Oh, I’m going to get in shit for this. Lots and lots of shit.
After Avengers: Age of Ultron, Joss Whedon said that he had little desire to tackle superheroes again. That was good, we thought, because Age of Ultron was not a great movie, and is easily the weakest part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The plot made little sense. Ultron made little sense. And the relationship between Black Widow and Hulk made no goddamn sense and was shoehorned in there for… what, exactly? What was gained by having those characters act so out-of-character?
Nothing. We did, however, lose out on something.
See, Hulk and Nat had no real pre-existing relationship in that world, other than Nat being terrified of the Hulk (which really does make her one of the smartest people in that universe). You know who did have a good bromance going on? Hulk and Tony. Imagine Tony singing that song and panicking during the battle between Iron Man and Hulk, imagine the emotion of a bond we’ve seen in Avengers, Iron Man 3, and Avengers 2. There’s pathos there. There’s story and character development.
Instead, we got this:
Natasha just compared not being able to give birth to becoming an unstoppable rage monster. Under Joss Whedon’s watch.
We love Joss. Everyone loves Joss. Joss is awesome. Buffy and Angel were great and Firefly was transcendent and Much Ado About Nothing and Dr. Horrible were amazing. The Avengers was incredible. Joss, though, is beginning to show signs of weakness with his fridging of female characters (Tara, Fred, Penny) to further the stories of male ones, and allowing Nat to become a love interest and then a self-hating self-described monster who feels that her inability to have kids makes her less than human.
Yes, there’s more to that scene. Good luck finding it, though… all of rest of Nat’s reasons for believing she was a monster were left on the editing room floor. The same thing happened in Captain America: Civil War, but was saved for the novelization. Check this out:
Natasha studied Cap’s expression of resolve. Finally, she said, ‘In Russia, in the Red Room, there were dozens of us. All girls, all young. We lived together. They let us be friends. Then they dropped us in the tundra, two weeks’ walk from home, with just enough supplies for one of us to survive.’ Cap looked at her, understanding her meaning. ‘Don’t let them push us into the cold,’ she said.
Wow. Just… wow. Okay, that is a character I want to see more of. That is the attraction of the Black Widow character, that she knew darkness and found the light and chose to be good rather than a monster. It’s the draw of someone who’s red is never coming out of the ledger, for whom redemption is impossible, but she’s still choosing to try rather than give in and become the demon she was made to be. Her familiarity with brutality and evil is what makes her one of the most dangerous members of the team, and allows her to stand beside gods and super soldiers as an equal.
Now that Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has announced his commitment to a Black Widow stand alone movie, we might actually get to see something like that play out on the big screen.
In the meantime, there’s always the book.
Joss, meanwhile, is set to direct a musical crossover between Flash and Supergirl on the small screen this year, so we’ll see how that goes.