A woman cosplaying as Black Widow, apparently a sexist character, at ComiCONN 2013.

Yeah, that’s what we’re apparently being told by both Esquire commentary writer Dom Nero (apparently you’re allowed to swear in Esquire, which I thought had more class) and by Jac Schaeffer, the writer for the upcoming Black Widow movie. Fans of both the Marvel Comics Universe and Marvel Cinematic Universe has been asking for this movie since Iron Man 2 opened the possibility. Since then she’s popped up in a few different Marvel movies but has yet to receive her own. I wrote in the past that they should only do so if they have a good story for her. Apparently even if we do we aren’t getting a good adaptation of the character.

“I’m not interested in adhering to comic canon that is discriminatory in any way or that violates my values system.”

This leads me to ask why you’re doing so then? It would like me working on The Boys, the Amazon series based on the WildStorm/Dynamite series where super”heroes” act more like supervillains, a direction I think DiDio would love to take DC. That violates my beliefs on superheroes and Marvel comics adheres less to my values system, or good superhero stories, every issue they put out. So I wouldn’t work on them. This is another example of “I can do it better but don’t have the guts to work on something original because I like the name and want everything out there to be produced only for my tastes and beliefs”, and she even states in the article that she “wasn’t a huge superhero movie fan before starting to work [at Marvel], but now that I’m doing it, there’s just so much opportunity to make big, positive statements.”

For some reason both the article and movie writers, who have shown they know or care nothing about the source material are going to tell the fans what Natasha Romanoff is because they don’t know or care about who she is. Fans do, which is why they asked for this rather than a Captain Marvel movie, which I’m still convinced was to make sure Billy Batson didn’t get to have his superhero name in the movie. (Which is fine because what we got was Billy Batson 52, not the REAL Billy.) I think we need to learn who Black Widow is and how she’s actually treated in the Marvel universe. What about her would make these two willingly ignorant sad sacks think she’s some sexist character? Let me see if I can figure this out.

Is it her backstory?

Natasha Romanoff was an assassin and saboteur for the KGB, trained to kill in many ways both stealthily and by kicking butt. She’s a graceful fighter. Tony Stark once compared her fighting moves to a dance, and given her early love of ballet that’s not all that surprising. The MCU added that her “creators” (for lack of a better term) also made sure she couldn’t have children so that she couldn’t be pulled off of a job to have a baby. Yes, her handlers in the comics were men, but is it any better than women were part of her training and sterilization in the MCU?

This wasn’t to show that men were bad but that the Soviet Union, a bunch of communists during the Cold War, were bad people. The stories you hear about the KGB should be proof of that. She’s a villain turned hero, who not only is a member of the Avengers, but even led them after the attack by Onslaught, where Marvel tried to push some of their titles into an alternate universe run by future DC imprint WildStorm and whatever Rob Liefeld’s studio name was that year. If the Avengers fell apart under her care it was only to move the concept to the Heroes Reborn universe. And we all know how badly that went. Nobody has ever held it against her because even Captain America couldn’t have held the remains of the team together after that. She even took on two of the Thunderbolts, the flight-armored MACH-1 and the solid-sound using Songbird, and won. She also tried to get them to reform for real like she did because she’s also a good, caring person. I’m not expecting to see that in the movie anymore.

Also note that while men do find her attractive (which she uses against her enemies–I’ll come back to that in a moment), every hero who has served with her has nothing but admiration and respect for her as a hero and spy. Tony Stark didn’t rush off to help her because she’s that hot but because he would do that for any Avenger. SHIELD utilizes her services quite often. She is respected for her fighting talent, infiltration skills, and her determination to see a mission through to save the lives of innocent people. They treat her as just another member of the team. (We’ll ignore the Ultimate Universe portrayal though.)

Okay, so maybe you can fight in high heels.

Is it her build and outfit?

Any time a woman has a sexy body it’s immediately written off as “male gaze” or “male sexual fantasy”. While those designs do exist the belief that it’s the only reason is foolish. First off, Natasha is a trained martial arts fighter. She’s a killer. She can get into places most people can’t. This requires a certain physique and yes said physique is considered attractive. Most fit people, male or female, are considered sexy to other people. We all have our own interests. Some guys prefer a woman with a bit more padding, or more muscles. Some prefer women shorter than them, others taller. That’s just a side effect, not the end goal. Natasha not only likes to keep in shape for her health…well, I guess not being killed by her target would qualify as “health”, but that’s really her goal.

And yes, she does use her good looks to manipulate men. She also uses their misogyny against them. Look what she did to Loki in the first Avengers movie.

The thing is Natasha doesn’t just get by on her looks. She’s also very intelligent. That’s also a requirement in her line of work both former and current. If you aren’t clever, you’re dead! Natasha can think her way out of a situation as well as she can fight. She can manipulate you as well as she can kick your skull in. She once used her “widow’s sting” a set of electric bolt projectors she wears on her arms, to “jumpstart” Tony Stark’s heart. She can assess a situation and come up with solutions just as well as her male colleagues and better than the article writer I’d wager. She’s smart, she’s fit, she’s deadly. That’s what fans are looking to see out of her and why they’ve wanted a movie for so long. It’s not just because Scarlet Johannson is hot. Yes, she is, but that didn’t help Ghost In The Shell, a movie that got the Major wrong and annoyed fans of that franchise. She is a good action actress given the right script and direction. She’s had good and bad fight scenes over the years, and some of her best have been in the MCU.

As for her outfit, what do you expect her to wear, something off the rack at K-Mart? She has to run, kick, squeeze through tight openings, dodge…do you complain that an Olympic athlete wears a tight outfit? You try doing gymnastics in a parka and hammer pants (which come to think of it Natasha could probably do–look what she just did in high heels) and see how well you pull it off.

No, they never dated. I’m just running out of Black Widow images.

Could it be her love life?

Yes, Black Widow in various continuities have dated Hawkeye, Captain America, Bucky (not in the same continuity because that would be weird), Daredevil, Tony Stark, and maybe one or two others. However, Daredevil has had a number of his own relationships, and at least some of his girlfriends haven’t tried to murder or betray him. Tony Stark is a serial dater and so is She-Hulk. (Not surprising they dated.) Marvel wanted to end the Spider-Marriage just to make Peter a serial dater because relationships takes more effort to write than they do to have one, and they think Spidey readers are dateless losers who can’t relate to marrying someone beautiful. Going out the Marvel Universe, name one of Batman’s movie girlfriends who doesn’t learn he’s Batman, and two that ever showed up again in the sequel. That’s still better than all the failed romances he’s had in the comics and even the DCAU. The fact that Natasha has dated often just makes her part of the roster at this point.

Yeah, I see why this cover started the Hawkeye Initiative.

Is it because of her being drawn in sexy poses, even when it looks ridiculous?

Get a director and cinematographer who know what they’re doing and are more interested in the story, whose only definition of “fanservice” is “make the character fans of the character for decades expect to see” and that problem is solved right away.

To act like the character in the comics is only there for men to drool over is pathetic and reeks of not understanding the character. I only have a few comics she’s in because I don’t do a lot of spy stories, so I’m sure someone better versed in Black Widow lore could point to the best comics to really understand who she is as a character but Hollywood only cares about concepts and surface impressions. They have no interest in the source material but will gladly use those popular names to prove their stories are “better”, push their social agenda, or just get a story they’ve been wanting to tell out there without putting any effort in pushing something new. And since Hollywood looks down on comics as a medium it’s not like that’s going to change anytime soon, especially when Marvel and DC are currently doing it to themselves. Maybe this movie will be good, and maybe it will be better than Captain Marvel, but the writer herself just admitted that it will be a terrible adaptation because she knows and cares nothing about the source material.

Learn what the character is really like rather than just automatically assume she’s just there for horny men? That’s too much like effort and caring about other people. It tends to get in the way of hate and over-inflated egos. It’s easier to look at the surface, make snap judgements, and call your critics “trolls”. Heaven forbid you care about anyone but yourself.

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

3 responses »

  1. […] difficult to cover MCU-related stuff. I don’t like what I’m hearing about Black Widow as I mentioned, but until I see the Infinity movies and Guardians Of The Galaxy volumes 1 and 2 I’m a bit […]


  2. […] classics, the Marvel news involves characters I wasn’t invested in and the Black Widow news we had previously took the interest out of that movie. The Rise Of Skywalker interests me more out of morbid […]


  3. […] When Should Your Hero(ine) Be Sexy: Look, I’m not defending fictional women drawn only to be sex object for the readers when it makes no sense within the story. However, sometimes there is a good reason to draw a woman with a fit, attractive body or in a skimpy outfit. It’s the times there aren’t good reason that someone should rethink their design. Then again I’m arguing with people who think Black Widow is sexist. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s