did Namor just deflect the Beast with the power of his perfect abs
If you feel like playing film critic misogyny bingo when America’s first round of Winter Soldier reviews are published this week, I recommend looking out for the phrases “leather-clad” and “ass-kicker.” These are an easy way to weed out any reviewers who weren’t paying attention to the movie, because neither phrase describes Black Widow’s actual role.
For one thing, Black Widow is not “leather-clad.” Not unless you’re talking about the casual leather jacket she wears in a handful of scenes, anyway. Her official uniform is no tighter than Captain America’s was in The Avengers, and is similar to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s artificial fabric jumpsuits. By comparison, the Winter Soldier’s signature look involves leather body armor, ’90s grunge hair, smudged eyeliner, and a black rubber mask.
Spider-Man’s spandex costume is probably more salacious, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t wind up being described as an homme fatale by anyone with a Pulitzer.
Honestly, this kind of catsuit-focused review says more about the reviewer than the film itself. Apparently the mere concept of Scarlett Johansson in a tight outfit is so dazzlingly erotic that it bypasses some male reviewers’ conscious minds and causes them to ignore everything she says and does for the rest of the movie. The result is a series of reviews from highly respected film critics who, given the opportunity to describe each Avenger in a single sentence, replace Black Widow’s summary with the announcement, “I AM A HETEROSEXUAL MAN AND SCARLETT JOHANSSON’S BOOBS ARE AWESOME.”
This unrelenting focus on Scarlett Johansson’s appearance, coupled with the assumption that her only non-decorative role is that of an “ass-kicker,” indicates a fundamental inability to see Black Widow as the well-rounded character she actually is.
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, “Every review of Black Widow in ‘Captain America’ is wrong”
the new Guardians of the Galaxy still looks amazing
A friend and I were out with our kids when another family’s two-year-old came up. She began hugging my friend’s 18-month-old, following her around and smiling at her. My friend’s little girl looked like she wasn’t so sure she liked this, and at that moment the other little girl’s mom came up and got down on her little girl’s level to talk to her.
“Honey, can you listen to me for a moment? I’m glad you’ve found a new friend, but you need to make sure to look at her face to see if she likes it when you hug her. And if she doesn’t like it, you need to give her space. Okay?”
Two years old, and already her mother was teaching her about consent.
My daughter Sally likes to color on herself with markers. I tell her it’s her body, so it’s her choice. Sometimes she writes her name, sometimes she draws flowers or patterns. The other day I heard her talking to her brother, a marker in her hand.
“Bobby, do you mind if I color on your leg?”
Bobby smiled and moved himself closer to his sister. She began drawing a pattern on his leg with a marker while he watched, fascinated. Later, she began coloring on the sole of his foot. After each stoke, he pulled his foot back, laughing. I looked over to see what was causing the commotion, and Sally turned to me.
“He doesn’t mind if I do this,” she explained, “he is only moving his foot because it tickles. He thinks its funny.” And she was right. Already Bobby had extended his foot to her again, smiling as he did so.
What I find really fascinating about these two anecdotes is that they both deal with the consent of children not yet old enough to communicate verbally. In both stories, the older child must read the consent of the younger child through nonverbal cues. And even then, consent is not this ambiguous thing that is difficult to understand.
Teaching consent is ongoing, but it starts when children are very young. It involves both teaching children to pay attention to and respect others’ consent (or lack thereof) and teaching children that they should expect their own bodies and their own space to be respected—even by their parents and other relatives.
And if children of two or four can be expected to read the nonverbal cues and expressions of children not yet old enough to talk in order to assess whether there is consent, what excuse do full grown adults have?
Captain America: The Winter Soldier Proves Black Widow’s Ready To Go Solo - Brett White runs through all the reasons why the Avengers’ super spy is more than ready for her own big screen adventure.
I’m basically preaching to the choir here - but Brett White’s analysis of how damn ready the Black Widow is for a solo movie is right on point.
Astonishing X-Men #62 (2013)
One of the very few ~spoilers I heard before I saw this movie was that in terms of storytelling tropes, Sam Wilson’s role was very similar to that of a love interest. And you know what? It totally was.
Right from Sam’s introduction at the beginning of the movie, he’s instantly characterised as an appealing and fundamentally ~good character. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to describe that park scene as a “meet cute,” with Steve being so drawn to Sam that he has to befriend him, and Sam being so open and receptive that he invites Steve to come visit him where he works. On their second meeting, Steve is impressed by Sam’s work as a counsellor for military veterans, and Sam and Steve almost immediately open up to each other about intensely personal aspects of their life: the death of Sam’s best friend, and Steve’s uncertainty about his life in the 21st century. This exchange has such an impact on both of them that Steve feels able to show up on Sam’s doorstep as a fugitive, and Sam is willing to risk his life to fight alongside him. The film ends with the implication that Sam is going to quit his job to go help Steve track down the Winter Soldier.
According to the Guardian’s early review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it’s the first time Black Widow has got to be an “actual character” rather than a “voluptuous female mascot.” Unfortunately, chief Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw’s follow-up was a little less sure of this, with Black Widow then being described as a “leather-clad… ass-kicking ex-Soviet adventuress whose auburn hairstyle is matched by her distinctive fake tan-type maquillage and restrained ochre lipstick.”
I’m glad he told us about her makeup routine, because otherwise that description would teach us next to nothing about her character.
In the Independent, Black Widow is a “sultry femme fatale,” although the Telegraph gives her the inaccurate but far more positive rating of “the most (the first?) complex female role in the Avengers franchise to date.”
Just for kicks, I took a look at the top reviews for The Avengers, to see what America’s most acclaimed and respected cinema critics thought of Black Widow back in 2012. Bear in mind that most of these quotes are the only description of Scarlett Johansson’s performance in the entire review.
In the New Yorker, Anthony Lane wrote, “not to be left out, Black Widow repels invading aliens through the sheer force of her corsetry,” while the Wall Street Journal’s Pulitzer-winning Joe Morgenstern complained, “Black Widow spends lots of time looking puzzled or confused.” New York Times reviewer A.O. Scott referenced the 1960s British spy series The Avengers (no relation), writing, “those poor souls who cherish old daydreams of Diana Rigg in leather will have to console themselves with images of Scarlett Johansson in a black bodysuit.”