Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Black Widow

An essay on Age of Ultron.

I didn't like either of the Avengers movies, and the essay here nails the problem, as I see it: too many characters, too much action. However I just finished writing an essay about Guardians, which I like a lot; and I enjoy all the Marvel movies, even the ones I don't really like. Something is going on with them. I think it's the combination of action, humor and something else -- morality? Enough complexity to keep me interested? The weird over-the-top characters? I don't respond the same way to DC movies or the Marvel character movies not done by Marvel.

The humor is not only the jokes, but also the playing against superhero cliches. As Lyda Morehouse remarked, all the Avengers in Age of Ultron talk about being monsters -- except Tony Stark, who is a monster, the superhero as sociopath. Stark really plays against the Superman or Captain America trope.

Many of the objections in this essay are because the writer doesn't get things. She doesn't know about the Odinsleep, which is part of Marvel's backstory for Thor, and dismisses it as stupid. She doesn't catch the fact that Cap's dislike of rough language, and the jokes made about this, are (a) a joke and (b) a sign that Cap really is 75 years out of his time.

This brings me to the Black Widow. It's possible that Joss Whedon actually believes that women who can't have children are monsters, or actually believes Natasha thinks this. However, there is another way to look at this scene and line.

Natasha and Bruce are in Hawkeye's safe house -- his home, where his wife and children live. It's a very domestic, familial place. Natasha is interested in Bruce, and Bruce is getting tense, which is never good. When he gets upset, he turns into the Hulk, who is rage incarnate.

Bruce says he can't have children. He's a monster. (I didn't catch this line, but Lyda Morehouse said it was there.) Obviously, it would not be safe to have kids and the Hulk in the same house. It's also possible that Bruce means he's sterile, because it was radiation that turned him into the Hulk. In any case, he's very aware -- in this family home -- that he can't have a family.

Natasha tells him that she has been sterilized, and that she is a monster too. So what does she mean? That a sterile woman is a monster or that (a) she is like Bruce and (b) they don't have to worry about having children and (c) she also is a monster. She is a monster, a woman trained from childhood to murder people and very aware of way too much blood in her past. She also must be aware that Bruce needs calming down.

Anyway, I tend to see two separate statements, rather than a "if a, then b." One of the movie's problems is, it's very fast moving and character development, such as there is, happens in snippets.


Blogger Therem said...

For what it's worth, here is the actual dialogue from the scene:

Banner: "Natasha... where can I go? Where in the world am I not a threat?"

Romanoff: "You're not a threat to me."

Banner: "You're sure? Even if I didn't just.... [trails off] ... there's no future with me. I can't ever... I can't have this. [gestures at children's stuff] Kids... do the math, I physically can't."

Romanoff: "Neither can I. In the Red Room, where I was... trained, where I was raised, we had a graduation ceremony. They sterilize you. It's efficient. One less thing to worry about. The one thing that might matter more than a mission. It makes everything easier. Even killing. You still think you're the only monster on the team?"

So I agree with you, it's not as simple as Natasha thinking she's a monster because she is sterile. She talks about it because Bruce brought it up first, but at the most basic level, she is trying to reassure him rather than saying "being unable to have children is bad".

8:04 PM  

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