Columns, Opinion

Gender Justice: The toxicity of ‘fanboys’

Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Avengers: Endgame” and “WandaVision.”

Wanda Maximoff is the strongest, most powerful character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Many people believe this statement — myself included — for good reason. Mountains of evidence throughout the past few MCU movies prove just how much stronger she is than everyone else.

Meredith Varner

But saying this can cause many Marvel “fanboys” to lose their minds. They will immediately begin arguing how Thor is so much stronger — as if the idea of a woman being the most powerful superhero causes them physical pain. I have seen this exact conversation take place over and over again on TikTok and Twitter.

So, let’s begin with why I think The Scarlet Witch is the most powerful.

Wanda has the broadest range of powers compared to any other superhero. She can control physical objects while also being able to bend reality and other people’s perceptions to her will.

In “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” she took out all of the Avengers with her reality-bending powers and put them under the effects of a powerful hallucination. Not to mention, the movies have not fully explored the extent of her powers. Therefore, it’s likely she has not even shown her full strength yet.

Alexia Nizhny/DFP STAFF

If Wanda is the one controlling everything in the current TV show “WandaVision,” then we are about to get a better idea of how strong she is if she has created an entirely new reality where she controls thousands of people all at once.

Wanda was the only one who got anywhere close to killing Thanos. Furthermore, she would have successfully killed him in “Avengers: Endgame” if he had not called the missile attack to stop her.

Thor also got close to killing Thanos in “Avengers: Infinity War,” but all he managed was one hit with his weapon Stormbreaker. Wanda, on the other hand, was tearing Thanos apart piece by piece with little effort.

President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige even said he believes Wanda to be the most powerful Avenger. It’s hard to argue with the guy who has played a huge role in creating the entire MCU.

Unfortunately, Marvel, Star Wars and other fandoms are filled with toxicity that can often be attributed to the male fan base — also known as the fanboys.

As someone who identifies as a woman and loves Marvel movies, I have witnessed a ton of this toxicity first-hand. It can sometimes come in the form of men quizzing you on incredibly minute details to try to prove you are not a real fan, but it can also come as straight-up harassment and threats.

This past June, more than 70 people — most of them women — spoke out about the sexual harassment, discrimination and vile behavior they encountered in the gaming community. In the past, just speaking about their sexist encounters was enough to receive threats of death and sexual assault from fellow gamers.

This type of toxicity pervades many communities beyond gaming, including Marvel. Gatekeeping, misogyny and sexism are prevalent within these science-fiction communities and fanbases.

Refusing to acknowledge a character’s power is just a symptom of these sexist behaviors. For example, Captain Marvel is easily the second most powerful Marvel character and, of course, that fact is also heavily criticized by fanboys.

I am sick of the gatekeeping, sexism and overall awful behavior in these spaces that are historically male-dominated. Seeing someone online fight so hard against the simple idea that a woman might be more powerful than a man is just the tip of a very ugly iceberg, and it is time we work toward changing this fanboy culture.

 

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