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Much like Hawkeye, Black Widow has never really received the attention she deserves. But unlike Hawkeye, she’s an interesting female character, which, as we know, is hard to come by in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Joss Whedon stepped up her game in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but fans are still decrying her portrayal as misogynistic and underwhelming. Fortunately, both Widow and Whedon have Hulk himself to stand up to the harsher critics.
The ongoing controversy over the handling of Black Widow was thrown in Mark Ruffalo’s face on Twitter, of all places. A fan responded to one of the actor’s earlier tweets by calling the portrayal of Natasha Romanoff "nothing but a love interest who needed saving." Ruffalo, in turn, responded with the following.
And, naturally, the comments and replies go on forever.
Marvelites have rallied behind Black Widow since her popular appearance in Iron Man 2 and her more realized introduction in The Avengers. A solo movie for this superheroine might never happen — one was in development and then shut down — but fans are still frustrated with her constantly taking a backseat to her male counterparts. Social media is littered with rants, complaints and protests for this seemingly misogynistic practice.
However, Whedon has long been a firm believer and purveyor of feminist ideals. Equality Now even honored him with an award for his support of women’s rights. So, it’s difficult to call someone like him an enemy of women. Does that mean Age of Ultron is free from criticism on this level? Absolutely not, but Ruffalo, who was clearly involved in creating these moments between Bruce Banner and Romanoff, knows a little something about the film’s intent.
Romanoff was more involved in this Avengers film, having developed a relationship with Banner, an unexpected pairing to say the least. As Ruffalo joked during the press tour, though, he always knew these heroes would end up together. Both have dark pasts with monsters lying within. Banner’s is more literal (i.e. the giant green rage monster), while Romanoff was created to be a weapon and has a lot of red on her ledger. Be warned of SPOILERS from Age of Ultron in the rest of this paragraph, but as we find out in the film, she was sterilized as part of her Black Widow Training Academy graduation, which makes it difficult for her to get close to people. Ruffalo’s response to this interesting conversation seems to point to how his character forced himself away from Romanoff as she was trying to get closer to him, even willing to give up her own life to run away with him. In the end, he’s so overcome by his inner demons that he goes off to live in seclusion, putting himself in a metaphorical cage.
For everyone’s sake, we’re just glad Black Widow wasn’t the one who died in the film. Otherwise, there would have been a major uprising.