Chop and Change: The Shifting Nature of Natasha Romanov

SPOILERS AHEAD

The most prominent female superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Natasha Romanov, aka Black Widow, has made appearances in four movies over six years: Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and now Avengers: Age of Ultron. This forces us to take Natasha not as different iterations of a character but as a constantly evolving singularity. Her arc is less of an arc and more of a Rubik’s cube, with different facets aligning to reveal new elements to her character.

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When it comes to female superheroes, it’s quality, not quantity

This is going to get very nerdy.

The L stop near my home in Chicago is plastered with Avengers posters in advance of the movie hitting theaters on May 4. As I was studying the display, I thought about how much Scarlett Johansson stands out, and no, not just because her little gun looks ridiculous next to Thor’s hammer and Iron Man and The Hulk. No, I was thinking about how, as the only woman featured in the marketing campaign, Johansson solely represents what women will be in Joss Whedon’s version of the Avengers universe (good thing Whedon has a history of creating intricate, strong female characters). What I get from Black Widow, the superhero Johansson plays, in the ads is “sexy but functional”. Her leather body suit, though tight and unzipped, doesn’t actually show any cleavage. It’s no more exploitative than Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye costume or Chris Hemsworth’s Thor getup, which leaves their awesome guns bare. Continue reading “When it comes to female superheroes, it’s quality, not quantity”