SPOILERS FOLLOW BEYOND THIS POINT!
When Scarlett Johansson was introduced as Black Widow in Iron Man 2, it seemed like she was simply there for sex appeal, and to set up future movies down the line. Johansson did not fit the role in her debut, and she felt out of place and the way the camera followed and captured her felt uncomfortable. For instance, what was the point of getting that close up of her chest and face when she was getting into the ring with Tony, other than to show how sexy she was? There is nothing wrong with that, but when your playing a spy whose supposed to be one of the best in their field, then you should also act and feel like your qualified to carry those credentials. In Iron Man 2, it felt like she was out of place and did not belong in that role.
Moving onto The Avengers, Johansson truly grew into the role and as the viewer, we actually believed that she could be this super bad ass spy. Whedon did a fantastic job at giving us insight into her character, and developing her enough to have us relate to her without giving away too much of her character. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it was more of the same with Johansson in a more supporting role. But here's the thing, it didn't feel like a supporting role. Johansson, and the character of Black Widow in general, had such a strong presence in Winter Soldier that she had fans clamoring for a stand alone Black Widow film.
And then we get to [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035), and can only wonder what went wrong, and how she was reduced back down to her Iron Man 2 role. No, in fact, her role and place in Age of Ultron felt worse than it did back in Iron Man 2, because at least in iron Man 2 she had a purpose and reason for existing in that film. I wish I could say the same for her role in Age of Ultron, but it would not be true.
The problem with the Black Widow character in this film was that her story, and her character arc in general, felt useless and pointless. If we took the character out of the film completely, it probably would have been a better film. Her sole purpose in this film seemed to be to calm the Hulk down when he hulked out, to fall in love with Banner (I'll get to that later) and to be captured by Ultron (this capture also lead nowhere). If you could tell me why she deserved to be in this film, then I'll be impressed since, after two viewing of the film, I couldn't figure it out.
Now, let's get to the most awkward love story since Twilight (ya, I went there). The relationship itself is not what was bothersome, but Widow's role was diminished to trying to make this relationship work. That was the purpose of her character's existence in this film, and after strong outings in The Winter Soldier and Avengers, it was disappointing to see her in this role, to say the least. The love story itself felt awkward, forced, and unnecessary and in the end, left the audience cringing at the terrible dialogue and awkward delivery of the lines. This felt like a romance that belonged on a CW TV show, except I don't think The CW would even except it.
There is a line that Widow said, in the midst of trying to make this relationship work, and this line has caused a bit of controversy. When Banner and Natasha are talking, trying to get closer emotionally or something, Natasha says "You're not the only monster on the team" in reference to her inability to have kids. This scene, according to certain people, asserts the idea that women who can't have kids are monsters, when that is not the case.
It fits Natasha, as a character, to mutter a line like that, and she wasn't just referring to her inability to reproduce, but everything she went through as a kid, and all of her training, trials and tribulations. That is what she was referring to. However, I do have a problem with the way Banner responded, because he didn't. he simply accepted what she said, as if it was fact, and in turn expected the audience to accept it as well. The scene in general was painful to watch and felt rushed, and that part of the conversation truly felt insulting, to an extent. We have one character refer to herself as a monster for her inability to reproduce, and another character simply accepts it as fact, asking us to do the same thing.
Now, back to the romance in general. It felt like Natasha's main purpose in this film was to hook up with Bruce. That's it. Everything she did and what she said served that purpose. Again, when you take a character as strong as Black Widow, who proved she was strong in previous films, and reduce her to a love interest, then that in itself creates a problem. Black Widow is allowed to have a love interest, and nobody is arguing that she isn't, but that lover interest should not be her only goal and the main focus of her character arc.
Now, time to discuss one of the other main issues with Widow's character, and that is that she was reduced to the damsel in distress, again, being reduced from a strong female protagonist to weak. And again, just like her having a love interest was not the main problem with that arc, her getting captured was not the issue with this aspect of the film. The problem with her getting captured and jailed by Ultron was that it served absolutely no purpose to the story whatsoever, and it feels like the only reason she was taken by Ultron was so she could be saved by Bruce later. Black Widow has been established as too much of a bad ass to have her role reduced to something so demeaning and pointless.
Again, the problem does not lie with her being captured by Ultron, but rather by the sheer pointlessness of that whole sequence and plot point. She was literally only captured so Bruce could save her a couple of scenes later. Also, staying with that scene where Bruce rescues Widow, anyone else find it strange that Bruce simply walked in and got her, with no resistance what so ever? He simply walked in and got her. That was it. Like I mentioned, her capture and rescue served absolutely no purpose whatsoever except for Bruce to save her.
In the end, Black Widow was a useless character that added nothing to the team as a whole. She had a couple cool action sequences but that's about all that was redeeming about her. When lookg at this film and the disappointment with Widow as a character, we must look at Joss Whedon as the director and the direction that he wanted to take her in. Even if Marvel Studios wanted Widow to develop a relationship with the Hulk, Whedon could have gone in a better. less cringe-worthy direction.
Avengers: Age of Ultron was filled with a slew of problems which held it back from being a good movie, and Joss Whedon's inability to handle a character like Black Widow, and her diminished and inconsequential role in the team was a disappointment, to say the least. Hopefully, moving forward, Kevin Feige and the brain trust of filmmakers at Marvel Studios could realize their mistakes and correct them in time for Captain America: Civil War, or we might have a similar situation on our hands.
Again, thanks for reading, and leave your thoughts in the comment section below.