Like many highly anticipated movies in 2020, Black Widow’s standalone film has been delayed due to COVID-19. Although this means eager fans are having to wait until November to see one of their favorite superheroes in action, it also allows for an in-depth discussion of Black Widow and her now intergral role in the MCU. This is the approach taken by Clayburn Griffin and Nikhil Kasbekar, the hosts of the nerd-adjacent and superhero-focused podcast, We Understood That Reference. The first episode of their podcast is dedicated to the development of the Black Widow character.
Despite the fact that Black Widow is now a beloved avenger with an upcoming solo movie, Clayburn and Nikhil pose the question– was Black Widow always considered a good guy? The answer seems to be a complicated one as she was a grey character for awhile. Black Widow joined the Avengers Team in #29 of the Marve comics and actually started off as an Iron Man villain, which began her rise from antihero to good guy. Clayburn suggests that Black Widow’s character complexity also partially stems from the fact that she has always seemed very “S.H.I.E.L.D.-like.” He states: “She seems like a character that is not so much a superhero, but more of a company man.”
Black Widow’s initial introduction to the MCU seems to be due to her easy backstory as well as Marvel’s need for a female character to round out the Avengers. Now, she has become one of the most important avengers, especially considering her role in End Game with her self-sacrifice to save the whole universe.
It is also interesting to note that Black Widow’s integral role was not established by Marvel Comics, but rather Marvel Studios and its parent company Disney. In their Black Widow episode, Nikhil explains that the Wasp was a much bigger character in the comics and was a founding member of the avengers and really filled the female role that Black Widow occupies today. Black Widow’s role became more prominent because the superheroes chosen to be on screen by Marvel are actually based on who would sell the most action figures. Apparently, the Wasp didn’t cut it and Black Widow began her rise to fame.
When considering beloved superhero movies, it would be unfair to not acknowledge the actor who brings the character to life. That being said, it is undeniable that Scarlett Johansson elevates Black Widow herself and shares the responsibility of making her a household name, not only through her fame but also with her intriguing and compelling portrayal of the character.
If you would like to learn more about Black Widow’s evolution in anticipation of the upcoming film and consider more aspects of her character (like the development of her look and if the MCU has made good use of her skills as well as the ways she compare with other female icons) check out the We Understood That Reference podcast. They also cover superhero movies and comic book stuff in general. You can find them on their website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. They’re all over the place!
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