than triple the number of male characters to female characters

-1 for the female characters never interacting with each other

+1 for Natasha figuring out Loki’s plan

+1 for introducing Maria Hill as Fury’s most trusted agent and 2nd in command

+1 for Natasha’s introduction

+1 for Natasha being the one sent to get Bruce Banner

+1 for Natasha fixing Barton

Total: 6/10 – This film makes huge strides on the previous Marvel films, and on its own, is a generally feminist film, and it certainly isn’t anti-feminist. However, it could still do with some more diversity to the cast than a bunch of white guys and Samuel L. Jackson (who is not an Avenger). That flaw is what leaves its score at a 6 and below the level of Thor.

Is the film worth watching: Yes.

Robert Downey Jr, Tony Stark, Iron Man, Iron Man 3
Image Credit: Marvel Studios

Iron Man 3

Sophistication of Story: This film is either sophisticated or a little overly written, depending on how you look at it. The film can’t be easily summarized as the villains are a little all over the place. However, the film does a good job of exploring the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with Tony, who is suffering after the attack on New York. The resulting issues are putting a strain on his relationship with Pepper, as well as a strain on his ability to be Iron Man.

Contribution to the Overall Avengers Storyline: Not a whole lot really. By Age of Ultron, Tony’s PTSD seems to be forgotten. Tony and Pepper break up and get back together, both off screen, by Infinity War, and the villain and Extremis serum never come up again. The only major thing is that Tony gets the shrapnel out of his heart so he no longer needs the chest piece.

Infinity Stones: None

Ben Kingsley, Mandarin, Iron Man 3, Trevor Slattery
Image Credit: Marvel Studios

Villain: Where to start? Initially, the villain is the Mandarin, a terrorist who broadcasts threatening videos on television where he kills people, kind of ISIS style. However, the Mandarin is really an actor hired by Killian as a front. Maya works with him, and they have an army of Extremis infected soldiers who light on fire as their super power. Maya has second thoughts, and the film is left with Killian, whose motivation seems to be that he felt rejected by Tony a decade ago. Oh, and don’t forget the vice-president, who turns out to be a villain three quarters of the way through the film.

Rebecca Hall, Maya Hansen, Iron Man 3
Image Credit: Marvel Studios

Feminist Level: While this film improves on some of the first bunch, it still has a way to go in being feminist. Maya was originally much more active as the villain, but the script was changed as Marvel changed its mind about having a female villain. Pepper disappears for large parts of the film, and when she does, she is kidnapped and inexplicably in her underclothes. She does, however, get to wear the Iron Man suit and save Tony twice, though the second time is only after having been injected with the Extremis serum and getting super powers.

Does it pass the Bechdel Test: Yes

Does it pass the Race Bechdel Test: No

Ratio of Male: Female Characters:

Male: (5)

Tony Stark


Aldrich Killian

Happy Hogan

Trevor Slattery

Female: (2)

Pepper Potts

Maya Hansen

-2 for more than double the number of male characters to female characters

-3 because Marvel was originally going to have a female villain and instead relegated her character to essentially the scientist girlfriend

-1 for Maya getting killed in a disposable way without ever really getting to be a meaningful character, even as a villain

-1 for Pepper having very little screen time

-1 for Pepper inexplicably having no shirt after she is kidnapped and injected with the serum

+1 for Pepper being the CEO again

+1 for Pepper telling Tony off when he deserved it

+1 for Pepper wearing the Iron Man suit

+1 for Pepper kicking Killian’s ass

+1 for Pepper and Maya having scenes together that are not about romantic relationships

+2 for Pepper saving Tony twice

Total: 5/10 – We’ll keep waiting, Marvel. 

Is the film worth watching: Yes


Avengers Analysis – The Feminist Evolution from ‘Iron Man’ to ‘Avengers: Endgame’: Thor & Captain America: the First Avenger

Avengers Analysis – The Feminist Evolution from ‘Iron Man’ to ‘Avengers: Endgame’: Iron Man & Iron Man 2

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  2 comments for “Avengers Analysis – The Feminist Evolution from ‘Iron Man’ to ‘Avengers: Endgame’: The Avengers & Iron Man 3

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