While I never got in reading comic in a hardcore way, it was always because there’s just too much of them. I was never sure where to start, and I hated the idea of ‘missing’ parts of the story.
Which isn’t meant to slam comics. I find them visually and intellectually appealing, I just like my fiction more easily accessible.
So when the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked into high gear, I was super, super stoked!
And while I wish a few more female superheroes were shown, I loved the one we got… Black Widow.
While I loved watching her grow and change as the various movies came, I was (like most people) disappointed that she’s not getting her own movie.
Which brings us to Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the big bruhaha that was. I’m going to ignore the ‘childlessness = monster’ controversy, because that’s not what she said. She isn’t a monster because she can’t have children, she’s a monster for letting people sterilize her. It’s the ‘letting’ not the ‘childlessness’ that makes her a monster in her own eyes.
My main issue was why everybody thought she was weak or acting out of character.
The first and most obvious ‘weak’ moment is when she gets captured. Funny, nobody said that about Hawkeye when Loki captured and brainwashed him.
I’m not sure how a completely normal, human woman is supposed to fight off a robotic monster, but can we please also remember that she found a way to contact the Avengers and tell them where she was. Where’s Black Widow’s meme about creating a telegraph machine in a cell with scraps?
And then there’s the Black Widow = Buffy argument. If you don’t want to read the article, the author, Alice Meichi Li, claims that Joss ignored all of the Black Widow’s previous characterization of seeking redemption and turned to his Buffy roots. In other words, Widow’s desire to run away with the Hulk is out of character.
It took me a while to figure out why I disagreed. But then a certain scene flashed across my tumblr and it all made sense.
Jump to 1:13, if you want to watch it. If not, I’ll summarize. Black Widow is not going off with Nick Fury. Black Widow has burned through all her covers. Black Widow dumped her entire history on the internet and testified before Congress. without a disguise
For the first time in her life, there are no secrets, no hiding, everybody knows about her.
It had to be liberating as hell.
So then we come to Avengers 2, the romance with Hulk, and her wanting to run away. Which is the crux of the previously linked article. Why does she suddenly want to run away?
And I posit that it wasn’t sudden, at all. After all, most of her characterization in the movie hinges on her time in the Red Room. She tries to fail her test, she tries not to become an emotionless assassin. What is that, but an attempt to run away?
And eventually she does. Remember the first Avenger’s movie.
She did run away, but she was still ‘The Black Widow.’
But, now she’s not the secret assassin anymore, because of the whole dumping all of SHIELD onto the internet and testifying before Congress. She can figure out who Natasha Romanov is. And that might not be a super spy/assassin.
This, of course, brings us to the final controversy, her relationship with Bruce Banner.
Granted, it’s fear. But it’s an open emotion that she isn’t using to manipulate someone. Even her anger when Hawkeye is captured is cold and calculating, a closeted emotion.
Bruce lets her be her. Although, who she is, is something she’s still discovering in Avengers 2.
Which is why that scene with her standing alone at the end is so heartbreaking. The one person (besides Hawkeye) who saw a person, and not an assassin or an asset, left her.
So she goes back to the life that she got shoved into, although this time it truly is a choice.
In fact, I think the only misstep in this plotline was Hawkeye not noticing the flirting between Natasha and Banner. He’s the guy who sees things, after all.
Are you really going to tell me that the guy who can shoot Chitari out of the sky without looking missed his best friend falling in love?