Let's Talk About Gamora

We explore how the strongest woman in the galaxy is one of the greatest heroes of 'Infinity War' and the MCU as a whole.

Gamora Guardians Of The Galaxy Zoe Saldana

We explore how the strongest woman in the galaxy is one of the greatest heroes of ‘Infinity War’ and the MCU as a whole.

Major spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War below!

By now, speculations and conversation regarding that dark and deadly ending of Avengers: Infinity War have circulated the internet. While for the most part, it can be assumed that a majority of the heroes who died in the ending will return or there would be no more MCU, there’s one death that occurred a little earlier that just can’t be shaken off so easily.

Since Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 we’ve known Gamora as a kick-ass assassin, “daughter of Thanos,” and probably the most practical and savviest member of the Guardians team. After being taken from her family at a young age, trained and abused by Thanos to be a warrior for his bidding, she found a way out and connected with Quill, Drax, Rocket, and Groot along the way. She opened her heart to find a family amongst them, making peace with her sister Nebula, and using her power and strength for forces of good.

Even with this switch, however, she has been and always will be a complex character with an interesting backstory. In the first film, she took on a few roles. More so than Vol. 2 (even though Vol. 2 is about his father), Vol. 1 leans more into Quill’s story, and how she, along with the other Guardians, fit within it was most prominent. While like the rest of the group, the primary goal was to make sure the infinity stone never stayed in the hands of Ronan, and a theme was that they all relish in their outsider status together, there were a couple of moments when she specifically worked as a lesson for Quill. Near the beginning, he convinces Drax not to kill her; mid-way through the film, he gives up his pod and breathing mask to save her. In caring for her, he discovered some part of himself that still has a heart.

But Gamora is no damsel and even with these elements of romance, the Guardians films have never suggested that she is. Both we as the audience and Gamora as a character in the film are constantly aware that she’s possibly the most capable and sensible of them all, able to adequately defend herself anytime, anywhere. Right before Quill convinces Drax not to kill her in the jail scene, we first see her disarm them and reverse the power roles. While these moments do put her in more vulnerable positions that allow her romantic interest to shine, they don’t exactly trade her strength or diminish her abilities for Quill’s betterment. Rather, in these moments, two people who never could be vulnerable before find themselves finally able to be because they have a support system with one another, and often, their deepening friendship more than their romance is the true takeaway. In retrospect, in its own slightly problematic way, it works.

She’s been much more than a part of Quill’s story though, as each of the Guardians has. One of the best things about the Guardians’ films is the fact that they really take a great amount of time to develop each character, allowing us to get to know them individually too. From the beginning, we get a sense of Gamora’s strength, her practicality, her morality, and her immense progress at allowing herself to open up emotionally again and retrieve the life she deserved to have all along. Like her story, she’s guided by her own agency. In Vol. 2, she practically becomes the leader of the group, if there even can be a leader of such a bunch. With Quill dealing with his father, and Rocket dealing with Yondu, she’s the one who steps up, putting them on a path to save the day, keeping her skepticism close at hand. Even in V.1, she’s the first character to suggest handing the infinity stone in the orb over to the Nova Corps. Her desire to be heroic and do the right thing is always present without any of the typical superhero ego to go along with it.

And essentially, she is the absolute most important hero in Infinity War and I’d wager the entire galaxy. I’d argue she is, in a sense, the A-story of the whole movie.

When she hears the threat of Thanos from Thor, immediately she senses the weight of her role, and deep down she knows it will come down to her and Thanos, and the secret she holds regarding the soul stone. And as the previous two films have subtly set up, which really paid off in this most recent Avengers, she’s the only one with any real personal connection to him and insight into his motives and capabilities. The real curveball with Infinity War though is the revelation that maybe their relationship, in some twisted, terrible way, resembled one of a father-daughter more than we thought. Thanos actually loves her, and she in return felt some deep feelings regarding her attempt to kill him. When he throws her off a cliff in order to retrieve the stone, her death feels absolutely heartbreaking.

Before watching this film, I knew I loved the Guardians of the Galaxy; their story, their friendship with one another. And as someone who’s favorite MCU films are the Guardians’ films, and whose favorite Marvel character of all is Gamora, her death really threw me for a loop. It not only made me much more emotional than I would have expected, it made me wonder whether the film gave her the justice and the role she deserved.

For starters, we get more backstory on her in this film than we ever have before. We see the moment when Thanos first took her from her home planet in a scene that was surprisingly a strange mix of emotions.

The film also did a great job at furthering the depth of her character rather than reducing it. In a story with so many, and I mean so many, lead characters, it spent an adequate amount of time showing us Gamora’s emotional turmoil in wanting to save the universe, wanting to rid herself of Thanos, yet coming to terms with the role he’s played in her life, and giving up the location of the stone to save her sister from any more pain.

And never once did it make her any less of an amazing badass.

Where she may have gotten the short end of the stick, however, is in her abrupt death and whether or not giving us this extra backstory and character development, was all for the sake of Thanos’ role rather than her’s.

Having not seen the second installment set to release next year, knowing the full extent of what Infinity War meant to accomplish with Gamora’s character and her death is not yet possible. But if this is indeed her end, I’m not too sure it did her justice. That said, it’s most likely not the last we’ll see of her.

If her death is finite, then on one level, it would mean the third Guardians installment would consist of Quill, Drax, Rocket, Groot, Mantis, and no Gamora, which would really be a bummer and heart-breaking event to move on from. She’s an essential part of the group, and together they all perfectly balance one another. Her death would also probably have some major repercussions on the groups’ morale. We already saw how Peter reacted to learning she was dead. It wasn’t great, for him or anyone else around. But it depends on how long after Avengers 4 Guardians’ Vol. 3 is set to take place. Maybe that time jump will allow this to sit with them for a while. And like Groot’s death in the first installment, maybe her memory will bring them all closer and do better going forward.

Beyond this, however, if she and/or some other characters remain dead as many have already argued, that could give this film truly high stakes and a lasting emotional kick. However, while I do understand this circulating argument, the story’s not over yet. And what was shown so far did have quite an emotional punch as is, even with knowing that a majority will probably survive. Plus, if they all do somehow survive, maybe the next film is where the true stakes lie and the real losses occur.

Most importantly though, if Gamora is forever dead after being thrown off a cliff by Thanos so that he could retrieve the stone, her death feels more like a plot piece than a character exit. Especially considering Thanos himself will most likely be defeated when things are all said and done, and his retrieval of the stone will ultimately be reversed in the sense that if he loses the war, it no longer matters, and she would have died for nothing.

The cinematography of the scene was also more Thanos-centric than Gamora, and considering we have much more of an attachment to her, as she is our hero, then it feels as if her death scene would include more of her perspective. Gamora’s a fighter and if she’s dying or about to die, she’d be fighting until her last breath. Comparing her death to say, Vision or Loki’s, who both also died at the hands of Thanos, it felt less personal. Loki died with Thor not too far away and was very much himself until the end, and Vision at least died (at first) on his own terms and got his proper goodbye with Wanda. Something about Gamora’s death though gave the vibe there are some unfinished business lingering and relationships that still needed to be worked through.

With that in mind, if she does not remain dead, and chances are she probably won’t based on a few key signs, then that holds significance at foreshadowing her role to come. Near the end of the film, Thanos sees little Gamora again, who reminds him that he had to give up everything to get his power which ultimately shows Thanos may possibly be experiencing some form of remorse. The emphasis on the time stone too hints at its possible role in her coming back to life. And if Gamora is revived, then she undoubtedly would probably play a large role in Thanos’ defeat, again proving that the weight of the MCU in this story specifically rests on her shoulders.

So, although I’m not ready to say RIP yet to a character who has meant so much over the years and has been a positive female figure in the superhero sphere,  it looks like we might not have to just yet. If she is indeed actually dead for good though, her memory is sure to remain and have an important effect on the following stories. And if this is true, I only hope that the next Avengers’ installment and Guardians Vol. 3 show in some way, that such a hero didn’t die in vain.

(Contributor)

Film lover and pop culture enthusiast.