**SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!! YOU WERE WARNED!!**
Apparently in response to a ton of backlash for his portrayal of Black Widow in this weekend’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” director Joss Whedon has disabled his twitter account. Having just finished seeing the film this afternoon, I was slightly perplexed by the massive negative response to a character that I felt was given an immense amount of screen time, insanely cool action sequences, and even a touching romance with Bruce Banner: a relationship that I felt was done very well and made sense given the respective histories of the two characters. Then, after reading some of the criticisms made by fans everywhere, both female and male alike, I began to give Black Widow’s portrayal some more thought.
I think the primary issue that many have with Whedon’s interpretation of the character centers on the history of her “creation.” As a highly trained super-assassin, Widow was subject to some cruel and unusual treatment during her childhood in a secret Soviet Russian training facility. During her graduation from the program, Widow, along with the rest of her facility classmates, were sterilized in order to completely devoid them of any possible distractions from their primary objective: assassinating high profile enemies. Yet, when Widow explains to Banner that she and him are both “monsters,” something very dubious sneaks its way into the portrayal of the character. Due to the proximity of this statement to her self-procolomation as a monster, it seems that Whedon has inadvertently deemed infertile women as sub-human. Although I do not think this was his intention, I can see how this plot point can stir up some significant controversy around the character.
A collection of the backlash from some fans towards Whedon
Similarly, although Whedon includes Widow in a lot of the major moments throughout the film, a few of the humorous moments between her and some of the male members of The Avengers — specifically Tony Stark — caused me to scratch my head on further reflection. Known for his cutting wit, Whedon really lets his comedic chops shine in his newest film. Yet, when it comes to handling Widow’s funny moments, Whedon turns to largely sexual jokes (at one point in the film, Stark wonders where Widow has gone and jokingly hopes that she isn’t playing “hide the zucchini” with Banner somewhere). Although highly sexual jokes with Widow are few and far between, it’s moments like these that work to weaken an otherwise powerful female character, one that can hang tough with a God, a genetically enhanced super soldier, and a hulking rage monster. Again, I think that Whedon wished to tap into Stark’s personality as an egotistical, misogynistic sociopath during his quips towards Widow, but I can definitely understand the underlying issue with his remarks.
I honestly feel sorry for Whedon at this point. As we know, twitter is a dangerous forum for productive discussion with any polarizing issues and seeing thousands of fans peg a man as a “master of misogyny” is a sad sight to behold. I thought Black Widow was done justice in many respects that echo her badassery in the comic book canon, allowing her to kick henchmen ass from start to finish. If anyone else has seen the film, let me know what you think of Black Widow in the comments!