Joss Whedon’s Black Widow is a figure that transcends the common problem of female and male stereotypes depictions by incorporating both to create an interesting archetype.
The Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson, is literally called into action by an agent called Coulson. Black Widow appears to be tortured but actually informs us through conversation over a telephone that the situation is the opposite of what we are seeing. The agent needs this woman to leave being interrogated to assist him. Now the audience is interested because this woman is not a helpless female cliche. This does not mean the audience are not scared for the tied up sexy scantily clad woman who appears to make things worse when she starts to challenge and insult not only the men in the room but the male agent on the phone. This woman will now be at the mercy of the tough men interrogating her. But this is Black Widow. She rejects all requests to leave the situation until the agent mentions a name. Her response to the information about a certain someone is emotional. This is crucial. She puts the agent on hold as the interrogators look on. The audience now cannot anticipate Black Widow’s next move. She unleashes the reality of Black Widow. A strong woman who is also underhand. She has played the helpless female to extract information from her interrogators but now she beats the hell out of them while being tied to a chair in a scantily clad negligee. Now men and women of all types are interested in Black Widow.
Soon we are in India. A little Indian girl plays the helpless act to entice doctor aka Incredible Hulk played by Mark Ruffalo out of hiding. The little girl is being trained in the dark ways of women by the Black Widow except the cause is for the greater good and not the noir stereotype of beautiful women duping men for their own ends.
Women called Black Widows may have killed their husbands or are not to be trusted. The name Black Widow has various connotations. The female black widow spider is known to reproduce with the male spider. After which, she bites off the male spider’s head and lays her egg on his body as food for the baby spider. Joss Whedon plays with stereotype perceptions to create an archetypal female. Black Widow is a deadly, dangerous, intelligent and sexy woman who will resort to playing helpless maidens or noir stereotypes if such action is required. Usually her actions are for others. Black Widow is shown to be emotional. Emotions are something humans need to function and this is even the way we respond to film. However, emotional female characters are often denigrated but not in Avengers. She must learn how to manage difficult emotions like any other normal human being. Black Widow is also smart, often more so than the men, superheroes or super villains in the room. She is a modern superhero version of Ripley played by Sigourney Weaver and Sarah Connor played by Linda Hamilton in the 80s which allows him to shine a light on the backward depiction of some female characters.
All types of audiences are catered for in the aforementioned scenes. This includes the men/boys who prefer women/girls to be helpless, sexy or noir stereotypes but then time is also given to men/boys who prefer complex intelligent female characters with personalities. The female audience are given a strong female character who they can identify with.
For more information about the third highest grossing film, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Avengers_(2012_film)
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