Essays, Gender, Movies, Opinion

The Sharon Carter Problem: How Marvel Keeps Failing Female Characters

Marvel movies are, by and large, not romances.

And that’s okay. When I go to the theater to see a superhero movie, I don’t need to see anyone falling in love. If a romance can be played well within the confines of a rich and compelling superhero story, I’m not going to complain—I’m a sucker for a great romance—but it’s not needed.

One of the most satisfying things for me about the Iron Man franchise was the incredible slow burn of the romance between Tony and Pepper—something that wasn’t fulfilled until the end of Iron Man 2. It goes against the grain of the typical action movie romance that often throws together two near-strangers in a situation where their relationship rapidly—often unbelievably—escalates over the two hours of screentime.  

Those action movie romances often feel like an afterthought, and do no favors to the female characters of the romantic duos (since, let’s face it, these are nearly always heterosexual pairs). We’ve definitely seen Marvel fall into that trap on multiple occasions over the course of their cinematic history.

The romance between Hope and Scott in Ant-Man seems like a tacked-on afterthought that shows barely any development over the course of the film, and might have been better off left to develop in later installations.  And Hope’s mother, Janet, who is the only founding member of the Avengers in their comic line-up to not receive her own movie, is reduced to a plot device who appears for under a minute and never even shows her face onscreen.

The “romantic” scene between Peter and Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy seems shoehorned in and really does no service to a story where the power of friendship takes front and center.

Betty Ross from The Incredible Hulk was unceremoniously erased from the timeline when Ed Norton left the role of Bruce Banner, and it’s hard not to read that choice as an inherent understanding on Marvel’s part that women are disposable and inextricably linked to their male romantic counterparts.

And many fans were upset with the treatment of the new romance between Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff, which seemed to be developed off-screen between films with little explanation.

We don't know, either, Hank. We don't know, either.

We don’t know, either, Hank. We don’t know, either.

Even secondary characters like Darcy Lewis seem fated to a weak onscreen romance. She suddenly kisses Ian, the intern, in Thor: The Dark World after no suggestion of development in that direction over the course of the film.  

But while it’s rare to see a romance in the MCU that works, one of the few exceptions is the tragic love story of Captain America: The First Avenger. Steve and Peggy’s doomed love affair captured so many people’s hearts that Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter was brought back as a lead in her own eponymous television show.

Fans love Steve and Peggy: love the way the characters complement each other, love their fairly chaste, bittersweet romance, love the chemistry between Chris Evans and Hayley Atwell that sells every single one of their longing glances. So topping that, in giving Steve a new love interest, was always going to be hard. I definitely didn’t envy anyone working on Civil War the task of trying to create a convincing and compelling new romance for Steve.

Steve Rogers & Peggy Carter: arguably the greatest superhero romance in the movies

Steve Rogers & Peggy Carter: arguably the greatest superhero romance in the movies

Choosing Sharon Carter, of all of Steve’s romantic interests, has an added dimension of complexity: Sharon is Peggy’s niece. In the comics, Sharon is originally Peggy’s sister, but later was adjusted to be Peggy’s niece in order to make up for the gap created by Marvel’s telescoping timelines that necessitated Peggy’s experience as a resistance fighter in France during World War II. Sharon Carter in the MCU films is Peggy’s grand-niece.

Of course the idea of Steve dating a younger relative of Peggy’s bothers quite a lot of people: for many women in particular, it smacks of the misogynistic trope of a man trading in a woman for a “new model,” and some people question the power dynamic between them, when Sharon very much idolized her great aunt. For many comics readers, the relationship between Steve and Sharon has always been troubling because of this dynamic—one exacerbated by the fact that Steve essentially stalks Sharon because he’s infatuated with this young woman who looks almost identical to his lost love:

Three individual panels from Tales of Suspense #75, script by Stan Lee, Layout by Jack Kirby, Pencils by Dick Ayers, Inks by J. Tartaglione, Lettering by Artie Simek

Three individual panels from Tales of Suspense #75, script by Stan Lee, Layout by Jack Kirby, Pencils by Dick Ayers, Inks by J. Tartaglione, Lettering by Artie Simek

(It’s important to note that Peggy never existed in the 1940s incarnation of Captain America. She was only created here specifically to create a dynamic between Steve and Sharon where Steve was convinced that he was being given a second chance at love by meeting a nearly-identical woman. This is a common trope in 1960s Marvel: Hank Pym notes upon meeting Janet Van Dyne for the first time that she is identical to his dead wife. And I’m not even going to get into Madelyne Pryor, who came somewhat later)  

Fortunately, the MCU has mitigated that issue a little bit by casting Peggy as a brunette and Sharon as a blonde, and creating an introduction for Steve and Sharon that couldn’t be farther from the original comic book story: in the MCU, Sharon is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent assigned to protect Steve without his knowledge.  Their interactions in Captain America: The Winter Soldier are adversarial at best, even if they are on the same team, as Steve doesn’t forgive her deception, even when he knows she was doing her job. Sharon has a couple of really great moments in Winter Soldier, particularly when she stands up against Rumlow.

Captain America #124, written by Stan Lee, pencilled by Gene Colan, inked by Joe Sinnott , lettered by Sam Rosen

Captain America #124, in which Steve essentially blackmails Fury into removing Sharon from the field, written by Stan Lee, pencilled by Gene Colan, inked by Joe Sinnott, lettered by Sam Rosen.

This is a huge improvement over not just Sharon’s introduction, but also Steve’s and Sharon’s subsequent relationship—a relationship that veers into outright emotionally abusive territory in its comics life. Early stories with Steve and Sharon include such gems as the time Steve stormed out of their first date because Sharon turned down his proposal of marriage (never mind he had never bothered to ask for her name) and the time that Steve went behind Sharon’s back to ask Nick Fury to remove her from the field because he decided her job as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent was too dangerous. Later, he emotionally blackmails her into promising that she won’t work in the field anymore, and when she reneges on that promise to save Steve’s life, he walks out on her and accuses her of being a liar.

Real classy, Steve. Though it’s certainly one of those cases where, as a reader, you can tell that we’re intended to see it as a fraught but exciting romance, when in fact, it just makes Steve seem like a jerk.

These aspects of Steve’s and Sharon’s relationship were a big reason why I—and many other fans—were hesitant about seeing a romantic relationship develop between the two characters in the MCU. But that wasn’t a reason to discount it wholesale, and certainly not a reason to ignore Sharon’s very important role in Captain America canon, which is far more rich and complex.

Captain America #114, written by Stan Lee, pencilled by John Romita, Sr., inked by Sal Buscema, lettered by Herb Cooper

Captain America #114, written by Stan Lee, pencilled by John Romita, Sr., inked by Sal Buscema, lettered by Herb Cooper

Sharon is herself, as mentioned earlier, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and considered one of the best. She has all kinds of cool tricks of the spy trade up her sleeve—including a miniature flamethrower concealed in her gloves, and other elements that seem to have found their way into Agent Carter more than they have into Sharon’s own arsenal. (Which is a smaller disappointment for me: I would love to see more Agent 13 at work with a set of fabulous spy tricks and toys.)

The Sharon of comics eventually dies (a woman in a comic book, dying? So new and inventive!), and then, even later, her death is retconned with a fairly convoluted plot, and after Sharon comes back, there’s quite a bit of tension between them, but eventually, she and Steve spend a short while simply being friends and coworkers. They care deeply about each other, but also know how to push each other’s buttons, and Sharon is a master at challenging Steve’s bullheadedness and lack of self-preservation. It’s during this period that their relationship is at its best: chock full of banter and great character dynamics where Steve and Sharon both act as foils to counter each other even when working together. There’s a real great buddy cop feel to these dynamics.

Captain America Volume 5 #1, Written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Steve Epting, colored by Frank D'Armata, lettered by Randy Gentile

Captain America Volume 5 #1, Written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Steve Epting, colored by Frank D’Armata, lettered by Randy Gentile

Of course, that ends with Steve and Sharon dating once again, and once again, Steve’s behavior toward Sharon is questionable, and on the heels of Steve’s apparent death in the days post-Civil War, Sharon is the victim of a plot that is brutal and gratuitous and ultimately unresolved (but which I’m being careful not to spoil further here for those of you who are reading Civil War, as I know a number of fans are right now). She’s been treated better (most of the time) in recent history (though she was temporarily fridged in Remender’s run), but a lot of fans still cringe when you mention Sharon in the context of Civil War.

Since that plot is a major aspect of the post-Civil War comics fallout, at least in the Captain America title, many fans were also worried that the films might go there, and it’s extremely fortunate they didn’t. But it was also disappointing to see how very stripped-down her role was. It’s tough to congratulate a studio on not repeating the mistakes of the outdated romantic ideals of 1960s superhero comics (not exactly a difficult task, folks), when they didn’t really do anything to let Sharon be who she has the potential to be, something we began to see in Winter Soldier, but was not followed-up on in any convincing way in Civil War.

With every Marvel movie, it increasingly feels as if, the moment a female character is written into a romance, the creators drop the ball on major aspects of her personality, her motivations, and her character development outside of that romance. In Civil War, we have a painfully awkward funeral scene where Sharon doesn’t even get her own lines: she gets to speak one of the most powerful lines from the original Civil War comic, but out of the context in which it was originally given (Steve, to Eli Bradley), in a way that made me feel not excited to hear an extremely famous comic book quote repurposed, but as if the creative team behind Civil War had done so little to really figure out who Sharon was that they tried to mitigate it by putting a famous quote in her mouth, rather than thinking about what she could say for herself. This is followed up by an equally awkward confessional scene that doesn’t work because it has none of the bite we see from Sharon in Winter Soldier, and none of the biting back-and-forth between Steve and Sharon that was the strongest part of what little dynamic we’d seen from them. Granted, she’s just lost a family member, but in that moment, we might have had more to make us emotionally invested in her as a person.  

It’s also become evident that some scenes between Steve and Sharon were cut from the theatrical release of the film, and as an audience member who was definitely left wanting more in order to feel invested in a relationship between them, I really wish that hadn’t been the case. 

A Cut Scene from Captain America: Civil War

A scene cut from Captain America: Civil War

This isn’t to say that romances need to be developed onscreen, but the best thing about seeing an onscreen romance is the emotional investment, the tug for us as viewers when we see strong feelings between two characters, and when Marvel has repeatedly left out those aspects of their romances, it reduces women’s roles (because a woman has yet to be the leading character in a Marvel movie) to that old, tired trope of merely being a reward for the male character for a job well-done, and not someone we’re meant to feel for or cheer for in her own right. I left the film feeling as if I would almost have preferred to see the film start with their relationship already in full swing—after all, Natasha told Steve to ask Sharon out two years ago at the end of Winter Soldier. And as we know from Age of Ultron, Steve himself says he’s learned his lesson about waiting. It’s almost more implausible that they haven’t been on a date yet, and we’re not given any explanation for why they haven’t.  

I also would have really liked to see the stakes raised between them: to develop a romance properly between two characters, you need to see what happens to them when they’re under significant pressure. When I saw, at the end of Winter Soldier, that Sharon was hired to the CIA, I correctly guessed that she’d be expected to work on bringing in the Winter Soldier. In the context of Civil War, this led to her almost being reduced to a narrative tool: she gets to give Steve necessary information, then disappears for the rest of the film. It might have been far more interesting to pit them against each other, at the beginning of a budding relationship: after all, Sharon saw the devastation of Winter Soldier firsthand, and many of her colleagues were killed. She would have every reason to believe that arresting Bucky, or simply having Bucky in protective custody, even if she believe he wasn’t responsible for his actions, would be the right thing. It would follow nicely from their interactions in Winter Soldier, as well, where we already see the potential for conflict rising between them even as they’re on the same side. It might have been a great contrast to see personal conflicts in a different kind of relationship juxtaposed with Steve’s bigger conflicts at the heart of the film, and would have created an added dimension to Steve’s perspective. It also would have brought forward the best, most interesting aspects of their comic book romance: the way they serve as foils to each other, the way they each act to keep the other’s worst and most extreme qualities in check.

At the end of the day, Sharon’s role in Civil War was ultimately disappointing because she wasn’t allowed to fully reach her potential. It’s hard to get invested in a romance when a film doesn’t deliver emotional moments to bolster that romance, and love interest or no, she should have had a larger role. That this is only the most recent in a number of films where Marvel has failed to allow female characters with great potential to shine in their own right is a deeply troubling phenomenon, and announcements of more female-led films doesn’t necessarily fix the way female characters are used in the male-led ones.  

  1. DMaster

    May 31, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    I know it gets tiresome, but I’m sure you’re even more tired of this crap, being a woman yourself, so I’ll say it anyway: WHY IS THIS SO HARD?!?

    1. Tea Fougner

      June 1, 2016 at 10:40 am

      I don’t think it’s so much that it’s hard as this isn’t where their priorities are. Which is fine, but then…don’t include it at all, y’know.

  2. David Berg

    June 1, 2016 at 12:53 am

    What with all the other stuff being crammed into the Marvel movies, I don’t lament the lack of romance, and I see Steve and Sharon’s kiss in Civil War as being an apt nod to “if only we’d had time for a romance”, as opposed to an actual attempt at one (in which case, I’d agree with you, it would have counted as a poor attempt).

    I’m totally with you on female characters getting short shrift, though. Tony Stark’s a compelling narcissist with a lot going on, but haven’t we seen enough of that by now? Doesn’t the MCU have enough good scenes and backstory established for Natasha to warrant giving her a bigger role in, like, everything? I’d give her her own movie, get more into her motives and priorities in the ensemble flicks, and prime her as the liaison between the high-concept and the down-to-earth corners of the MCU. I’m not eager to see Daredevil alongside Thor, but Daredevil and Black Widow would totally work (as it apparently did in the comics circa 1980). I think everyone’s done a good job with Romanoff in the time she’s been given — Johansson, the fight choreographers, many of the writers — and it’s absolutely a safe bet to give the character more screen time. The fact that we first get Ant-Man and Dr. Strange and Black Panther is pretty messed up.

    I’m also praying that Janet emerges from “shrank down too small” land via some quantum mechanical pseudoscience. Can you imagine her no-nonsense persona (what I remember from the ’80s) going head to head with Downey and Hemsworth’s Stark and Thor? It’d be fantastic. But, given the MCU’s track record to date with Marvel’s female heroes, I don’t see any reason to get my hopes up.

    Not that the MCU is unique in this regard. Storm is one of my favorite Marvel characters of all time, and Fox has given her NOTHING to date (I haven’t seen Apocalypse yet).

    I imagine some studio heads are claiming that some market research indicates that hero films make their bucks by luring in bros, so don’t mess up that formula with a female lead. But geez, you don’t need to stake $200M on a Black Widow movie — a Deadpool-sized budget is not only doable but actually appropriate given the character’s natural milieu. Just give the fans a CHANCE to prove you wrong, guys. Please?

    Pardon my rambling. Really liked your article. We shoulda hung out more at Vassar. 🙂

    1. Tea Fougner

      June 1, 2016 at 10:55 am

      Right?!! It doesn’t need to be there at all, which is why it feels SO WEIRD when it just pops in out of the blue like that.

      I’d LOVE some Daredevil and Black Widow. And I really do think they’ve done a great job with Natasha in-universe (though her part in CW was smaller and I don’t think she was used to her full potential in that story).

      I don’t think making Black Panther first is a problem: we are talking about a movie with a 90% Black cast that is going to have a ton of major roles for Black actors and particularly Black women who almost never get these kinds of roles in cinema. There still hasn’t been a major Black female character in a Marvel movie, and for women of color of other ethnicities, Helen Cho is it, and her role wasn’t huge. But they should have been making more major roles for both white women AND women of color earlier than this. And more POC-led films! There was, for example, no reason Scott Lang had to be white, and I think you could have had a lot to say about how the prison industrial complex unfairly affects men of color by making him Black or Latino.

      I heard Storm’s part was disappointingly small in this as well, but yeah. It’s not unique to Marvel to reduce women’s roles– but this kind of repeated use of women as trophies with little to no romantic development has begun to permeate all of Marvel’s films, and seeing it happen with one of the longest-ranging Marvel romances is just the cherry on the top of the poor representation sundae.

      In some ways, I wonder if their fear about making female-led films is because they don’t actually know how to make them.

      😀 thanks!

      1. David Berg

        June 1, 2016 at 12:37 pm

        Oh, totally with you on Black Panther! Assuming, that is, that it WILL be POC-led, as opposed to a bunch of white people’s movie about one black guy adventuring in white people land or some shit.

        I just meant that, on pure box office draw and popularity alone, Johnasson’s Black Widow has a case to be made over Ant-Man and Strange and Panther. Maybe you’re right, maybe Feige et al know Natasha is popular but just fear that they simply don’t know how to make a movie led by her. Which sounds like nonsense to me, but doesn’t mean it’s not their perception. Sheesh. Jessica Jones did well with viewers, right? Just get Melissa Rosenberg to co-write the Black Widow movie. A balance between her and someone like Markus might be pretty sweet! Or rope in Nicole Perlman from Guardians. There’s proven talent there.

  3. Lee Jones

    June 1, 2016 at 2:33 am

    Considering how many people were anticipating on seeing with whom Peggy would hook up in “AGENT CARTER”, I had no problems in anticipating a romance between Steve and Sharon.

    The problem is that in the end, Marvel fucked it up, thanks to the screenplay of “CAPTAIN AMERICA 3”. If they had focused on the movie being a solo Cap film, instead of a shoe-horned Avengers flick, the writers could have taken the time to develop Steve and Sharon’s romance. Why is it that very few people seemed to understand this?

    1. Tea Fougner

      June 1, 2016 at 10:32 am

      Absolutely! The characters need to be able to move on, and if Peggy is shown moving on and finding a new life, Steve should be able to do the same. Though what I think is really important as a distinction between Steve’s story and Peggy’s story is that in the context of Peggy’s story, the creators of Agent Carter were able to flip the usual fridging narrative and make it a story about a woman coping with the loss of a man she couldn’t save, and that makes dealing specifically with romance as a way to illustrate her coming to terms with Steve’s loss and being ready to move on an important part of that narrative. Whereas, while TWS dealt with that sort of narrative a little bit, CW did it in such a literal, tick-box way: “welp, Peggy’s dead AND LOOK HERE’S HER ATTRACTIVE NIECE.”

      I definitely agree with you. A Steve-only movie would have been the best place to develop a romance, not a movie that is focusing on the dynamics of a team dealing with their first major ideological divide. Unless the characters in the romance are both *part* of that ideological conflict, and Sharon was not really developed enough in that direction.

      1. Amelia

        August 12, 2016 at 1:47 am

        Agreed on how CW dealt with Peggy’s death. I was SO disappointed with the lack of wrap-up on that one. Agreed also with one commenter that Steve did show interest in Sharon in TWS — *however*, he was also clearly pretty angry about the fact that she’d spied on him (enough to where he brings that fact up again in Civil War) and whatever attraction he felt was not enough to outweigh the idea that she’d spied on him.

        Until he finds out she’s related to Peggy.

        And thaaaaaat was the squicky part for me.

        I also think a great deal of the problem is VanCamp. I truly thought Evans could have chemistry with a stick, but she really proves the exception.

        Granted, I can’t help but mentally compare her with Atwell’s portrayal of Peggy, and she just comes off the loser in every comparison, IMO. Atwell and Evans crackle onscreen. Atwell makes me *believe* she is punching hell out of people onscreen, whereas VanCamp’s scenes with the Winter Soldier make her look as if she’s doing spinkicks in ballet class. Atwell’s pitched her voice to have authority; VanCamp’s is just breathy and annoying to me.

        And add to that, just as they never gave her any words of her own to say at the funeral (I’m sorry, I gagged a little at Peggy’s eulogy basically becoming an apology/explanation to Steve instead of actually being, you know, about *Peggy*), they never gave her any reason to actually help Steve other than the fact that she knew about him through Peggy (or whatever she learned while spying on him). As was pointed out, she’d have every reason to arrest Bucky, not help Steve get him free.

        And in fact, that’s exactly the stance Sharon took in the comic Winter Soldier. Admittedly, I didn’t like her stance and didn’t much care for *her* in it (although I adored Sam, I did, I truly did) but she at least had a reason of her own for why she did what she did.

        In CW, she basically came across like a fangirl to me. And while I did get attraction from Steve, it wasn’t a ‘I’m falling in love with you’; it was more of a feeling he’d like to do her, but falling in love with her…no. Which, again, as little as he knows about *her*, makes sense.

        I’m not a Stucky or a Stony fan, so my reasons for disliking Sharon as a love interest for Steve aren’t because of that; it’s because in the comics, their relationship is just dysfunctional as hell. He’s overly protective; she’s a bitch. For all the crap he’s done to her, we also have her faking her death and then getting angry at *him* for not knowing it was faked. (Well, duh, Sharon, he believed what he was supposed to believe and that’s his fault?) There’s the ‘I will kill Bucky or else’ attitude in Winter Soldier. There’s the end of the comic Civil War and the really, REALLY horrific bit in the lab with Steve’s baby, which they conveniently don’t let her remember.

        (Honestly, how many times has Sharon’s brain been hit with the Marvel equivalent of the MIB neuralyzer over the years?)

        Basically, I love Steve dearly and I can like Sharon on her own terms. I just hate them *together*.

        But then again, other than Peggy (who was and will always remain my favorite), my favorite comic love interest he’s ever had was Bernie Rosenthal. I don’t see that changing. It sure as hell will never be Bucky as a love interest, TYVM – I don’t see it, I don’t feel it, and I love the bromance far too much.

        Thank you for a great article!

  4. Lee Jones

    June 2, 2016 at 1:39 am

    CW did it in such a literal, tick-box way: “welp, Peggy’s dead AND LOOK HERE’S HER ATTRACTIVE NIECE.”

    The problem with this description is that Steve had already expressed interest in Sharon before he had found out that she was Peggy’s great-niece. I find it hard to believe that Sharon is simply her niece. Remember their first scene together in “THE WINTER SOLDIER”? He thought she was a nurse who lived in the same D.C. building as he and asked her out for coffee. When he found out that she was a S.H.I.E.L.D. assigned to keep an eye on him, he got pissed.

    Nevertheless, Steve was definitely attracted to Sharon as far back as “THE WINTER SOLDIER” . . . before he even knew that she was related to Peggy. And Marvel screwed up this potential romance.

    1. Ash

      June 2, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      People always seem to ignore that Steve was interested in Sharon before he knew her last name. I think that their 5 minutes of screen time together in Winter Soldier was quite a great set up that was ultimately wasted in Cap 3. We see Steve interested and take a chance, angry when he realizes she was Shield the entire time, but then come back around in the end to still being interested in her. If the people over at Marvel would stop using Cap movies as vehicles for the other Avengers, Sharon (and Sharon/Steve) could get the development they deserve. Instead Sharon’s role in Winter Soldier was rewritten for Black Widow and we got a 20 minute Spiderman intro instead of focus on characters actually important to the Cap mythos. It’s annoying, but clearly the dudes over at Marvel just aren’t interested in giving female characters a fair shake.

    2. Tea Fougner

      June 2, 2016 at 5:20 pm

      I hope that the amount of time I spent focusing on Sharon’s role in Winter Soldier implied differently from this reading of that line! My point here is not that this is when Sharon shows up, but that the use of the funeral to re-introduce her in this film as a potential love interest did more harm than good.

  5. Lee Jones

    June 2, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    I never really got the impression that Steve and Sharon were thinking about romance at the funeral. If this had been a solo Captain America movie, the screenwriter could have slowly developed their relationshp into a romance by the end of the film, regardless of the circumstances of how they became re-acquainted. Unfortunately, Marvel decided to make this movie more of an Avengers flick, instead of a Captain America movie . . . leaving the screenwriters hardly any time to to develop their romance. This is why their kiss seemed so awkward and out of the blue to me.

    I’m still thinking about the Tony Stark/Pepper Potts break up. Marvel didn’t even bother to show it – which they could have done in “IRON MAN 3”. Instead, audiences were told about it. When it comes to romance, Marvel is becoming increasingly frustrating.

  6. Babeekat

    June 6, 2016 at 1:36 am

    I personally feel the movies (both the Winter Solider & Civil War) HAVE in fact given tons of screen time to Sharon as a viable love interest/character. I mean just look at how significant her role is in helping Steve? The whole movie Civil War wouldn’t have happened if without Sharon’s involvement. She already has the largest (positive) role as a non-avenger in the film. HOWEVER, the Kiss in Civil War still feels extremely awkward and out of place mainly because:

    1. Emily Vancamp’s lack of presence on screen and chemistry with Chris Evans. Despite the fact that she has been given plenty of materials to work with, the actress simply does not have enough charisma to materialize any of her plot into something that the audience would find memorable or exciting. The audience needs to anticipate and care about what’s going to happen next – unfortunately we couldn’t care less about what happens to Sharon Carter after that kiss. And judging from the ending, neither does Steve. I believe it would have been a completely different story had another actress portrayed Sharon Carter. Black Panther’s Dora Milaje had 5 seconds of screen time and has only line “Move, or you will be moved” and she turned out to be about 10 times more memorable than Sharon Carter.

    2. All the romantic/emotional buildup in Civil War (in fact the 2 previous Captain America films as well) occur between Steve and Bucky, not Steve and Sharon. In the entire CA trilogy, Bucky is the damsel in distress, Bucky is the one that put the Cap off-guard, Bucky is the one that causes Cap to become Captain America and give up that same identity (by dropping his shield, twice). All Steve’s life-changing decisions involve Bucky and none other. It has been pointed out even by multiple mainstream media (not just the slash fans/shippers) that Bucky is in fact the romantic lead, not Sharon Carter. All Captain’s emotional energy is completely focused on Bucky and this makes his Cap-Sharon bond even more disposable and weak than it already is. She might be the love interest for Cap, but all the audience know that she is not and will never be the most important person in his life.

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