Saturday, May 5, 2012

Avenging Female Superheroes

Hi, I'm Lynn.  I cut my hair like Scarlett Johansson's as Black Widow in The Avengers, and I am an Anomaly.
Warning: This may contain SPOILERS about The Avengers. I try not to, but for some reason, it always happens that way. You have been warned. (This post is dedicated to my team mate, Chuck.)

Black Widow is awesome.

More awesome than Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Superwoman. And definitely more awesome than Catwoman. Why do I say this about my favorite superhero? Is it a love for Marvel over DC? An affinity for skin-tight jumpsuits? An admiration for chicks with guns?


It's because Black Widow is complicated. She has some major issues. Of course, it can be argued that all of those other women are equally complicated, but Natasha Romanoff has always been complicated in all of her origin stories. She spied for the Russians during the Cold War, but she still colluded with the enemy. Then she changed nationalities, loyalties, and lovers, and joined the Avengers, using her skills for the good of all, not just for the good of one government over the other.

Unlike other "super" women, she's been on the outskirts of "womanhood" all her life. While the other female favorites of the comic book world bask in femininity outside of uniform, she has better things to do. Better secrets to discover. She'll be a woman while doing it, but she's not really one to enjoy the party just for the sake of the party.

Natasha has "red on her ledger," but she doesn't apologize for it. She may have regrets, she may be haunted, but she owns up to what she was. She wants to make up for her past, but she never apologizes for it. Her past is what makes her who she is. Just as every woman's is.

The Avengers showed this in all its feminist glory. Now, I am sure that feminist groups may disagree with me. I am sure that social psychologists will tell me that I believe what I'm about to say because of certain cultural "programming" that has been conditioned into me, but I will happily argue with them. Black Widow showed all the trappings of an actual strong woman. She did her job, she even made mistakes at it. She showed fear, but she stood her ground in the midst of it. The best part of her reality though, was with her relationship with Hawkeye/Clint Barton. Her non-romantic relationship with Clint Barton. Her emotionally close, yet still non-romantic relationship with Clint Barton.

Joss Whedon dared to show that a man and a woman can have a past together, can be close, can owe each other their lives, and still not be romantic partners. If Natasha Romanoff was Nikolai Romanoff, the nature of the relationship with Barton would not have been questioned. They would have been brothers by circumstance. But since she IS Natasha, Loki thinks that because she cares for Clint, that it must be love.

The beauty of their relationship is that their intimacy is that of people who save each other from harm, even if the harmful element is themselves. They are a team. They think together, if not always alike. They focus on the same goal, and when the goal is reached, they are satisfied with each others' roles and actions, and, more importantly, with their teamwork. They don't question each other. Their relationship is simple, unlike the other parts of Natasha's life and past. Clint is the only element that's uncomplicated. He's her team. That's better than just a lover.


laserchuck said...

Good point, I liked that aspect too. While I'm not familiar with the avenger comics, I was glad to see that they didn't push the two of them into a romantic relationship. The movie didn't need it, it would have sidetracked the already long film. The assumption that they have to be romantically involved when there is a woman on the team is pretty common these days. It's different with Tony/Pepper, as we have seen them grow and evolve in their relationship.

I love my anomaly, I love my Lynn... more than 12%

laserchuck said...
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