Fanboys hate Black Widow, reports Atlantic blog, like that’s her fault
I’ve been google trolling for Black Widow news since NYCC rolled around, and I came upon this slightly stale Atlantic article. Quoth the headline: Fanboys Don’t Like Black Widow’s ‘Huge’ Role in the Avengers Sequel.
You might remember our last nerd meet, where Whedon was quoted as saying, “Natasha is a huge part in the sequel.” He explained that you want to focus on the characters without their own franchises. Look, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America have scripts standing by and sequels to throw money at. Whedon has to put those guys back in the box when he’s done. It’s the characters like Natasha or Bruce or Clint he can really take from point A to point B, and that’s how the comics work too. New/Secret/Uncanny/Avengers/World can’t be the Steve/Tony/Thor manboat all the time, you have to have characters like the Wasp or Luke Cage in the mix to be the moving parts.
This concept is too much for one Steve L. of Unleash the Fanboy, whose site is down but apparently who whined loudly enough to get a whole Reddit thread started. (Reddit, that bastion of feminist thought.)
I’m pretty sure when Nietzsche wrote about the abyss staring back, he was referring specifically to comic book messageboards. Pretty sure.she is attractive but she was the worst choice for a russian assassin, she is too short, I would had pick milla jovovich
I mean this is astute and compelling analysis of Whedon’s weak points as a director, and not just a lazy comment reducing acting talent to phyisical appearance, yes?
The problem is that the Abad-Santos treats these redditors like their opinions are not just valuable, but absolute.
That column opened up a can of worms. “For me, I just think she’s boring. She didn’t come across to me as cold and calculating, just boring,” a Redditor wrote, explaining why he or she wasn’t thrilled with the decision. And some of the discussion then evolved into speculation about why a character like Black Widow would have a “huge” role in a movie featuring behemoths like Thor and Ironman. Some surmised that the biggest contribution her character could muster up would be her death. “It makes sense to drop her character because as they continue to add to the roster of heroes with powers, a normal chick with a pistol and luchador fighting moves seems rather boring,” another Redditor opined.
This is all even more evidence that Marvel hasn’t really delivered on its female heroes. Because it didn’t develop Black Widow enough… the studio is now seemingly faced with two options: propping up what feels to fans like a token character or fans thinking that the only thing she can contribute is her death
Let me break this down. In the Avengers, Black Widow had stand out scenes, memorable lines, a clear motivation. She was the one who gathered the team together, the one who figured out how to close the whispy blue space door, the one who saved the world and her partner. She’s a badass normal and so we see that this is situation unnormal and that she is badass.
But some people don’t see that at all, they see tits and ass and the shape of Scarlett Johansson’s eyes, because that is all they are looking for. And because all they are doing is looking, not watching, not listening, not seeing.
I don’t, of course, disagree with the article’s central thesis: Marvel needs to do better by its female characters. One female Avenger and zero female protagonists doesn’t cut it. But the solution isn’t a simple as “do better”— there are real biases against women in the action genre.And it brings us back to square one — Marvel needs to take a page from its own comics and realize that its female characters are part of the reason people read comic books. Bring a character to life that isn’t just a prop or a means to an end, and you’ll have fans willing to take her seriously.
Right? But giving Natasha powers won’t stop the fanboy from unleashing, and giving her a movie won’t stop the internet from calling her ugly or useless. Take a lesson from comics, where giving Carol Danvers her own series will keep hasn’t stopped fans from saying mean things about her hair.
Yet there are also fans who love Natasha, and take her seriously, storming Joey Q’s panels demanding their Black Widow film to real and virtual applause. That same Joss Whedon quote that had Reddit on a rampage got over 5,000 overwhelmingly positive notes here. Even on Reddit, not everyone is chanting for Whedon to kill her off. “She was actually one of the more interesting parts of Avengers for me, so I am hoping to see more of her,” writes one. “I thought Black Widow was awesome in The Avengers. One of the films highlights,” says someone else.
I know that I’m no more legitimate a source than something called “unleashthefanboy”— but that’s the point. If Steve L.’s nerdrage is noteworthy, damning, why isn’t mine? There is no last word on how fans feel about anything. The fanboy, that monolith that encompasses all geekery and lives in his mother’s basement, is dead, or maybe only ever lived in the hearts and minds of 80s teen flicks.
If we’re going to to have a productive conversation on sexism, female characters, and superhero movies, we need to look at why some fans have strong negative reactions to female characters and not assume the answer lies completely with the female characters in question. Too much “women in comics” talk is bound up in determining whether a lady character is “good” or “feminist”, which leads to this simplistic assumption that making them better (how?) will fix the biases in Hollywood marketing departments and with audiences.
Aaaaand THIS is why you hire people who actually participate in fandom and/or internet culture to write about fandom and internet culture. A few negative comments on Reddit does not a revolution make. You could probably find a Reddit thread dedicated to kitten-murdering, if you looked hard enough — but that doesn’t mean “Redditors want to kill kittens”. A couple of butthurt complaints about Black Widow being “boring” isn’t a big deal. Think about how much the so-called fanboys freaked out when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman — but they’re sure as hell still gonna show up and watch the movie when it comes out.
Remember when just after The Avengers came out, a whole bunch of professional critics genuinely seemed to think that Black Widow was an eyecandy character?? Even though she has one of the most prominent roles in the movie, is the most cerebral person on the team, and wore an outfit that was exactly as “revealing” as Captain America’s? To me, this latest article just looks like another weird misrepresentation of the movie and its fandom, from someone several degrees of separation away from the things he’s actually writing about.
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