Natasha Romanova, codename: Black Widow
Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Sounds like a cool character, huh?
I thought so. And, apparently, so did the folks at Marvel. So we saw Natasha hit the silver screen, played by Scarlett Johansson. We saw her in the second Iron Man film, the second Captain America film, and in two Avengers films. Natasha was cool. She could get into people’s heads and make them give up their secrets. She could take on any enemy, be it human, alien, or machine. Her sarcastic quips kept her male teammates in check and she saved their butts a number of times.
She’s not my favorite Marvel character, but, before Gamora hit the scene with the Guardians of the Galaxy, she was the only female superhero we had.
So, I supported her.
Or at least I tried.
There’s not much merchandise out there for Black Widow. Or Gamora. Or Maria Hill. Or Scarlet Witch (although, granted, she is new to the MCU). I could have an action figure for every Iron Man suit Tony Stark has ever made, and then some. I could buy tons of “Avengers” t-shirts that only had Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye and the Hulk on them. But you know who was missing most of the time? Natasha Romanova. Black Widow. The same problem exists for fans of Gamora from the Guardians of the Galaxy. Gamora, who, at times, is the only competent person on that team (Rocket, arguably, is equally as competent, and he’s a raccoon) was omitted from much of the Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise.
I’ve spoken to a lot of people recently, at Awesome Con or today at the WeWantWidow event in DC. A lot of frustrated fathers who want to share their love of comics with their daughters, but are unable to because it’s difficult to find merchandise and toys for their daughters to play with.
Today, we tried to raise awareness about these issues. We organized a WeWantWidow movement in which Black Widow fans across the country would stage flash mobs and demonstrations in their local cities. Fans from Australia and Canada even got involved. Supporters posted – and are still posting – on social media using #WeWantWidow in order to try to catch the attention of media outlets and celebrities. The MarySue posted its support.
It’s too early to tell how successful the movement will be. But you know you’re doing something right when people actively seek you out and post about you on social media.
I attended the DC event, which was co-hosted by CosLove – an charitable organization of cosplayers who want to give back to their community. We met in front of the International Spy Museum in DC (fitting for a Black Widow event). We held signs, took pictures, and videos. We were a small group, but we attracted plenty of attention. At times, we were surrounded by photographers. Parents, walking around with their kids, asked to take pictures with us. Many people tweeted our pictures and expressed their support for our movement. We were stopped in the metro at Gallery Place station for more pictures. People took notice of us and expressed their support. It was clear to see that this was an important issue.
As of now, #WeWantWidow does not appear to be trending on Twitter. Hopefully, it does. Because if we cannot get Black Widow, who is an integral part of the biggest film franchise in the world, what hope do we have for the other heroes that we know and love? Yes, Wonder Woman is scheduled to get her own film. Captain Marvel is also scheduled to get her own film. But the movie industry is a fickle beast. The competition between DC and Marvel has forced the two to tip their hands early and tell us their scheduled film lineups long before they would normally. Cancelling any of these films would create a lot of backlash. Fans have been begging for a Black Widow movie for some time now (if you’ve not seen it, check out the James Bond style opening credits for a Black Widow solo film, created by a fan for a school project). Maybe we’ll get some or all these films. I’m not holding my breath.
Natasha Romanova has become more than a kickass superhero. Through this movement, and others in the past, she has become a symbol for all female superheroes. Just as we want to see more Black Widow, we want to see more female superheroes – on the big screen, on TV, and in the official merchandising. We want diversity in our superhero films. We want heroes that we can relate to. We want to see the incredible characters that we know and love brought to the big screen. And, most of all, we want our children to see male and female superheroes working together as equals. We want to teach them to accept and respect other people, regardless of what they look like. Everyone can be a hero.
Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Symbol of all female superheroes, real and make believe.
Editors Note: The WeWantWidow event was born online, via Facebook, and grew due to the hard work behind the scenes from the organizers. For more information, please visit the public page, located here.