This past weekend, Marvel fans across the country flocked to the theaters to finally catch the highly-anticipated Avengers sequel. And like most Marvel movies, it did not disappoint in providing exciting action, quirky humor, and in depth looks at our favorite superheroes. But this time around, the franchise shifted the focus onto characters who aren’t often given the same attention as the leaders of the group, namely Black Widow.
We’ve known Black Widow since 2010’s Iron Man 2, when Natasha Romanoff posed as Tony Stark’s assistant before finally revealing her S.H.I.E.L.D. alliance. Scarlett Johansson has reprised the role in a number of movies, but in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the character had her biggest reveal yet.
There are going to be some major spoilers ahead, as we go deeper into exploring what happened with Black Widow in Age of Ultron, so if you haven’t seen the film quite yet, now’s your chance to turn back.
Age of Ultron gave us an intimate look into the life of Hawkeye, and Black Widow, two characters who have often been set up mainly as sidekicks up until this point. We got up close and personal with Hawkeye’s home life, but when it came to Black Widow we entered much deeper waters, into her mind and into her past.
The conversation arises when Natasha and Bruce Banner are discussing the idea of running away together. Banner is still a bit shaken up from falling under Scarlet Witch’s spell, and going all savage Hulk on an innocent city. The team has just been welcomed into the home of Hawkeye, adorable children included, and the desire to have a ‘normal life’ is a concept the entire team struggles with at some point throughout the film. So, as Banner and Natasha discuss this idea, Banner snaps that he will never be able to give her a normal life or children. To that, Natasha responds with an intensely personal admittal, that she can not have children, since being sterilized was part of her spy initiation, essentially done to ensure that there was no chance of turning back on a job (and a child would do that).
That brings us to the question of the hour: Is this too much information? After some thought, we have multiple answers, because on one hand it might be too much information, but on the other hand, maybe the real problem is that it’s not enough.
Kind of, because Natasha and Banner are still new.
It’s easy to argue that this is an intimate moment between Banner and Natasha that is appropriate for deep, personal conversation. One of the dominating plot points of Age of Ultron is building this newly developed relationship. We see the blossoming love between the two including the incredible ‘lullaby’ sequences that reiterates a special connection forming. But, it does seem to be a big, personal reveal for a relationship that is quite new to us.
There really was no hint of romantic chemistry between the two in the first Avengers, and while it could’ve built a bit in the time unseen, it feels like a very new concept to them. Towards the beginning, Banner jokes about Natasha’s flirtation nature with the boys, and not soon after, she is sharing probably the most intensely personal and upsetting aspect of her past. It’s a heavy reveal, and a bit too much given the current status of the two’s relationship, which is not to say that they aren’t working towards that type of chat, but within the current timeline, it felt a bit out of place.
And we really don't know Natasha that well...
Not only was one of the major focuses of this film the relationship of Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff, but it was also just the developing of Natasha’s character. We’ve known Black Widow for some time now, but did we ever really get to know her? Natasha has now been in a total of four Marvel films now and each of them she played particularly important roles in the fight. But despite her importance, she’s been pushed primarily to the sidekick realm, with little recognition and little information on her character.
We’ve gotten snip bits, here and there about the difficulties in her past, her crossover to the good-side by joining S.H.I.E.L.D., but they’ve all been scattered facts that aren’t as cleanly fit together as characters with their own origin movies (which has pretty much been every other Avenger other than Hawkeye). It was a bit too much info considering how little we know Black Widow but want to. This reveal would be an important subject to cover during an origin story, a Black Widow movie or TV show, but to give us this highly personal information (that is arguably more personal than anything we know of her men counterparts) seems uncomfortably out of place.
But actually, maybe it’s not enough information.
What little we know of Natasha Romanoff is actually a problem. Black Widow’s big reveal may have felt heavy and out of place for the context of the film, but it just proves that we need more knowledge of the character. It only heightened our interest into getting to know her better, and also makes it even more apparent how much she needs her own film. Her story is intriguing. Those glimpses into her dark and twisted past were some of the more captivating moments of the film. And leave it to Joss Whedon to explore the depth of a female character who is highly underrated.
Throughout Black Widow’s time in the MCU we’ve been given hints of her remorse and determination to redeem herself, and we know she had a difficult past. But Avengers: Age of Ultron was the first time we started to see exactly how messed up that past was. Before it was all speculative. Now, with this information about her infertility and the dark regrets she has inside her, we just want more. We want to know Black Widow’s full story. Marvel just gave us one of the most personal pieces of information they’ve given about any of their characters in this universe, but yet they haven’t told us the full story, and so far, they don’t seem to have a plan to either.
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