This is pretty much a repost of a blog post that I wanted to write, and then realized someone else had already written it. So here’s to all of us aggrieved Black Widow fans out there. From Josh over at EssaysNotRants:
Cool, women are having a growing presence in the Marvel-verse. And yet, to my annoyance, there’s no friggin’ Black Widow movie planned.Understand, this isn’t some hyper-feminist rant about how there needs to be more women in everything. This is me asking why, when we have such a fascinating character, she doesn’t get her own spin-off film.
When it comes to wanting an action movie with a woman in the lead, there’s the difference between wanting it because you want a movie with a woman in the lead, and wanting one because there’s a good character. Yes, there is a dearth of action movies/blockbusters with women as the leads; but the solution isn’t to throw more women on screen, but to write more interesting stories about interesting women. Let’s talk about Salt. Frankly, I didn’t really like it. Her story just never enthralled me, it felt bland. Sure, we had Angelina Jolie running around doing Bourne-y stuff, but so what? Jason Bourne with boobs does not inherently a good movie make.
Compare The Hunger Games’ Katniss. Katniss clearly has a goal and motivations. We know what she wants, and, rather than pulling a Bella Swan, she goes to great lengths to achieve them. Most importantly, she’s an interesting character. She lives in an interesting world, finds herself in interesting circumstances, and makes interesting choices. And, unlike in Salt, the choices make sense and create a cohesive plot. Furthermore, Katniss isn’t some boring perfect character; she has her share of flaws and issues to work through. Why is this important? It adds layers to her and helps us get invested.
Look, I enjoy badass women in fiction. Let’s take Buffy as a prime example: She fights vampires. But she’s finely layered, within her fighting spirit there’s a vulnerability to her. She’s a fascinating character who’s not a teenage girl for the sake of being a teenage girl. Like Katniss, she’s a teenage girl because it makes for an interesting character.
Black Widow was a cool supporting-character in Iron Man 2, but it was in The Avengers when we really saw just how friggin’ awesome she was. She doesn’t have superpowers or a suit of armor, but she still fights bad guys and holds her own. Furthermore, rather than awkwardly trying to avoid it, The Avengers has Black Widow using others’ perception of her as a woman to her advantage. She keeps pace with the likes of The Hulk and Captain America, all the while being absolutely vital to the plot. And not someone else’s plot or development, The Plot and her own arc. Ever notice that after The Avengers people referred to her as Black Widow rather than as Scarlett Johansson? The character is more interesting than the woman playing her.
I want Marvel to take the gamble and dare to feature Black Widow in her own solo film (fine, have Hawkeye as a deuteragonist). Not just because she’s a woman — that’s a lame and patronizing reason — but because she’s a layered, complex superhero who deserves to have a story written about her.
Seconded on all counts. (Also, shameless plug for my own post in the same vein on writing complex, interesting, well-characterized women.)
There’s a time and place for affirmative action, but in when the original problem isn’t simple presence but complex representation — it has to be quality over quantity. Because an overabundance of badly-written tropey women would be counterproductive. And also unwatchable.
I want a Black Widow movie, for the sake of both the feminist and the geek in me. Because who said enjoyment and activism have to be mutually exclusive?