One of the most memorable sequences in Avengers: Endgame is what's now typically referred to as the "A-Force scene," where the various female superheroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe team up and pose on-screen ("A-Force" is a reference to a Marvel comic book series about a group of female Avengers from an alternate reality). It is a powerful moment, but it is also one that has drawn criticism in the years since Endgame's release, with some critics believing that the scene was "pandering." As it turns out, the film actually had additional scenes shot specifically to address similar complaints from test audiences.
This was revealed by Endgame producer Trinh Tran in the new book, The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tran explained how the scene's final form came about, going back to the impact of a photo at a reception featuring the cast of Avengers: Infinity War, when Thor: Ragnarok co-writer Craig Kyle wanted a shot of the female actors present at the event.
Tran recalls in the book, "During reception, [Evangeline] Lilly connected with her fellow empowered actresses like Tessa Thompson, Brie Larson, Zoe Saldana and others. Seeing them bonding in front of him, Craig Kyle was inspired to try and capture the moment for his daughter back home. He asked Trinh Tran if she could collect them all for a group shot. Bringing those women together for that photo is what spurred their collective talk about an all-female Super Hero film that they then pitched to Feige. And in the immediate future, it led to the expansion of the finale battle featuring all of their characters in Endgame.”
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While Kyle's photo inspired the filmmakers to expand the sequence, Tran noted that there were always plans in the original script to take a moment to "really showcase and empower the women [in the MCU]."
However, once the film was in post-production, test audiences seemed to take issue with the sequence. The book notes, "In earlier cuts, Tran admits, ’When we started screen-testing it, there was a little concern for ‘Does it come off [as]pandering?’ Are we going to get people saying, ‘Oh you’re just putting that scene in there just to put the scene in there. Does it actually have a story to tell with the rest of the narrative?’ That was always a concern in the back of our heads.'"
Tran was adamant that the scene remain in the film, so cutting it was never an option. Instead, Marvel Studios shot additional scenes featuring the same female characters in smaller groups, so when the group shot occurred, it had already been set up, making it flow more naturally.