“I’ll Persuade You” and The Black Widow Does.

“Is it hot in here or is it just all this leather I’m wearing?”

When you make a movie that grosses over a billion dollars and shatters box office records like The Avengers, every little detail of it is going to be picked apart, analyzed, and dissected down to its essence trying to figure out how it became such a category crossing sensation that defies demographics and appeals to teenagers, couples, families, fanboys of all ages, races, shapes and sizes.

It’s a major plus to hire a director who likes his women characters and treats them as important components instead of pretty girls in tight spandex.

The Black Widow can’t fly, doesn’t wear a suit of high-tech armor, doesn’t sport a mystical hammer, unbreakable shield, or get big mean and green, but that doesn’t mean she has no game. Of all the incredible things Joss Whedon put into The Avengers he gave a second-string super heroine major game.

Black Widow 2.0 is a vast improvement over her uselessness in Iron Man 2 she almost seems like a brand new character despite being played by the same actress. In the trailers, the Widow and Hawkeye looked like they were there to fetch coffee for Cap and Iron Man. Whedon was crafty to not give away what he had planned for Natasha Romanoff. . More screen time than Thor, Bruce Banner or Hawkeye and third behind Captain America and Iron Man.

Just don’t believe Scarlett Johansson got the role of Black Widow based upon her immense acting abilities as opposed to how hot she looks in a completely impractical outfit so tight if she you can tell if a coin in her pocket is heads or tails.  There’s plenty of beefcake in The Avengers. Let’s not pretend the Black Widow’s primary power isn’t eye candy, but to Johansson, Whedon and co-screenwriter Zak Penn’s infinite credit, they made Natasha Romanoff so much more than that.

Pretty people get cast as superheroes.  Even if they wear masks, they tend to lose them exposing the actor’s face.  If you’re an incredibly good-looking dude like Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth, that’s  understandable.  Lucky for Johansson she’s both pretty and plays a character that doesn’t hide her looks behind a mask. Looking pretty and occasionally punching out someone was all she was given to do in Iron Man 2. 

It sure helps to work with a director who likes female characters.

So I wasn’t excited to see the Black Widow was an Avenger until I saw The Avengers.  Whedon is justifiably being lavished with praise for doing the following:

  • Fixing the problem of two previous attempts to present the Hulk as something more than a CGI hot mess.
  • Made a superhero movie fun instead of dark, grim and gritty without making it dumb.
  • Turned a supporting character who was previously little more than sexy wallpaper into a valuable member of a group instead one of their weakest links.  And she’s still sexy.
  • Doubled the expectations that The Dark Knight Rises can’t get away with just being good; now it has to be great.

Sexism has been a part of the comics as long as there have been women in comics. All you have to do is look at how often Wonder Woman is depicted bound and chained. Despite DC’s “New 52” revamp, while Superman got out of his “undies on the outside” look, they put Wonder Woman back in her one-piece bathing suit. The more things change….

That’s why the Black Widow runs around in curve-hugging black leather that is all but useless in a fight, but  looks cool.  Whedon likes to give his actresses interesting things to do and say, but he has to pander to popular tastes too and guys really like women kicking ass in tight clothes.   As least she’s not wearing heels.

One of the last frontiers for the super hero genre is to make a successful one featuring a super heroine.  Wonder Woman seems like a no-brainer, but DC Comics has been inept at making movies featuring characters not named Superman and Batman.  Hollywood is reluctant to put millions into a movie featuring women or minorities as the center of attraction.

The speculation Marvel will greenlight a solo Black Widow film is running rampant on the Internet, but like most things online, doubt everything until the ticket stub is in your hand.  It could happen and it should happen, but whether it does happen is no sure thing.

I’m taking my nephew to see the movie tomorrow.  He won’t care if the Black Widow is a strong hero or an objectified sex object. . All he’ll care about is how much butt she kicks.  He might also take a long look at how her butt looks.

Yeah, you think it’s easy kicking butt in skin-tight leather? Try it sometime.

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