The Strengths of Black Widow
As the world gears up for next year’s Avengers: Infinity War , there’s plenty of time to sit back and revisit other movies in the Marvel Universe, ones that include characters who’ll find their ways onto the big screen for the 2018 premiere. Some of those characters have been fortunate enough to be the title-mention of a movie or two (or three), like Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. Even Bucky Barnes has a name-mention in Captain America: The Winter Soldier from 2014. But other characters have only gained title credit throuh their group affiliations. There’s no Groot movie, for instance, though something that’s a bigger disappointment is the lack of a Black Widow movie.
Although you might have heard this complaint before, it merits re-mentioning. The cinematic world could use a script that’s centered around Natasha Romanoff, and the primary reason comes down to one simple notion: She is, in fact, one of the greatest Marvel characters to ever be represented in a comic book, television show, or movie.
Since there’s currently no Black Widow movie, it stands to reason that someone in the filmmaking world needs to be convinced of her great-Marvel-character quality. Fortunately for the task, this Avenger comes with a number of awesome traits that provide plenty of support for the claim!
She doesn’t have a superpower, but she can still hold her own on a battlefield. Let’s take a moment to consider the six superheroes who are showcased in the 2012 Avengers movie. First, you have Iron Man who wears a technologically advanced suit that allows him to fly and can launch weaponry. Captain America is a super soldier who was given a serum back in the 1940s and has become strong enough to hold onto a helicopter to keep it from flying away. Thor is an Asgardian who can control lightning. The Hulk becomes a green, super strong creature who can fling a non-Thor Asgardian around like a rag doll. And then there are Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton—Black Widow and Hawkeye—who don’t really have much in the way of superhuman qualities to assist them in battle. Regardless, they fight alongside the bigger-than-life heroes, and they don’t do too bad of a job at it!
If no other detail about Black Widow showcases how awesome her character is, it’s this one detail. She isn’t superhuman, and there’s no Asgardian blood, super serum, or genetically-altering radiation within her. She’s just a person who is so capable and deadly that she can fight beside the likes of Thor and the Hulk without looking any less dangerous or capable. Sure, you can say something similar about Barton, but we’re focused on Romanoff! Besides, her fighting moves can be so unique that it’s impossible to predict what her next move will be, and she has crazy awesome spy-like weapons at her disposable. Fantastic!
She keeps a level head. Think back through the Marvel movies that have hit the theaters, and try to come up with one instance of Romanoff panicking or losing her cool. Can you think of one? That’s yet another awesome quality of Black Widow because she can be attacked, conflicted, sad, or pressured, and she manages to keep her emotions and actions together. She doesn’t stand up and scream while discussing Hydra in court. She calmly, but firmly, states her case and leaves. She doesn’t rant and rave at her fellow heroes when the Sokovia Accords are being discussed. She barely even flinches when Team Iron Man and Team Cap go head-to-head in Captain America: Civil War. She just deals with what’s happening and moves on.
In a world where emotions and reacting can lead to serious consequences—think about what happens when Bruce gets mad or when Tony finds out that the Winter Soldier killed his parents—she’s the steady, strong person who’s keeping her thoughts in order and acting according to her principles and ideas. That kind of mental strength is hard to come by, and it affords her the opportunities to see to particular tasks that she shines at beyond fighting—like computer hacking and general spy-ish matters. If she couldn’t keep her cool, she wouldn’t be as effective with these responsibilities, and that would be a definite loss to the Avengers!
She seems distant, but she’s really loyal. That levelheaded quality can make it seem like she’s careless and indifferent, but the opposite is clearly true during the Marvel movies. She’s loyal to Clint to a fault, and that comradery is so reciprocated on his part that she’s the only Avenger to not only know about Clint’s family, but to be so close to that family that she’s happily greeted by his child. In addition, she’s the one person who can get through to Bruce when he goes into Hulk mode, and she’s so committed to standing by Cap that she’s at Peggy Carter’s funeral and temporarily disables T’Challa so Cap can see to his plans during the airport battle.
This loyalty is clear in the aftermath of that airport battle as well. She’s vocal about wanting to end the division in the team in the wake of the conflict since she believes that things will only get worse for the group if the division continues. She even goes toe-to-toe with Tony about that stance, and she doesn’t back down from that idea. In fact, the unity of the group is a priority for her early on in the Sokovia Accords controversy, and she says as much to Steve after Peggy’s funeral when she insists their unity needs to be the top priority above a yes or no answer on the Accords. Not only is she a strong woman then, she’s also a dedicated friend.
She’s smart enough to toe the company line. Sometimes, the best thing you can do to find success is to wait for your moment to make something happen. Black Widow has mastered this art, and that’s evident in her decision to allow Steve and Bucky to escape from the airport in Captain America: Civil War . She fights with Tony’s team and tends to her responsibilities in regard to the Accords, but she then takes the literal translation of those responsibilities by not detaining the WWII veterans. Anything short of what she does could have been disastrous for her, but nothing more—by that literal translation—is required.
This quality leads to yet another reason why Black Widow shines as an awesome superhero: She knows how to work her way through the political world, which is good rationale for why she’s there when T’Challa’s father dies and is the Avenger who’s addressed in court after the fall of Hydra. She’s a leader not only because she can fight on a battlefield, but because she can stay standing in the political arena as well.
She admits her faults, but doesn’t let them take her down. There’s no denying that Romanoff has a shady past, and her roots in the darker side of things follow her around even though she’s now saving the world. Times when those dark moments surface include her heart-to-heart with Hulk about how she, too, is a less-than-ideal person in their group and her chat with Steve in the wake of the SHIELD compromise. Her past is a burden for her, one that bothers her, but you’d never know that she has those kinds of weaknesses by watching her take on enemies. Rather, it can be argued that she treats those inner demons as enemies of themselves—fighting, but keeping her thoughts focused, and never, never giving up the fight.
When you have that kind of story of overcoming a rocky past and mistakes, but you can still hold your head high and decide to be a better person, that’s admirable. That’s strength. And that’s one of the key components of Natasha Romanoff that make her such a standout character.
Should you put these pieces of the puzzle together, it’s obvious that Romanoff is one amazing Marvel character who has a heart that’s big enough to be loyal in spite of a harsh past—and abilities that make her someone you don’t want to mess with even though she’s lacking the superhuman traits of her fellow Avengers. There’s no sensible way to deny that she’s awesome, so Hollywood, give her a movie!