*First things first, if you still haven't seen [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035), there will be some spoilers about Black Widow ahead.*
As is the case with most Marvel movies, Avengers: Age of Ultron was a really fun movie. Whether or not you think it lived up to the first film, or all of the hype, it's difficult to deny that it was an enjoyable film. Heck, I had trouble wiping the smile off my face for hours afterwards.
Despite a lot of people being happy, overall, with the of the movie, there were still some fans that left the theaters less than entertained. If you haven't heard, director Joss Whedon has been facing a lot of criticism for his portrayal of Black Widow and her character in Age of Ultron.
The argument is, the twists in Black Widow's backstory, mainly that her romance with Bruce and the revelation that she's infertile somehow weaken her and go against Joss Whedon's stance as a proclaimed feminist.
In his Reddit AMA for water defense, and in true Good-Guy-Mark-Ruffalo fashion, he stood up for Whedon, and instead points a finger at a larger societal issue in his rather long and thoughtful response:
I think it's sad. Because I know how Joss feels about women, and I know that he's made it a point to create strong female characters. I think part of the problem is that people are frustrated that they want to see more women, doing more things, in superhero movies, and because we don't have as many women as we should yet, they're very, very sensitive to every single storyline that comes up right now. But I think what's beautiful about what Joss did with Black Widow - I don't think he makes her any weaker, he just brings this idea of love to a superhero, and I think that's beautiful.
Ruffalo goes on to state that Natasha Romanoff's backstory doesn't weaken her, but actually makes her stronger. He then posits why there is this level of high sensitivity regarding her storyline in Age of Ultron:
If anything, Black Widow is much stronger than Banner. She protects him. She does her job, and basically they begin to have a relationship as friends, and I think it's a misplaced anger. I think that what people might really be upset about is the fact that we need more superhuman women. The guys can do anything, they can have love affairs, they can be weak or strong and nobody raises an eyebrow. But when we do that with a woman, because there are so few storylines for women, we become hyper-critical of every single move that we make because there's not much else to compare it to.
Over the years, Joss Whedon has created some of the strongest and most dynamic female characters and female-centered storylines in film and television. Between Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Serenity and Dollhouse alone, he's built worlds in which women are powerful, smart, and rightfully opinionated.
Given Whedon's body of work I didn't need proof that he is an advocate for women. Even so, hearing it from the mouth of someone who has worked with him for years, and is as great as Mark Ruffalo, it's a nice confirmation of what many of us already knew to be true:
I know Joss really well. I know what his values are. And I think it's sad, because in a lot of ways, there haven't been as many champions in this universe as Joss is and will continue to be. And I know it hurts him. I know it's heavy on him. And the guy's one of the sweetest, best guys, and I know him - as far as any man can be a champion for women, he is that.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and when it comes to a subjective art form like filmmaking, not everyone is going to be happy all the time. Still, I personally find the criticism towards Joss Whedon on this front to be unnecessary.
Furthermore, Whedon did not delete his Twitter because of the backlash he faced from Black Widow's treatment. His reasons are much more professional and much less inflammatory. Whedon left the social media site because he wanted to spend time working on upcoming projects with less distraction. I totally feel you on that, Whedon. He told Buzzfeed:
Believe me, I have been attacked by militant feminists since I got on Twitter. That’s something I’m used to. Every breed of feminism is attacking every other breed, and every subsection of liberalism is always busy attacking another subsection of liberalism, because god forbid they should all band together and actually fight for the cause.
At least he has a friend and coworker like Mark Ruffalo in his corner. He appears to be even more Incredible in real life than the man he plays onscreen.