Avengers: Infinity War Treats Its Heroine Appallingly

The Avengers Infinity War

Why would you be reading this if you haven’t already watched Infinity War? Here’s Jingo the spoilers cat anyway.

Cultured Vultures spoilers

Who’s the main character of Infinity War? There’s so many of them running around that it’s hard to say. Captain America and Iron Man get most of the big moments, while Doctor Strange and Thor carry most of the plot. But the beating heart of the movie is Gamora, Thanos’s daughter slash colossally underrated MCU heroine. Or it is, until it suddenly isn’t.

If there’s one character in the MCU who really deserves some happiness, it’s Gamora. Thanos murdered her parents and “adopted” her, planning to raise her into a soulless assassin like him. Ultimately he didn’t succeed, but the details of Gamora’s past are still horrible, taking in torture and murder and god knows what else. Gamora has to live with not only that, but that she failed to protect her adopted sister Nebula from Thanos as well. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 shifted things considerably, reconciling Gamora and Nebula and putting Gamora on what looked like a path to happiness at last.

Until Infinity War rolls around, and here’s the spoiler: Thanos kills her. He needs to sacrifice someone he loves in order to claim the Soul Stone, and it turns out Gamora fits that bill. “This isn’t love!” she screams, and she’s right, but Thanos throws her to her death anyway. As the soundtrack violins go mournfully OTT and Gamora’s body lies lifeless in the snow, Thanos displays grief and tears for the first time. Yep, Gamora’s death wasn’t even about her: it was about Thanos. Thanos’s triumph, Thanos’s tears, Thanos’s sadness. A classic fridging. It even involved ice.

Source: Marvel Studios

Oh sure, Gamora’s death may not stick, especially considering what happens at the end of the movie. Before Infinity War even came out Zoe Saldana was confirmed to be in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol .3, and although the exact nature of her involvement is unknown, at least it’s something. But her death feels cruel in a way few of the others featured in this bloodbath of a movie were, because she dies alone, screaming and having failed in her quest. Gamora ends up failing and suffering constantly throughout this movie, in fact. When she breaks down in tears having achieved her goal, it turns out to be just a cruel illusion. When she begs Peter Quill – the love of her life – to kill her so Thanos will never discover the location of the Soul Stone, the blasts turn into bubbles. Almost every time she tries to establish some agency about her own life and death, it’s taken from her.

The one exception is regarding Nebula. Gamora gives up the Soul Stone’s location to save her sister, a huge thing for both of them since Nebula’s whole character arc revolves around Gamora’s failure to save her the first time around. And yet, so little is made of this in the film. The sisterly relationship takes a back seat to the Quill/Gamora dynamic, he’s the one most affected by her death. And in a way that’s fair, this is the first ever time we’ve seen them as an official couple after all, and it didn’t escape my notice that Thanos’s motivation for killing Gamora was not dissimilar to the motive Peter’s father once gave for killing his mother. But the movie focuses so much on Peter’s badly-timed rage that Nebula barely gets a look-in, or a moment to mourn for who was probably the only person she ever loved. Really, the other Thanos daughter/victim isn’t served terribly well by Infinity War, either.

Gamora Infinity War

All in all, perhaps the biggest problem is that Infinity War doesn’t seem to care about Gamora, or Nebula, or anything as much as it cares about Thanos. Who’s the main character of Infinity War? He is. And it’s an infuriating decision because there is nothing redeemable, interesting or entertaining about Thanos whatsoever. Oh, he’s committing mass genocide and murdering innocents in droves? Well, he’s slightly sad about it, so hey. It’s almost irresponsible, I think, to give Thanos’s actions even a sheen of sympathy. But there you go – Thanos is a monster and yet the film is unsettlingly determined to humanize him. So determined, in fact, that it sacrificed one of its most complex and deserving female characters on his altar.

Obviously, the whole story isn’t done yet. Plenty more could happen next year, including a resurrection and an epic smackdown. But if or when that turns out to be the case, it’s still infuriating that the writers considered Gamora’s story arc in Infinity War to be secondary to that of her terrible father. It should have been her movie. She deserved better.

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