I'm just going to say it. Black Widow needs her own movie.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron release this weekend was the 2nd highest grossing U.S. debut ever. I'm not surprised. We bought our tickets in advance, and showed up a half hour before show time thinking we were ahead of the game. Nope. The theater had maybe 5 single seats scattered throughout--even the very front row was filled, and we all know how awesome it is watching a movie on the big screen from 2 feet away.
So we did what any self-respecting superhero loving family would do: we waited until the next show. The line stretched all the way from one end of the long hallway to the other a good 40 minutes before that one started. It was worth it. If you've already seen the movie, you know that. If not, take my word for it. My $10 ticket provided 2+ hours of action, drama, romance, snarky sarcastic comedy, explosions, world-in-jeopardy kind of stuff. No spoilers here, and that's not where I'm going anyway.
Here's my point. Black Widow is not a female superhero. She's a superhero. In the same way Thor is not a male superhero. He's a superhero. Black Widow holds her own in this movie, as in the first Avengers, both Captain Americas, Iron Man 2, and all the comics, TV shows and series before Scarlett Johansson's portrayal. Joss Whedon and ScarJo herself brought this character to dazzling, awesome life and I can't imagine a more perfect version of Black Widow (and yes I'm with the camp who still believes Whedon is a true feminist; take a look at the man's long history of strong female characters, people). Black Widow fights alongside her peers, kicking ass and, might I mention, relying on zip for special enhancements, unlike the rest of her team.
Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff, is a Russian spy who defected and now works for S.H.I.E.L.D., a secret law enforcement and counter-terrorism agency. She has no enemy honing personal hammer like Thor. No impenetrable space age suit like Iron Man. No laboratory induced superhuman strength or dangerous boomeranging shield like Captain America. She doesn't morph into a destructive green machine every time she gets angry. She can't fly, she can't use telepathy to alter perceptions, she's vulnerable to injury. And it doesn't matter.
Black Widow gets the job done. She's smart, calculating, compassionate, strong, resilient. She's the Avengers moral compass and protector, as is each member of the team at times. Black Widow is every bit as watchable as Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Hulk ... and, speaking as a girl, she sparks interest on a whole new level. Because suddenly this group of superheroes isn't a boys club anymore. Black Widow doesn't fit in by becoming like the boys, by playing the game their way. She rocks her skin tight black leather and red lipstick, she uses smarts and strategy to boost her physical power. She maximizes every asset in her arsenal, not the least of which is some pretty badass skill in crushing the bad guy. If I met her on the street, I'd love to make her my friend. If I was a man, I'd want to date her. If I was head of an assassin's ring, I'd recruit her. If I was a bad guy, I'd run screaming the other way.
So I'm joining the ranks of many who want the world to know we are ready for Black Widow's movie. We want to see an abundance of Black Widow action figures hit the shelves, only to sell out. We want to see Black Widow get the credit she deserves, along with other too-oft-ignored superheroes who just happen to be women (a post for another day). I'm in good company in my outcry. In the four days since Avengers: Age of Ultron opened, there are several petitions already in place, a SNL skit, and costars speaking out on Black Widow's behalf. It's 2015. Black Widow has earned her place on the big screen. How about it, Marvel?
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An entire generation of men and women recognize this iconic superhero instantly. Every little girl I knew, myself included, wanted to BE her. Every boy imagined her as his fantasy girlfriend. Wonder Woman could hold her own against any number of bad guys, bank robbers, jewel thieves or assassins. She wasn't a sidekick or cutesy arm candy for the real hero. She was IT.
Before I go any further, let me just admit it: I'm a super hero geek. I love comic books, really love seeing the movie incarnations of so many cool heroes, fangirl over Ironman with the best of them. But I am really getting tired of waiting for the sorely needed ass-kicking female super hero headliner movie. There's been much recent discourse in the media over this, with all kinds of excuses and conjecture attempting to either explain the deficit or deny it altogether. It's not like there's a shortage of female super heroes. There's Lara Croft, Black Widow, Rogue, Storm, Mystique, Elektra, Resident Evil's Alice, Katniss Everdeen, Divergent's Beatrice Prior (yes, they count, at least to me), to name a few (and no I am not including Batgirl or Supergirl). It's that they are always relegated to the background, rescued by the bigger, stronger male superhero, and generally assumed incapable of carrying their own movie.
So here's my question: if someone asks you to name a female superhero or two that you love, what would you say? And why? Please help me out and leave a comment below. I need to get into the collective minds of the women -- and men! -- out there. Thank you in advance for your thoughts!
Commercial women's fiction author. Debut novel THE FALL OF OUR SECRETS E-Lit Books