I DON’T LIKE BLACK WIDOW.
Sorry. I just don’t like her that much. And she shouldn’t have a big role in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
I especially don’t enjoy Joss Whedon’s self aggrandizing “we need a strong female character!” rhetoric that he used to inflate Widow’s role in the first Avengers. Listen, I agree, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes looks a bit too much like Earth’s Whitest/Angloest/Malest Sausage Party, but that’s part of its architecture. The original Avengers were, if nothing else, fantasy fare for adolescent American boys. Boys who lived in the 1960’s, no less. Hell, the very Jewish McJewerson creators of these heroes couldn’t even allow the characters to reflect their own semitic culture, and thus created an entire landscape of vanilla vigilantes. Those generic roots are very much central to the characters and their identities. And its that context, and those origins, which Marvel Studios have adapted for the big screen. If Marvel cast Captain America as a lady soldier, Hulk as an Afro-Cuban scientist, Iron Man as a… well, you get the idea… I would’ve had no problem with it. This would’ve been the canon of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it would’ve solved their diversity problem.
But they didn’t do that.
They created Marvel Phase 1 with 4 big male vanilla heroes in mind: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk. Each of those Big 4 received their own film, all in preparation for The Avengers. The entire spectacle of that team-up flick was based in the unprecedented crossover of 4 massive franchises. Not since the Universal Monsters years had a studio intertwined massive characters in a single cinematic narrative, and even then, no one’s ever achieved anything as cohesive as Marvel’s. So EXCUSE ME for wanting to focus on the interaction between those marquis characters, and not a supporting one like Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow.
Thor. Hulk. Captain America. Iron Man. I ran to the theatres to watch The Avengers opening day because of those four characters. And I felt absolutely slighted that Black Widow received more screentime than Hulk and Thor. Hell, for a second tier character, she received nearly 3 times as much screen time as her male compliment Hawkeye.
Joss Whedon basically said “Too many penises! There are far too many penises in this flick! Since I’m so hip, and a feminist, I’m going to elevate Black Widow’s importance. Yeah! That’ll do it.”
Which I completely understand. There ARE too many lead penises in the Avengers. But that’s the way Marvel designed their universe. My complaints aren’t based in “Female character bad. Male character cool”. If Allison Brie was cast as Captain America (and she actually would’ve created a badass Captain America, as the picture above suggests) then she absolutely should’ve received the most screentime. And if Chris Evans was cast as Black Widow (he would’ve made a HORRIBLE Widow) he should’ve received the least screentime. Again, the cool part about The Avengers is watching these standalone heroes from their own successful films team-up in one massive blockbuster.
If Joss Whedon wants more lead female characters in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, then he should petition Marvel Studios to create a Captain Marvel movie, Spider Woman movie, or a Rescue flick (Pepper Potts in the Iron Man armor). Hell, Black Widow looks to get a fair shake in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where she plays the female lead. A very organic decision, as well, since Chris Evan’s Captain America works so closely with SHIELD during that phase of his career, and Widow is his natural foil.
I get Whedon’s point. I really do. But by artificially increasing Black Widow’s importance in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, he’s just diluting the strength of the movie, not improving the narrative. Especially since Black Widow’s meant to represent all women as one superhero. It’s ambitious, faulty, and it drags down the spectacle.