Nat is annoyed with the fanboys as much as we are.
Note: This rant has been edited to make the conversation flow better
SPOILER WARNING! If you haven’t seen Avengers: Age of Ultron or just about all the Marvel Cinematic Universe films up to this point, best to avoid this rant. Also may be spoilers for Buffy, Firefly, Serenity, Hannibal, The Walking Dead and other pieces of fiction Jashykins is way more versed into than I am.
So here we are standing three years later, another super-ultra-epic Marvel crossover has released and grossed a ton of money. I wonder what the internet feels of it…
*Sees people with torches and pitchforks*
Oh goodness what’s going on now?
Jash Derin Kol-Ze a.k.a. Jashykins:
Oh, haters, didn't see THAT coming. Now
*sips coffee as well*
Huh I thought I smelled the rage of fanboys.
Whedon is not perfect but it feels like he's being picked apart ever since The Avengers. There are things you can complain about, he's not perfect, but then there are things that just show that you're really reaching for something. A few nights ago I saw a post on tumblr complaining about his Twitter icon.
I haven't kept up too much on the hate as I just saw the movie and before didn't want a lot of spoilers (except when it comes to Science Bros and Brutasha headcanons which I just have to take a peek at when I see). Mind you I knew about some of the hate before the movie even premiered.
Apparently they are none too happy about Whedon’s treatment to a certain character. Now of course it’s not the only thing people are mad about of the movie (The Maximoff twins stripped of their Romani and Jewish origins) but this one particular seems to have been the more popular.
Natasha Romanoff, ex-KGB turned S.H.I.E.L.D. turned Avenger, introduced in Iron Man 2 and to date has made four Marvel Cinematic Universe appearances, all played by the lovely Scarlett Johannsson. Up to Age of Ultron her character had been given a favorable acceptance by fans, even if Iron Man 2 wasn’t exactly the most flattering of introductions (We’re introduced to her Black Widow costume with a shot of her ass), made up for it in active participation in both first Avengers and especially Captain America: The Winter Soldier essentially being the second most vital character next to Cap himself. She is also one of the few main women in the MCU without a love interest.
That is when Age of Ultron happened, and things got ruined forever for fans. Natasha suddenly has a romantic attraction to Bruce Banner, is given a tragic backstory that involves forced sterilization as a “graduation” that supposedly makes her see herself as a monster, spends a portion of the movie being kidnapped only as a way to get the rest of The Avengers to the final set-piece, which may or may not have been due to ScarJo being preggers at the time of filming. Suddenly the once heralded cult icon and feminist, Whedon is now being trashed as a sexist douchebag.
Or could it possibly be, I don’t know, Whedon isn’t the flawless writer people have idealized him to be? Though I can’t say as much I haven’t seen his infamous works Buffy or Angel. I think you’re a little more versed in Whedon, care to comment?
I don't get people being upset when a character has a romantic interest. It doesn't automatically reduce the female to just a love interest. She is just as kick butt, but she has an emotional attachment is the only difference. While I would've adored seeing the beginning stages of that relationship as it really plays into her overcoming her fear of something that she can't control (in this case the Hulk), Whedon had a run time to follow and therefore couldn't cover the whole relationship from beginning to end.
At the end of Age of Ultron her being sad about Bruce going away I believe is two-fold:
First: she is sad that the man she loved and was forming a connection with has gone away from her. It's heartbreaking as she usually doesn't give her heart to anyone.
Second: the reason Bruce left her (as I see it) is because she violated him. He had no interest to being the Hulk at the moment and she was able to push him over the edge (I'm sorry, I'm just loving that that's literal and figurative at the moment). So violating him in a sense. So she probably wonders if she can actually be close to anyone, not just in a romantic sense, when her sense of getting the mission done is so strong.
I'll stop myself from analyzing their relationship in the movie here as that's a post on its own.
I somehow got the sense you might be a little more into Nat and Bruce’s relationship you are a person who is usually into shipping. However I feel like this was one element I agree with the detractors though not really as severely. I only agree insomuch that I don’t think it was really that well done. I get what Whedon may have been going for, but honestly the way both Nat and Bruce interact with each other doesn’t really work as a romance.
They are of course both broken souls who have gone through two different set of circumstances that made them “monsters”, but I don’t really see it as romantic per say. You can still have a bond between these two and not have it be lovey dovey. I think it could have worked more as a kinship, thinking like the whole bond between Raleigh and Mako in Pacific Rim, was able to work a strong connection between two characters of the opposite gender without making it romantic.
As well, the MCU seems to want to forget the existence of Betty Ross. I mean I know The Incredible Hulk wasn’t exactly the high-end of Marvel Cinematic Movies, but still with all the love between Natasha and Bruce couldn’t have some acknowledgement of Banner’s previous love? They haven’t shied away from acknowledging the film in other ways like the battle in Harlem, or the deleted opening when Banner tried to commit suicide in the Artic. We even get name drops of Pepper Potts and Jane Foster in Age of Ultron… nothing for Betty… at all?
I will not defend the detractors in-so-much on the aspect that giving a central female character a romantic arc is weak, Katniss Everdeen is still considered a strong character in spite of being tied in a sort-of romantic triangle. On the other side of the spectrum is Tauriel from the second and third Hobbit movies whose character was pretty much defined by having a romantic arc, and little else, becoming absolutely pointless to the story by the end. But I never saw Black Widow losing everything about her badass-ness because she had a romance; I just wished if they were to include it, it should have been better written.
Yeah, I am into it. I admit to reading a short fic that sold me on the ship before I even knew that it was going to be canon in the MCU. So saying that seeing the first trailer with hints of Natasha and Bruce nearly broke my heart is an understatement. Hardly any of my ships seem to get the canon treatment.
I think if they showed the Bruce/Nat relationship evolve then it would've appeared better to most people. But with the run time and the movie being crowded as is, it would've been much poorer if Whedon had to develop the relationship from an earlier point as it would've taken up too much time. Any relationship in a movie shouldn't detract from the story at hand, exceptions are if the work of fiction is in the romance genre.
I like the love triangle in The Hunger Games because it becomes just as much about the individual characters as their connections to each other. But that is yet another topic that would take an entire post to fully explain.
Okay, I will admit I need Betty Ross in the MCU again. Because she just gets forgotten so much that it is annoying. Everyone else gets their relationships at least acknowledged but Bruce/Betty?
Basically my feelings on no mention of Betty Ross in the first and second Avengers movies can be summed up in a long and loud fangirl rage.
I don't mind Natasha being captured because of how it was done. It wasn't some 'I am a strong woman until the plot says so' it was 'shit happens'. She was risking everything to get the mission done and it just happened she was captured. In the first Avengers movie Hawkeye was mind-controlled and had to be rescued by Natasha. At the end of Iron Man 3, Tony Stark was rescued by Pepper Potts. So a character being rescued isn't unheard of and it was realistic in how she was captured.
As a Whedonite, he isn't perfect but he has done great things in the way of strong female characters. I like to point out how Zoe (spoiler alert) reacted to Wash's death (who was her husband) by kicking butt instead of crying in Serenity. Buffy (in the tv series Buffy the Vampire Slayer) was able to be just a normal girl that can be girly and yet kick ass. Whedon has even done good with the LGBTQ+ community with the Buffy character of Willow (I'm going to refer to her as a lesbian since after Oz she never has any interest in men again). She started off shy but then really grew for both better and worst.
I think one frustration about the damsel thing happening to Black Widow is that it’s the most played out of superhero movie tropes. For as much as I love the Raimi Spider-Man films every one of the climaxes hinge on Mary Jane Watson getting kidnapped. Iron Man 3 (Which I do not hate) does give Pepper Potts the killing blow to the bad guy but much of the climax for her put her in the damsel role. And most egregious of all in recent memory The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Gwen Stacy for all the progression they try to make with her character being an active role, she pretty much spends the climax with Harry’s Green Goblin as a damsel on a one-way trip to a refrigerator.
In comparison Nat spending a small portion of her screen-time in a damsel role is relatively minor. It still does serve a semi-purpose with getting all the other Avengers to the site of the final battle. Of course she still could have escaped on her own I suppose, though she was one person in an area with hundreds and hundreds of Ultron, might be kind of difficult.
Now as far as ScarJo’s pregnancy is concerned, I could easily see that being a factor limiting her screen time, and obviously there are a few stunt people who would do much of the leg work for her big moments (The motorcycle chase especially). Though I just wonder if there could have been a better way to have worked around that, Iron Man 3 was able to work around injuries Robert Downey Jr. received, without putting him in a damsel role. There could have been another way.
Okay, this might seem like a tangent but I swear I'll be getting to Age of Ultron. Just hang on.
One of the things about women and minorities getting treated equally is that they'll be in danger. And I like when there is danger, physical danger and even death, that there are as many uncertainties of who is going to survive as possible. It just makes it more exciting to me not to know who will get out okay and/or survive.
And whenever a woman or minority gets killed in fiction there is always an outcry as if people can't look at the bigger picture.
When Beth Greene and Noah died in The Walking Dead people reacted like there were no long running members of the cast that were a minority or a woman (so Carol, Michonne, and Glenn don't exist to them?). As well as when Beth died there was a petition that ignored two strong female characters that would be heavily affected by Beth's death.
Bryan Fuller racebent and genderbent (plus changed Margot Vergere's backstory to make her a better representation of the LGBTQ+ community in the series) characters in his Hannibal tv show to provide better diversity in the cast. But when Beverly Katz died suddenly Fuller was the most evil person ever who didn't care about diversity.
So when Black Widow is captured in Age of Ultron I have to step back and look at the situation as a whole. Men have been captured and have had to be rescued. This is the first time Black Widow was in that kind of situation. In the first Avengers movie her first scene she was captured, but it was clearly shown that she was completely in control of her situation then.
And Black Widow being captured isn't because she was weak. It was because she was strong, kicking ass, and willing to risk everything. It just happened that risking everything meant being captured. And a woman being rescued doesn't make her weak.
Plus her being captured and rescued helped her fulfill her storyline of if she really wants to run away. Bruce Banner, the person she had the conversation with, was the one to rescue her and so she finally finished her dialogue about running away with him. Black Widow was being rescued by the one person who wouldn't blame her from running away and she had the chance to. But she decided to stay and fight. A strong, decisive move there.
I have heard a rumor, just a rumor, that Black Widow will be captured in Civil War and that annoys me greatly as if it keeps happening in the movies she's in it gets worn down. She doesn't need to be captured in every movie. Can see be captured? Sure, but not like it's a running gag.
As for ScarJo being pregnant, that's a behind the scenes thing that I don't think affected the movie badly. Thor's useless sub-plot bothered me more, to be honest.
Well at least Joss used his “kill a likable character in everything I do” card on Quicksilver, if it was Widow I think the internet would have blown up in flames. I wouldn’t put much stock on any Civil War rumors until there is more evidence to back up I say.
Now to tackle the most controversial element of Black Widow: The Red Room. As reminded by Scarlet Witch, Nat was trained to be an Assassin stripping her of a lot of things that make humans human, including empathy and part of her “graduation ceremony” sterilizing her so that she wouldn’t be able to have children. She makes this detail known when trying to appeal to Bruce as a reason they should run and be together, since they are fractured souls that can’t have children.
But some people haven’t exactly liked this detail because they read this particular moment as “a woman’s only worth is the ability to have children.” I scratch my head because, does the details leading up to it suddenly not matter if she singles out her not being able to have babies? Being built more as a machine than an actual human being, stripped of a lot of choices to the life they lead, including the choice of whether or not to have a child, is pretty much something to be horrified altogether. It’s not just that she was stripped of having children, it was she was stripped of leading a relatively normal life altogether.
I do understand people being upset that there are characters who only see their own worth on the ability of having children, but I’m not really seeing Nat as that. In fact I find it more insulting that people seem to think being stripped of the choice of having children can’t be a horrifying or traumatic thing for a character like Nat. That the message from that is creating a female character means you cannot have any elements that somebody deems problematic, whether it’d having a love interest or something traumatic that happened in the past or putting the character in a dangerous situation, you’re deemed garbage writer if you have those elements, regardless whether or not they are done well.
I only operate on the belief that there are many controversial plot elements that can be used, but only if they are done well, as opposed for cheap emotional response or shock value.
I was actually just on Twitter with a friend having a conversation about this.
Basically a lot of people are misreading this part of Black Widow. The thing is a lot of people seem to forget why Natasha brings up the whole sterility thing at all. She doesn't say it randomly, but to be a counter-argument to Bruce. Bruce was going on and on about how a romance with them wouldn't work because he's broken and a monster. One of the points Bruce uses to say that he isn't a good romantic partner is because he can't have children (a point he brought up to Natasha in the first film).
Natasha counters with the fact that she can't have children. She talks about how she is also sterile. So when she brought it up she was using it to say that not having children doesn't mean you can't be in love. She's talking about her own sterility to challenge the notion that you need children to be in love.
If anything, the whole sterility thing in this movie is showing Bruce being affected by standards that make no sense.
That’s actually a pretty interesting read on that, if only many random people on the internet can be as nuanced of thought.
So to really sum this up, what can we say of Black Widow in Age of Ultron?
I know. A lot of deep and interesting conversations could be had if people could actually think and not fanrage. Because there have been certain points in certain shows when I wanted to talk about one thing and the majority of the fandom was raging about something else.
Black Widow is still a strong character in Age of Ultron. She doesn't lose anything by being in a relationship with Bruce Banner, heck she 'wears the pants' in that relationship, and a lot of fans are raging about nothing because...that's the internet for you.
Much like Mandarin with Iron Man 3 I feel like this was a bit more of a knee-jerk fandom reaction that honestly has gotten a bit more hate than it’s deserved. Certainly could there are elements that have been better but I feel like too often flawed certain elements of fiction can be blown up more than they should be, that Whedon writing a character this way means it invalidates all that he has written before it, shreds him of his Feminist card.
Now I am not blind, I have heard other criticisms of his work, at a certain point I hear Buffy dips in quality with certain storylines involving its female cast being highly controversial, (though I hear another showrunner might be to blame on that, not certain since I haven’t seen). Then there is Firefly, which I have, where people don’t quite find Malcolm Reynold’s off-hand referrals of Inara as a whore “charming.” And back to Ultron, people did not really like Whedon sneaking in a joke in which when Tony says when he rules Asgard he will reinstate “Prima Nocta” in which a lord is allowed to have sex with a husband’s newly wedded wife, essentially sneaking in a rape joke. I’m still on the fence on that last one.
But essentially I really think there isn’t much of a big deal to be made over Black Widow, it didn’t feel like suddenly she is stripped of her power as a character because of this. I think Whedon just wanted to make her a little less like a character type, make her a little more human. Whether or not he succeeded I feel is an honest debate to have, but not one in which should really warrant torches and pitchforks.
Fandom doing a knee jerk reaction? *fake shock*
The whole Spike raping Buffy thing is not solely on Whedon. Really long story short: someone basically genderbent either their own experience or a experience of a friend and then they came up with that.
You should look into it yourself because it isn't a thing I can easily sum up. As the last time I read about it was a year or two back.
And with Tony's rape joke: Just because a character says something doesn't mean the writer believes it.
I'd need a little more behind the scenes on that one to draw any conclusions.
And, yes, women are people with people problems. It's just people are so used to sexism and such in the media that there tends to be rage whenever something might be off. I've grown used to a minority dying on a show to stay away from social media as the internet always overblows those things. Mind you there are some times when the rage is warranted but that isn't all the time.
What really does warrant hate is… Marvel, Disney… where the hell is all the Black Widow merchandise?
And how about some Black Widow shirts with light colors so I can walk around my home state without dying? Get it because black is a dark color and...I'm only funny to me, aren't I?
I don’t know if I understand that but don’t be ashamed to wear a Black Widow shirt. She needs all the support she can get so that Marvel will actually give a damn about promoting her in merchandise.
Well hopefully they will change their tune when Civil War rolls around, but considering how stubborn they have been so far… I doubt it. And I only fear what they’ll do when Captain Marvel comes out, a Marvel film that actually has a female lead.
In Florida wearing dark clothing is a sign you're either a True Floridian, you have a death wish, or you're a tourist.
And, yeah, hoping Marvel woman's up when Captain Marvel comes onto the big screen. Female leads can work and hopefully the merchandise will be good.
*Still sees torches and pitchforks*
Well, I'm just going to watch the fanrage for now. It was nice working with you again.
Been a pleasure for me as well.
Maybe someday we will finally see fanrage to something that deserves it.
*Sees fanrage over recent events with Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones*
Oh yeah, finally something I can agree on.
Rant to be continued… maybe…