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Why Does the Black Widow Movie Have to Be “Its Own Genre”?

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in Infinity War in one of the new scenes in which she had a speaking role, which is a blessing and a curse considering who the actress is.

A superhero movie can be a superhero movie; it doesn’t have to be a different “genre,” but apparently, that’s what Black Widow is. To be fair, I think Scarlett Johannson probably means that the Black Widow movie doesn’t feel like a superhero movie, so it’s probably just going to have the same feel that Captain America: The Winter Soldier had.

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At San Diego Comic-Con this year, ScarJo talked about the movies that they looked to for Black Widow inspiration and told MTVNews all about it:

It’s pretty gritty, but it’s also surprising … it’s kind of in its own genre, I think. Some of the movies that we talked about, we talked about The Fugitive, we talked about Logan, we talked about Terminator 2.

First of all, two of those movies I’d put in the same genre of movies as the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe anyway, which already calls into question what she means by it feeling like a different genre. Second … they’re all action movies.

Here’s the problem with comments like this: they make it seem like being a superhero movie is a bad thing. If anything, the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe made it so that we took superhero movies just as seriously as other movies without taking away the fantastical element of them. Look at something like Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. While great, in my opinion, they take away as many of the “cheesy” aspects of Batman as possible and make it about the dark and twisted reality of heroism.

Marvel? Well, it embraced the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and understood their heroes, and it made the superhero genre something that could be an art form that is taken seriously. Comments like Johansson’s, while seemingly off-hand, can be detrimental to how people view superhero movies overall.

Look at a movie like Iron Man. It has real-life stakes; it shows the unwitting results of Tony Stark’s lack of involvement with his own company and shows the evolution from a man who was struggling with understanding himself into someone the world idolized as a hero. That movie, while a typical “action” movie, took the superhero genre and made it clear that you can tell these deep stories with flawed characters and still make an enjoyable movie about a superhero who flies around in a fun suit.

The need to place Black Widow in a different “genre,” as though superhero movies can’t do new and interesting things unless they’re not superhero movies anymore, makes it seem like there’s something wrong with the superhero genre as a whole, and … well, there isn’t.

This all just reminds me of how I want to love Natasha Romanoff without having to deal with things that Johansson says. I want to love Black Widow and her character arc and not deal with the celebrity aspect, but alas, it’s 2019, and here we are. That being said, Johansson’s arc as Natasha is almost at an end since we know of her fate in Avengers: Endgame, so unless they keep just going back in time and showing us aspects of her character, I’m pretty sure that Black Widow is going to set up the next era for a Johansson-less Black Widow title.

While the Black Widow standalone film has been a long time coming, it’s now being dragged because of how Scarlett Johansson has responded to criticism of roles she’s taken, including opening her mouth and saying that she should be able to play any person or … tree—not a good look. It has gotten to the point where OUT Magazine even dragged her and made a mockery of the film and what it represents with Scarlett Johansson as the lead.

Being a Natasha Romanoff stan since Iron Man 2, I’d like it very much if I could like this movie and separate the two completely, but this is the world of celebrity now and it hurts that with every new mistake that Johansson makes, it is a ding against a character that deserved so much more than she got in the MCU.

Here is my hope: that the movie names Yelena the next Black Widow and gives Natasha Romanoff the sendoff she deserves, and then I can go back to loving that character without having to worry about Scarlett Johansson saying something else. There’s a perfect video from The View where Whoopi Goldberg goes into Johannson’s comments and why they’re so daft.

To be honest, I feel like it’s something that Johansson has the ability to learn from, and maybe she will. In the meantime, I just hope that Black Widow gives Natasha Romanoff a great sendoff and lets Yelena take on the title in a new and exciting way.

(via, image: Marvel Entertainment)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh.

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