Natasha Romanova deserves your respect (*massive* Avengers Assemble spoilers)

Just a quick one -

Roger Ebert, the respected Chicago Sun-Times film critic, tweeted a link to this comic last night.

You will be unsurprised to hear that this irks me on a variety of levels.

Before anyone says it: yes, it’s probably a joke. It’s not a very funny joke, but it is probably a joke. And I wouldn’t care, except that nerdery is already not a very accommodating field in which to be a woman, and this comic shows some of the reasons why.

If the cartoon is to be read as written, it’s incredibly misogynistic. It doesn’t matter that Natasha/Black Widow is an important part of the Avengers film, and a full member of the team. It doesn’t matter that she can outsmart Loki Lyesmith, save Hawkeye, and eventually close the tesseract portal. It doesn’t matter that she lays out a torturer and his goons with her hands tied behind her back. Who cares! She’s got tits!

If this cartoon is sarcastic, it misses its mark, because this is the main reaction that  many men will have anyway – and it’s a shame. As a feminist who’s seen more superhero movies than she would’ve chosen to, I was massively impressed with the treatment of Black Widow in The Avengers Assemble. She wears flat boots for fighting, not impractical stiletto heels. She doesn’t get shoehorned into unnecessary romantic subplots. She talks Bruce Banner into joining the team and she manipulates Loki in his captivity. She survives Banner turning into The Hulk in a confined space with her, and figures out how to break Loki’s control of Barton. There’s no stopping to deal with Stereotypical Female Feelings or Sterotypical Female Appearance Worries – in fact, I don’t think her appearance is mentioned once (as my memory serves).

Black Widow is a woman of action, of kicking ass and taking names, and portraying her as only necessary for her sexual appeal is a damn shame.

And as for not having superpowers – Barton/Hawkeye has no powers, just skills, also. Where’s the suggestion that he’s only there to be a pretty face?

Thank you to my good friend and infinitely more knowledgeable comics geek Wayne for preliminary nerd-picking and answering my questions about this last night. He should really update FlashInk more.

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