Tuesday, May 8, 2012

111 Girls Who Kick Ass, Number 7: Natasha Romanov

Before we get started, two quick things:

1. Yes, as a matter of fact, I do realize that a zillion and four other comic book geeks are probably tearing up the Interweb with their analyses and dissections of The Avengers this week. But you know what? BITE ME.

2. There are, believe it or not, an awful lot of girls on this list who are not comic book characters. I'll, um . . . start getting to them some other day.

Okay, full disclosure: Despite being one of the most unabashedly unashamed comic book geeks I know, I have never been a very huge fan of the Avengers. I mean, I admire them and respect them in the same way I admire and respect any other superhero team that's been around for almost fifty years, but I don't care about the characters the way I care about the X-Men or the Runaways. I just never have, you know?

Having made that clear, it may not be a surprise that I've never seen any of the movies that led up to this one. I'm not opposed to seeing them, and probably will someday, but right now I can't say I feel like I'm missing anything. Frankly, I wasn't even particularly excited about this movie until I found out about one element.

Obviously, that element was Joss Whedon.

If there's one person in the history of ever who can really make me care about Captain America or Iron Man or Thor or the Hulk or Hawkeye, it's him.

And I knew, just knew, he'd make Black Widow awesome. Sure, she might be the only woman on the team, but she would absolutely not be "the girl."

I was not disappointed.

For one thing, in her first scene she faces off against three arms dealers. They have tied her to a chair. Not only does she knock them all out, not only does she escape from the chair, she USES THE CHAIR AS A WEAPON (before escaping from it).

For another thing, if any other director had helmed this movie, you might expect there to be at least one moment where one of her teammates is genuinely surprised to learn that she kicks as much ass as the boys. That does not happen.

(Personally, I find it very interesting that she's the best fighter on the team. I'll say that again: She is the best fighter on the team. I mean, think about it. Iron Man has basically zero skill in hand-to-hand combat, since he really doesn't, you know, need it, what with having superstrength. Ditto for Thor and Hulk. Captain America does have military training, but she has much more experience than he does. And as for Hawkeye . . . well.)

For another other thing, when you get to the big fight at the end, you might expect her to be assigned to crowd control while the heavy hitters deal with the aliens. This does not happen, either. She plays a key part in defeating the aliens and, you know, saving the entire world from utter destruction.

For yet another thing, her scene with Loki blew my mind a little bit.

Finally . . .

Look, I don't know. Love him or hate him, Joss Whedon has always been very vocal about how and why he's a feminist. Everything he's ever done has featured at least one scene where a girl kicks ass (even if she's not a Slayer or a witch or a soldier or Kitty Pryde). I'm not saying my idea to write this list is entirely his fault, but he certainly had a lot to do with it.

Once upon a time, a reporter asked him, "So why do you write these strong female characters?"

And he replied, "Because you're still asking me that question."

Someday, if we keep putting women in superhero movies --- as superheroes themselves, not as love interests --- and letting them kick ass, maybe people will stop asking.

Because it'll just be the norm.

P.S. To the Morons Sitting Behind Me in the Theater Who Thought You Knew a Little Bit About Comics Because You've Seen Every Marvel Movie Ever Made:

That guy in the post-credits scene was definitely not Galactus.

No Love,

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