As an avid Marvel fan, I have been waiting for the release of Black Widow for about a decade now. Thus, this film is a very big deal for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its fans.
This is a film that centres itself around women, and we love to see it. It is undeniable that previous Marvel films featuring Natasha Romanoff’s character have shown her in an incredibly hypersexualised light. But, when watching this new release, I, and many others, finally got the chance to see Natasha without that male gaze glaring at her.
In my opinion, the casting of this film was borderline perfect and is what makes this film such a success. Although I personally don’t support Scarlett Johansson for her past controversies, Florence Pugh has easily risen to be one of my favourite actresses over the past two years. It is the chemistry of Johansson, Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour that allow the film to work so well. This family dynamic thrives and is incredibly female driven – Weisz is shown to be the ‘brains’ of the family whilst Harbour takes the comedic role and has minimal control over these three women. These female-driven relationships are a fresh change from previous Marvel films that present Natasha having very negative relationships with women, for example Pepper Potts. Black Widow is a film that joins women together in solidarity and power rather than pitting them against each other.
At its core, this film shows the connection amongst women and their taking control of the trauma caused by men. Some scenes that highlighted this were the Widows being freed from mental manipulation, Natasha’s insistence on freeing Antonia, and the Widows also refusing to leave her behind. This female unity almost feels like a reclaiming of Black Widow’s previous sexualisation and allows that trauma to be seen through a female lens. The removal of the male gaze has allowed for a much deeper story – one that genuinely focuses on Romanoff, not just on her inability to have children.
It is also clear that all the costumes in Black Widow focus on the women’s strengths and abilities rather than their sex appeal – this has never been the case before. Cate Shortland, the director of the film, comments on how she decided to keep one “sexy” scene in the film: “I enjoy how sexy she is, as long as she’s in control.” That is exactly what this film is – women taking back control and being in power – I am so happy to have finally witnessed that.