As far as strong female characters are concerned, Black Widow certainly ranks high up on the list – skillfully played, in the MCU, by actress Scarlet Johansson. With a fiercely independent personality, good looks, riveting performance, highly developed skill set and mysterious back-story, she’s a favorite character for many.
For some in the younger generation, the character of Black Widow is even esteemed as a role model – made even more memorable as a powerless hero amongst the “god-like” Avengers – surviving on wit, instinct, skill and sheer tenacity alone.
And while Marvel has done an excellent job in casting and portraying the deadly assassin from the comics on the big screen, fans would agree there’s a few things producers at Marvel could have done differently.
1) No Black Widow Movie
While the MCU is now firmly planted in Phase Three, upcoming movies planned and released, Black Widow fans can’t help but feel the exclusion of one name in particular.
Granted, there certainly has been talk amongst producers to give the female Avenger her own movie, but with a full venue of titles lined up for Phase Three, fans have only to hope for a confirmation until Phase Four – by which time any number of things could have taken place in Phase Three films to influence the outcome of such a movie. Or even eliminate the character herself.
It makes sense that Marvel would want to focus on more titular characters such as Captain America and Thor, while bringing in fresh faces like Captain Marvel, but if the ratings have shown us anything, it’s that a Black Widow movie would more than sell.
With an as of yet unexplored back story, strong female lead and highly developed skill set, there’s no shortage of options for the direction a Black Widow movie could go. Not to mention, a release on the big screen is all but guaranteed to draw crowds, given the character’s exposure through the Avengers, Captain America and Iron Man movies.
Throw a few popular cameos in, and it’s an instant blockbuster.
The people have spoken, Marvel. We want a Black Widow movie.
2) A Forced Relationship with Bruce Banner
2015’s release of Age of Ultron, sparked a major reaction from Marvel fans across the globe; and while the responses were mostly in praise, there was an almost unanimous outcry against the established relationship between Black Widow and Mark Ruffalo’s character, Bruce Banner – AKA the Hulk.
While fans agree they hoped for a relationship of some form between one of the Avengers and Black Widow – many starting to pity Bruce Banner for his curse of loneliness due to his unreliable transformation into the Hulk – going from barely friends in Avengers, to doe-eyed lovers in Age of Ultron, seemed far too sudden to be believable.
And those several repeated hints at a relationship with other fellow Avengers like Hawkeye and Steve Rodgers? Black Widow’s seeming fascination with collecting friendship necklaces (the arrow and green gemstone) from her supposed love interests? It seems a clumsy, amateur move by Marvel to jump around with indecision, leaving audiences confused.
Admittedly, the “devil and the angel” play was a nice touch, with character Natasha Romanoff being the only one who can calm and subdue the Hulk; but if anything, that should have led to deepening the friendship and seeing how fans react to the possibility of a relationship later on.
Any on-screen relationship needs to have it’s audience cheering for them to be together, praying the stars align and they finally realize what’s right in front of them. Not raising eyebrows and feeling oddly relieved when one of the characters flies off into the sunset in a Quinjet to find his peace of mind.
A relationship between the Hulk and Black Widow could have worked – but not in the way Marvel decided to force feed it down it’s viewer’s throats.
3) A Sudden Damsel in Distress
Though one of the most anticipated movies prior to release, Age of Ultron was a disappointment in a lot of areas. One of which being the forced Black Widow/Hulk relationship discussed above, but another being the uncalled for departure from Black Widow’s personality.
Frequently, throughout the movie, viewers found Black Widow being portrayed as ignorant, flirtatious, a puppy dog in love and a damsel in distress. Known for her cunning, strength, determination and incredible skill, the master assassin is anything but that.
Granted, to call attention to her humanity, femininity and emotions is a good play to make (such as the scene where she describes her sterilization in the Red Room). But to stray so far from her true badass personality and portray her as helpless, weak and girly?
We all know Black Widow is a complex character, but please, Marvel, try not to stray too far in your search to do her justice.
4) Overplaying the Sex Appeal
It’s no secret the Black Widow knows just how to lure in her prey. Armed with good looks, a sultry voice and fantastic figure, a look is enough to make any man drool – the character frequently using this advantage to manipulate the situation to her benefit in both the MCU and comics.
I’m not going to argue that this attribute is crucial to both the character herself, and the storyline, but the issue has notably been a touchy subject amongst much of the female audience – critics suggesting that sometimes Marvel takes things a little too far.
What was otherwise a favorite Marvel movie, Captain America: the Winter Soldier tainted the Black Widow’s character for a time by shifting her personality into almost a snarky, hip-swaying plaything, that could have belonged in Mean Girls.
Don’t even get me started on Iron Man 2.
While using her sex appeal to get what she needs and advance the storyline is necessary, Marvel’s choice of relying on that outside of an undercover role, often goes unappreciated.
We already know Black Widow is an attractive spy, who’s good at what she does. We don’t need suggestive comments, camera-forced ogling of cleavage, and up-close screenshots of sexy, hip-swaying walk-offs.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that there’s more to the infamous Black Widow than just a pretty face.
What do you think about Black Widow’s character? Were there any issues you had that could make a fifth installment? Let me know in the comments below!