Black Widow Maybe: Marvel’s Natasha Romanoff Dilemma


Last month, I walked out of a movie theater disappointed in the film I had just seen. It was a great movie, one that neatly ticked off all the criteria on my checklist for a solid piece of entertainment. All, except one.  The box beside “inoffensive to women” remained woefully and hypothetically unchecked.

This movie was not Avengers: Age of Ultron, but walking out of that theater, it was the first film I thought of. A couple months away, I desperately hoped the superhero-packed sequel would not induce a similar reaction. Tony Stark’s womanizing aside, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was usually on board with the whole concept that women are people, too. The unapologetically incredible Natasha Romanoff is clear evidence of this: she made her mark straight out of the gate and has been holding her own ever since.

Well, sort of.  Age of Ultron lit up cinemas worldwide and unleashed one of the strongest divides the fandom had ever seen. At the center of the maelstrom? Black Widow.

In the deluge of criticism regarding Natasha’s representation in Age of Ultron, the voices of reason were buried. Context and circumstance were thrown by the wayside. Those who were against the way the character was depicted were pitted against those who thought misogyny was entirely absent from the discussion. Fans staged their own version of Civil War instead of admitting there was truth to both sides.

From tiptoeing executives to merchandising fails to character portrayals themselves, here’s how we ended up in this mess.

Up Next: Kevin Feige vs. the Standalone Film