There has been some debate, among me and my friends as well as among others on the internet, about whether or not people liked the Black Widow character in The Avengers. She was the only female hero in the movie, which I discussed a little bit in a previous post, and I personally think she did a really great job. However, one of the first reviews I read was author Jim C. Hines’ post, Black Widow and Power. He argues that since she was the only one to use her vulnerability as a weapon, it’s a bit of a subversion of sexism, but at the same time is disturbingly seductive. Hines also argues that, “He [Loki] rips into her more viciously than he does anyone else in the film, including his own brother”, and that Bruce Banner doesn’t ‘fake’ anger towards anyone but her. I’m not sure if I agree with all of this. If you read through the comments, other readers have also brought up points, such as that Banner probably would have done the same thing to anyone (and I could definitely see Captain America, at least, reacting similarly to Black Widow).
Anyway, since reading that review, I’ve read a couple more. For instance, this post over at HelloGiggles lauds the fact that she’s vulnerable, and that she has the courage and strength to use it and risk her emotional well-being for the good of the world. I think that this article brings up a good point; Black Widow is human (read: not a superhero, just a super badass), and she has human emotions and is mortal, and at least she knows it! Additionally, Kelly Thompson discusses Joss Whedon’s history of bringing strong female heroes to the forefront in this post, and she concludes that Black Widow was a success. She says, “Whedon has absolutely (and elegantly) nullified the argument that females can’t work as fantastic superheroes in mainstream films”.
Finally, Ian Grey at Indiewire wrote a post about how the perceived success of the Black Widow character is all from female critics while the perceived lack of success comes from male critics. I don’t have enough data to really agree or disagree with him, but I think it’s an interesting point. I do tend to agree more with the HelloGiggles article than Hines’ post, because I do think that Black Widow was one of the strongest, sanest, and coolest characters in the movie. She’s definitely a good female role model, and I hope to see more of this type of character in superhero movies! She definitely held her own with the male superheroes, and gained their respect. I guess that puts me in camp Yay Black Widow!