As soon as I saw Black Widow last summer I felt this thought wiggling around in my brain. Is it…? Could it be…? Is…is Black Widow now my favorite Marvel movie?! Because I’m me, I certainly couldn’t say definitively. First, I’m not the type of person who can throw a term like “favorite” around lightly. To say I like or love something is one thing. But to say it’s “my favorite” or “the best” or “the greatest” of all-time? That requires a lot of thoughtful discernment for me. Second, there’s this odd reaction/habit within our culture, especially within our fandom cultures, where whatever is newest is automatically the best. It’s new! It’s shiny! It’s the best ever!!! So, while that’s never been me, I wanted to be sure I wasn’t having that sort of reaction when I first saw Black Widow on July 8th. I said I loved it. I said it was easily one of the best films the MCU has to offer. And I said it may be my all-time favorite movie within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Still, I needed time before I could say that with any certainty. Now I know. Black Widow is the best Marvel movie of all-time! And here’s why…
I’ve seen Black Widow! Well, I guess a better way to put it is I keep seeing Black Widow ;). It holds a special place in my heart. Black Widow marks the return of two long running traditions. My first showing on July 8th was the return of a Marvel movie opening night AND the return of seeing a movie after dinner on my birthday! The latter is something I’ve done since high school but was naturally on hiatus last year as our local Covid lockdowns were in full force. It felt so good to be back. Each time I’ve seen it since, I’ve noticed how comforting it feels to be in a darkened theatre again and hear those pages flip as the Marvel logo appears on screen. Black Widow is special for many reasons beyond my own traditions, too. Scarlett Johansson FINALLY has her own solo film as Natasha Romanoff, a character she debuted in 2010’s Iron Man 2. Yay! And what a film it is. It’s magnificent, one of the best within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Black Widow is the film Natasha (and Scarlett Johansson!) has always deserved. I’d argue Natasha, more than any other character, best personifies the most important recurring message in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and this film illustrates all she is brilliantly.
I DID IT. I DID IT. It took me three years but I read over 300 comics and have successfully walked through all fifty-seven years of Black Widow’s comic history! Natasha Romanoff has gone from a character I was familiar with from Avengers comics and team-up stories to one of the comic characters I know best of all. I AM SO HAPPY I DID THIS! Now, with a month left until Black Widow finally hits theatres, I’m examining the stories marking Natasha’s journeys from 2010-2020. As usual, kudos goes to Kiri (of Star Wars Anonymous) for casually asking if Black Widow was ever blonde in the comics (she was! see ’00-’10) waaay back when the Avengers: Infinity War trailer came out and kudos to my over-committing parts for deciding to read everything from Natasha’s first appearance in Tales of Suspense #52 (1964) up through Web of Black Widow (2019-20) instead of just googling it.
On the heels of the first trailer for Avengers: Infinity War, a conversation with Kiri (of Star Wars Anonymous) about whether or not Black Widow had ever been blonde in the comics showed me how shamefully few of her comics I’d read. Naturally, I took the next logical step – I waaaay overcommitted and have spent over two years now figuring out a reading list, finding the titles, and then reading my way through decades of Black Widow stories. Three months back, I wrote a piece looking at Natasha’s most important appearances in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Now it’s time to dive into the ‘80s and ‘90s as I continue my little journey through her comic book history, from Natasha’s first appearance in Tales of Suspense #52 (1964) to her most recent miniseries, The Web of Black Widow (2019-20). Continue reading
Before Avengers: Infinity War came out I was having a conversation with Kiri (of Star Wars Anonymous). We were discussing several aspects of the trailer, including Black Widow being blonde. Was it because Cap and his band of Avengers were undercover and off the grid? Was it because, as their time in the MCU was coming to a close, Scarlett Johansson got to be a blonde Black Widow as Chris Evans got to be a bearded Captain America, more closely resembling their real life looks? Kiri said she didn’t remember ever reading a blonde Black Widow in the comics when she was a kid. Nor did I. During the conversation I realized the number of comics starring Natasha Romanoff – the Black Widow – I had read was shamefully small. One thing led to another and, as usual, I overcommitted. What follows is the first part of a little journey through Natasha’s comic book history, from her first appearance in Tales of Suspense #52 (1964) to her most recent miniseries, The Web of Black Widow (2019-20). Continue reading
In a recent post about the first teaser trailer for Black Widow, I discussed my excitement for the film while pointing out the criticism Marvel received almost as soon as the trailer premiered for fat shaming again. In addition to all the (fair and deserving) praise Avengers: Endgame received, it also received some (fair and deserving) criticism for fat shaming in their presentation of Thor. The trailer for Black Widow does the same with the character of Red Guardian. A comment left on that post led to the idea for this one. While putting together my reply, I decided it warranted its own post. I write often of the intersection of comic books and social justice issues on this site so it’s not just natural but important I address this because fat shaming, or weightism, is a justice issue. It’s also one, sadly, many people in our culture don’t understand or, worse, don’t even acknowledge as an issue at all. Thankfully that’s starting to change and now seems like an opportune time to add my voice to that chorus. Continue reading
I wasn’t planning on writing tonight. But two things changed my mind. First, this was my first day back to work after Thanksgiving break and that means my body still isn’t back to its “work sleep schedule.” Last night I tried to go to bed early which translated into me laying in bed staring at the ceiling wishing I could fall asleep for like two hours. Second, and faaaaaaaar more influential here, WE GOT OUR FIRST TEASER TRAILER FOR BLACK WIDOW TODAY!!!!!!! That’s right, after eleven looooong years of Marvel cinematic magic, Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff is finally, finally, finally, FINALLY getting her own solo movie AND WE GOT OUT FIRST LOOK AT IT TODAY!! AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!! So yeah, if I’m not going to bed on time anyway, I might as well talk about how excited I am for this. Continue reading
A month or so ago Jeff alerted me to the exciting reality that Barnes & Noble (at least the one by him) had the hardcover editions of BOTH Margaret Stohl’s Black Widow novels – Black Widow: Forever Red and Black Widow: Red Vengeance – in their bargain section. A hurried trip to and quick investigation of my local Barnes & Noble yielded the same prize! I love Margaret Stohl’s work on the Captain Marvel series. I love Black Widow as a character. So, naturally, they both came home with me. Given all the grading that comes with the end of the school year, I didn’t have the chance to read either until now. I finished the first novel, Black Widow: Forever Red, the other day and I enjoyed a great deal of it…but it also highlighted one of the problems I find at times with YA novels in general. And this, I felt, warranted a little reflection. Continue reading
In 2010, Scarlett Johansson brought Natasha Romanoff – the Russian assassin turned S.H.I.E.L.D. super spy turned Avenger, the Black Widow – to life in Iron Man 2. Since then, she’s appeared in seven different Marvel movies, more than any other Avenger save Iron Man (nine) and Captain America (eight (and the only reason Cap beats her is because he has cameos in TWO films)). In addition to screen time, I would also argue the Black Widow is more important to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole, story-wise, than any other Avenger save Tony or Cap. Despite that, we still have yet to see a Black Widow solo movie. Yet, as one of the MCU’s richest creations, she’s worthy of serious acclaim. This piece has been rolling around in my head for some time. Given Avengers: Infinity War’s release this week has me looking back, getting nostalgic over, and celebrating the MCU, it seemed like the perfect time to finally write it. Continue reading