When it comes to The Avengers, fans love every superhero — but it is hard not to love Black Widow just a little bit more than the other characters. Everything about her screams cool. While the rest of The Avengers are powered up (or shoot arrows... I'm looking at you, Hawkeye), Black Widow is all human, and still holding her own. Her past is complicated and her wit is dryer than the Sahara. She is basically everything we wish we could be. That is why it is important to issue this reminder of things you should never say to a Black Widow fan.
See, we Natasha fans are a protective bunch, and if we won't let Captain America and Hawkeye talk smack about our favorite hero, then we surely won't put up with similar comments from the loud guy sitting behind us at the theater. Just because we're not skilled in hand-to-hand combat does not mean we won't totally school you in why Black Widow is clearly the best. So before any arguments get started, why not consult this handy dandy guide of nine things you should never, ever say to a Black Widow fan. Trust me, you won't like us when we're angry.
1. "Black Widow is the token female character."
First of all, the phrase "token female character" should be erased from our vocabulary. Second of all, Black Widow isn't the token anything. Yes, as of right now she is flying solo as the only full time female Avenger (although Maria Hill is seriously due to be upgraded to Avenger status) — but being the only woman in the room does not diminish her contributions to the team.
Black Widow has her own motivations, her own stories, and her own past. She is always right in the middle of the action and often saving everyone else. She is not a "token" anything. She's Black Widow.
2. "She's just there to be a romantic interest."
Do I have to dignify this with a response? We all like to 'ship characters, but the truth is, so far, all of Black Widow's romantic relationships have been non-canon. She is friends with Hawkeye, she spied on Tony, and she kissed Steve to keep the attention away from them during a situation when they needed to keep a low profile. Being in the same movie as a male character does not make Black Widow their love interest.
If she does at some point hook up with one of these characters or someone else canonically, then so what? Every dude in the franchise is someone's love interest. Does that diminish their place on the team? Nope, so why should it diminish Natasha's if it ever actually happens?
3. "No one would go see a Black Widow movie."
Marvel does not appear to be seriously interested in making a Black Widow movie because Marvel is really bad at listening. If people are willing to go see Ant-Man, a movie about some rando who can control bugs with his mind and make himself tiny, then they will put their butts in theater seats to watch an already established, ass-kicking super spy. Yes, it frustrates me that Marvel has not given us a Black Widow movie, but the problem is them, not the audience, as evidenced by Scarlett Johansson's Lucy taking in over $448 million at the box office worldwide.
4. "Black Widow is the eye candy."
Just like Black Widow is not onscreen to represent all of womankind, she is also not there to serve the male gaze. Johansson is beautiful, but, news flash — all of those sweaty, sometimes shirtless dudes in the skintight suits are also beautiful. I accept the fact that people think Black Widow is gorgeous. She is, and so is the rest of the cast. However, she is not simply something to look at. She is a character who demands the same kind respect Captain America and Iron Man demand. It is okay to appreciate her sexiness, but, if that's all you can see, then we have a problem.
5. "Girls shouldn't look up to Black Widow."
More than once, I have heard the argument that young girls should not look up to Black Widow because of her character's dark past. When it comes right down to it, Black Widow is way more complicated than her comrades. She has killed people and worked for the bad guys (even if we haven't seen it onscreen). What makes her a hero worthy of our admiration is how she has turned her life around. Her backstory is full of pain and manipulation, but she has become her own person now. She makes her own choices and she fights on the side of the good guys. As heroes go, Black Widow is an excellent role model for little girls to have if you want them to learn about resiliency, strength, and not letting past mistakes define you.
6. "Black Widow isn't as strong as the other Avengers."
Physically, Natasha is not as strong as Thor (who is a god), Iron Man (who has a super suit), The Hulk (a giant rage monster), or Cap (who has enhanced strength). She is all human, so she has no superpowers to fall back on. That does not mean she is not as strong as her teammates in other ways — in fact, she may actually be stronger.
She has more field experience than any of them, for one thing — and it takes a special kind of strength to go up against aliens and robots with nothing but your own well-honed fighting skills to back you up. Strength is not all about who can lift the most, it is also about endurance, and Natasha never backs down.
7. "Black Widow didn't totally save everyone at the end of The Avengers."
Every Avenger played a part in saving the day in The Avengers, but if Black Widow had not used Loki's scepter to hold open the portal for Tony to get through, they all would have been screwed. So yes, everyone is a hero, but Black Widow was the Big Damn Hero of the movie.
8. "Black Widow is just there to further the guys' story lines."
Nope. Listen, Marvel is not perfect. If they were we would have a Black Widow solo film. I will concede Natasha has been the supporting player in Marvel films, and as a result, she has been tasked with listening to/helping her male teammates work through their issues. That is not why she exists, though.
Saving Hawkeye in The Avengers was as much for her as it was for him — he's her best friend; wouldn't you save your best friend? Helping Cap was her choice in Captain America: Winter Soldier, and she had her own agenda entirely in Iron Man 2. I want to see Black Widow open up about her own past instead of just listening to the guys all the time, but let's not overlook all the cool moments she has had on her own.
9. "No one wants Black Widow toys."
Yes they do, and even The Hulk knows it.