Thursday, 31 May 2012

The costumes and characters of The Avengers: Black Widow and Hawkeye.

Previously: Check the Avengers tag for other Avengers-related costume review posts.

OK, fair warning: This one is going to be a Haters To The Left post. Of all the Avengers, Hawkeye and Black Widow are the ones most likely to be sidelined as being supposedly less valuable than heavy-hitters like Iron Man and Thor. This kind of statement usually stems from the fact that they're the least superheroic of the Avengers, the implication being that if you don't have a jet-propelled robot suit or the ability to punch someone through a wall, you have less worth. In addition to being idiotic, claims like this are Not A Good Message For The Kids. This maye be a superhero movie, but it's also a story about teamwork, and the reason why SHIELD puts together a team instead of an army is because different people bring different skills to the table. This may seem like kind of a no-brainer, but from what I've read of many people's reactions to the film, it apparently needs to be said.
Black Widow got a truly ridiculous amount of criticism, both from professional reviewers and from mundane fans, but most of it seemed to be down to thoughtless sexism. If anything, Hawkeye was the weaker link of the team. Not because he's a "normal human" or because he got taken down by Loki (an event that was integral to the plot) but because he gets far, far less screentime in his own right than the other Avengers. For the bulk of the movie he's either under mind control or in the midst of an action scene, and the only real moment of Clint Barton time is his scene with Black Widow just after he's woken up. I'd actually classify him as filling something akin to the girlfriend/damsel role in Black Widow's character arc -- a person she cares about and feels she has to save, allowing the audience to learn about her Dark Past in the process. Like the love-interest or bus of innocent children that Batman or Superman has to wrest from the clutches of their villain of the week, Clint is the person who reveals Black Widow's emotional frailties and strengths.


My first reactions to Hawkeye were: 1) Disappointment that we didn't get to see more character details/backstory (even though I understand that there just wasn't enough time to flesh out another hero), and 2) amusement because he was so clearly an awesome character for kids. Obviously every superhero has its own specific fanbase of devoted 7-year-olds, but once Hawkeye got free from Loki he spent the whole time doing things that were just hilariously flashy and super-slick, like shooting an exploding arrow at aliens behind his own head, and jumping off buildings. Do you know what's really fun and easy to pose with? A bow-and-arrow that you just made out of a stick and a piece of string. Hawkeye was totally the kids' superhero.
T&A
Hawkeye's costume was the biggest departure from the comics. Goodbye, purple tunic. Goodbye, purple tights. Goodbye, purple domino mask. Goodbye, purple. Instead we get a presumably-kevlar vest and tight black trousers made from the same wetsuit material as the rest of the SHIELD-manufactured suits, meaning that Jeremy Renner gets to display both The Butt and The Gun Show in any and all press photos. You know there's a whole thing on Tumblr where people just tag pictures of the cast of The Avengers with "BUTTS" or Assvengers? Yeah, that's a thing. I can't imagine why.

The reasoning behind Hawkeye's bare arms is probably something to do with increased range of movement, but I kind of have my doubts about that one. For one thing, exposed biceps are not remotely necessary for shooting a bow and arrow, and for another, the shoulders of his costume honestly look like they might dig into his shoulder joint whenever he raised his arms above his head. It's possible that those shoulder-guards retract, but on the whole I think the shoulders of his costume look far too rigid.
Otherwise, Hawkeye's costumes are the most functional, and are founded in quasi-military designs. Instead of a blue SHIELD jumpsuit, he wears a black t-shirt and semi-armoured black vest and combat trousers. Because he's a focal character his face (and arms, because The Gun Show is in Jeremy Renner's contract) is bare, which makes him look weirdly exposed when compared to his fully riot-geared compatriots in Loki's Army and the SHIELD security teams, but serves the purpose of letting us know which one he is during fight scenes. The fact that his clothes are largely quite generic and designed to fade into the background works out just fine considering the fact that he's kind of the everyman of the Avengers, and his preferred role is to be hidden away from the centre of battle.
Since it seems to be the first thing many reviewers concentrated on with regards to Black Widow's role (hurr hurr, Scarlett Johannsson wearing tight clothes, hurrrr), I'll begin by talking about the catsuit. I've already written a bit about eyecandy in The Avengers in my Captain America post, and while I would say that Black Widow's costume isn't quite as practical as some of the other Avengers', it's not played for sex appeal any more than Captain America's is. Hawkeye's costume bares way more skin, and although I'd prefer it if Widow's outfit included some more obvious body-armour sections, it's no tighter or more form-fitting than any of the others. I'm not wild about the fact that she's wearing high heels, but since they're wedges and never really appear onscreen, there's a possibility they may just be there to boost her up a few inches among her much-taller co-stars. Chris Hemsworth is an entire foot taller than her, plus Thor boots. As for her casual clothes (on the Helicarrier and in the final scene in Central Park), they amount to jeans and leather jackets, and are practical rather than being the kind of drool-enducing sexxxy token female outfits some reviewers appear to have imagined.

This article about reviewer reactions to Black Widow's role in The Avengers is both fascinating and depressing. Thanks to the fact that I didn't read any mainstream reviews until after I'd already discussed the movie with lots of other fans, it was a while before I was even aware that there was so much negative feeling about Scarlett Johansson, both in general and in the context of Black Widow. People were saying that she was just there to look hot. People were saying that she was a token female. People were saying that she only had two facial expressions. Were these people even watching the same movie as me? The one where Black Widow, the most cerebral of the Avengers, is the only one to outwit Loki and play him at his own game? The one where she leaps onto an alien aircraft and works out how to steer it by stabbing the pilot with her knives? The one where she saves the world? It feels almost too ridiculous to say this, but it seems to me like a certain segment of the population have somehow been so blinded by Scarlett Johansson's attractiveness that they think her only asset is the ability to look good in a catsuit. And you know what? That isn't even an asset she utilises in this movie.
I watch a lot of things that fall under the action/comicbook/sci-fi umbrella, and there are already so many token female/badass seductress characters out there that I can almost see how someone who wasn't paying any attention might mistake Black Widow for one of them. But the reality is that there's no point during The Avengers when her looks are even commented on, and nor does she get any tiresome "feminine wiles" scenes. Most complaints or creepy sexist commentary on Black Widow's costume/body/character say far more about the commenter than about Johansson's performance itself. It's almost like people don't want to believe she's awesome. I've heard lots of people debate the relative hotness of the various male characters, but never to the detriment of those characters, whereas practically every mention of Widow's/Johansson's legendary sex-appeal is accompanied by some kind of snide implication that it's the main reason for her presence in the movie. If you want to be really annoyed, take a gander at this moment in the Avengers press tour (around 3 minutes in), which says a lot about the kind of questions actresses habitually have to answer when promoting their films. While Robert Downey Jr gets a complex question about characterisation, Johansson gets asked what she ate in preparation for her role. Black Widow isn't just a body. Scarlett Johansson isn't just a body.

I've even seen people complaining about Black Widow being afraid of the Hulk. Hey, guys, remember Lord of the Rings? That enormously successful movie franchise where the main characters spent the majority of the story being scared shitless, and as a result you somehow ended up believing that a giant glowing eye was a formidable and terrifying force of evil? Right. Wide-eyed terror is a perfectly reasonable response to the possibility of being stomped by a three-ton rage monster who is literally incapable of listening to reason. The more demonstrably fearsome something is, the more impressive it is when our heroes overcome that fear and tackle it head-on. One of the reasons why the Hulk was so effective in this movie was because everyone had a healthy respect for how dangerous he was, and Black Widow's reactions were a major part of selling that point to the audience.
BUDDIES. (picture from here.)
And so, I end this not-unexpected feminist rant post with a photo that summarises the two things that fans have deemed most important about The Avengers: friendship, and butts.

Previously: The costumes and characters of The Avengers, Part 1: SHIELD. and Part 2: Tony Stark, Pepper Potts, and Bruce Banner and Part 3: Steve Rogers/Captain America.

Links

60 comments:

  1. smokeandsong31 May 2012 11:21

    Oh man, thank you for this post. I loved Natasha SO MUCH MORE than I expected to, and was shocked to find out that that wasn't universal. One of my favorite moments of the whole movie (I have a lot of favorite moments) is where she's sitting on the floor in the rubble, literally shaking in terror, and the call comes in over her com for agents who are free, and with barely a moment of pause she volunteers. She VOLUNTEERS. That's badassery right there.

    The first-order, traditional female character is afraid of everything and needs to be rescued, and the second-order WOAH HUH FEMINISM? character is a robotic badass, but it takes a whole other level of actual comfort with women as complex human beings to say, you know what? She's afraid. And she's getting shit done anyway.

    I want a Black Widow movie more than I can say, but only if Joss writes it. That would be SO EASY for hollywood to screw up.

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  2. +11111111 :D

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  3. Excellent post!

    My only complaint about Natasha's costume is her inability to zip it up during the battle. Honey, you have Kevlar available, and there's debris flying all over the place!

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  4. Follower from Tumblr31 May 2012 11:52

    Absolutely fair points on the sexism regarding Scarlett but it really doesn't change what was in the film which was these characters referencing and their lack of energy and chemistry together. During my first viewing, I went from "What the hell is Black Widow talking about?" to "Ugh, the ledger or something about Barton...again. Who cares?" just in that 2 and a half hours. I think I would have liked to see if Loki tortured Hawkeye, outside of the whole mind control thing obviously, it would have given me an in-movie reason to see why BW cares so much. It was all tell and no show. And repeated viewings, along with reviews from film critics to tumblr warbling meta, has done nothing to change my mind. I'm just going to chalk up my lack of interest with these characters to 1-my not being an die hard comic reader 2-them being practically non-existent in the previous Avengers films which is where my familiarity begins. I hope if Marvel bothers to give them their own movie, which they are the only 2 I have yet to hear anything about (could be I'm looking in the wrong places), they just throw both of them into 1 movie I can ignore outside of any post-credit scenes and easter eggs that will show up on the film blogs.

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  5. I'd agree that maybe the Widow's boots were there to give her some height except that every single female SHIELD agent on the helicarrier was wearing the same sort of wedge heels. I admitt I had to *look* for that because the camera sure didn't focus on them (yay!), but I watched for them both times I went to see the movie. Although it may say something that I didn't notice *her* boots, just those of Maria Hill and the nameless agents in the background.

    One recent movie that didn't put the female action protagonist in heels was Haywire. It had other problems, but the protagonist wore flat-heeled shoes for most of it. The scenes where she was in heels made sense - she was under cover posing as a trophy wife - and as soon as she thought a fight might be coming, she took them off. I can forgive a movie quite a lot for that.

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  6. Pterodactyl11131 May 2012 14:12

    I loved Black Widow. I thought she was super blah in Iron Man 2, but I love love LOVED her in Avengers. Idk if it was better direction or what, but Scarlett BROUGHT IT.

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  7. Haters to the left! indeeed. I went out of the movie a) impressed, amazed, and HAPPY at Natasha's relevance and screen presence and c) surprise I didn't hate Tony Stark in this one. Heh.

    You may be interested in this post by Dr Science: Scarlett Johansson in a Gorilla Suit: The Superhero Mundanes Don't See which discusses the "which movie where they seeing?!" question. With HARD DATA! :D

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  8. Actually her looks do get commented on once in the movie, when her Russian interrogator says something like, "The legendary Black Widow turns out to be just another pretty face!" To which she says, "You think I'm pretty?" shortly before kicking his ass. Making it even more ironic that some film reviewers agreed with him...

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  9. I absolutely cannot like this post enough. I've only yesterday stumbled upon your blog through tumblr and I gotta say that your kind of movie analysis and dissection is the kind of stuff I absolutely live for. I kind of love you for it. I was totally unaware of the criticism aimed at Scarlett Johansson/ Black Widow. I was not particularly unimpressed with the Black Widow in Iron Man 2 because I didn't notice much character development beyond her straight-laced professionalism and Johansson's particularly brand of beauty doesn't appeal to me. However, both Johansson and Black Widow completely blew me away in Avengers. The article you linked in your post notes the absolute dismissal of Black Widow and Johansson as eye candy and I still can't quite believe it (and I still can't quite get past my simmering Hulk-rage). In my perspective, she was one of the most developed characters in the movie and while much of her past is still obscured, we get such a solid, wonderful grasp on the kind of character that she is. Even in various "action" moments of the movie, I felt such huge waves of respect to her as a "super"hero because of her courage to stand up to the supernatural forces of murder. I cringed in moments when Thor or the Cap got stabbed or thrown into very solid objects, but the entire time I'm watching them, I'm completely preoccupied with the fear that Black Widow would get murdered (given Joss Whedon's legendary bloodthirst and his proven fearlessness of letting very beloved characters die soul-crushing, anti-climatic deaths in the heat of battle [RIP Tara, Anya, Penny, Wash, Wesley]). One misstep from her, one weary slowed reaction to an attack would mean her very human body would be completely crushed. She can't afford to take a single, full blow from the aliens, but she is still right in the middle of complete chaos, hopelessly outnumbered with just a few superhero teammates backing her up at a time, and she still calmly takes on the task with cool confidence. What a total fucking badass. What is ironic to me is that Black Widow plays on just this sort of sexist dismissal of her as just a pretty face to let their male conceit lower their guard so she can gain the advantage. Just like Johansson, she is also known through reputation as particularly talented but when these men confront her face to face, they can't get past her actual face and are absolutely unwilling to see the kind of force she represents.

    All I have to say is that Johansson probably learned a whole bunch of nifty ways to break a human body in her stunt training so..... she IS essentially Black Widow (well. without the apparent traumatic childhood?).

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  10. And Black Widow beat Hawkeye in their fight, when he was trying to kill her and she was trying NOT to kill him! Glad she got that to show that she's not just brains – also a great hand to hand fighter!

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  11. Can I just leave a really short comment and not contribute to the discussion at all and say how amazing your blog is?

    -julianmagic from Tumblr

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  12. I've got to echo the surprise at the Black Widow hate, as she was so well written and acted... but then I'm not so surprised, because she's the woman, and female characters (and actors) always get hated the most. Always. Even when written by Joss Whedon. He did his best, but people were going to hate Black Widow regardless (or dismiss her as eye candy).

    One thing I like about the BW/Hawkeye team, btw, is how they reverse the common stereotypes for male and female fighters. Usually in pop culture (particularly in videogames), males tend to be more physically strong, close quarters fighters, while females tend to fight from a distance with ranged weapons (examples range from the kids in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe up to Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games). But with these two, Clint is the one who hangs back with a bow while Natasha is the one who punches people.

    One more thing: I've seen those publicity pictures lots of times, but I only just noticed that Natasha is wearing fingerless gloves. I wonder if there's any reason for that beyond 'cos it looks cool' (which it does).

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  13. This is gorgeous and beautiful and I thank you and oh God why can't we just implant this into everyone's heads. ;_;

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  14. Regarding Widow's footwear: In Iron Man 2, when Natasha and Happy are outside Hammer's facility, there is a brief shot that includes her wedges, but when she begins fighting inside moments later, there are several clear shots of her flat shoes, which she was probably supposed to have been wearing the whole time. I'm guessing it's the same for The Avengers.

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  15. I can only say YES. People who thought BW/SJ sucked or was a 'weak link' are basically haters whining about boobies in their dick-fest. Seriously. Because she was a *human* with no super-powers and minimal weapons (not even exploding/grappling/gps arrows!!) and she *kicked ass*. For fuck's sake.

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  16. I adore all your Avengers/Marvelverse posts, but this one was particularly welcome! Major +1'ing on the Hulk fear thing -- I could get where they were coming from if everyone else was totally gung-ho about the Hulk sitch and Black Widow was fainting and screaming all over the place, but it's the Hulk, she has seen all the damage that he can do and she has every reason to be afraid of the one thing she can't take down no matter how many of her skills she deploys. She can be vulnerable and she can be frightened, that doesn't make her a bad woman or a bad teammate. (I am a little peevish about how many people are going "omg cute" about Bruce's outburst in the beginning and then his sheepish smiley "sorry, that was mean" -- it's a character-proving moment for both of them and it definitely foreshadowed her later reactions to the Other Guy well, but loveable as Bruce is, that's pretty dickish.)

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  17. readdiefreddie7 June 2012 15:06

    I watched the movie again after I'd read your Avengers posts, and as Telophase pointed out, Black Widow's wedges seem to be standard SHIELD-wear. I noticed them on Maria Hill and other female agents when they were running around on the aircraft carrier, but only because I was looking for them. Hell, I deliberately looked for them on Black Widow and they were only really visible in the scene where she welcomes Steve and Bruce onto the carrier. The rest of the time, she's either moving far too quickly for them to be noticeable (and because I am obsessed, I checked frame by frame later and yes, she is wearing the wedges and not flats when pursued by the Hulk on the carrier and during the battle in Manhattan), or her lower legs aren't in frame.

    I feel like Joss Whedon might have actually made an effort for them to not be visible, because there more than a few shots where the bottom third of Black Widow's body was blocked by some object or she moved just out of frame whilst everyone else was completely visible. Even when we see a full-body shot of her confronting Loki, her feet are completely parallel so you can't see the heels at all. I was under the impression that even power stances have a slight/natural turnout, so someone had to have directed her to stand that way.

    I don't know if the wedges started out as a height necessity for Scarlett compared to the veritable giants that are Chris and...Chris (and RDJ with fifty billion lifts on), and they then decided to make it part of SHIELD's standard wear, or if they just created SHIELD's uniforms with Star Trek-esque gender distinctions, but either way it seems to be regulatory and the filming crew went out of their way to make them as invisible as possible. I still think it's weird that the female field agents wear them at all, since they actually have to run and fight at a moment's notice, but all the other background fighters were male so I guess it's not easy to make generalizations based off of a sample size of two.

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  18. jackobs brandon8 June 2012 23:23

    Black Widow Costumes

    Natasha has played a great role as black widow in avengers

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  19. oliverjack479 June 2012 03:24

    Outfits are just so amazing like it man. Thanks for sharing this post.



    avengers black widow costume

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  20. The only disappointment with the Black Widow costume is...it simply wasn't superhero-girl tight enough! Honestly...what is wrong with Scarlett Johansson in spray-painted-on spandex or pleather? What's wrong with Black Widow being sexy? Has anyone ever seen her 1970s skintight blue suit?

    Johansson has much more of a curvy body than I realized...yet her costume was only slightly tight---definately not skin tight as some writers erroneously claim---and so conservatively functional...while Captain America's suit is so much tighter, it makes you wonder who the audience target really is---gay males, not fanboys?

    Sexism? Please. It's called "entertainment".

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  21. Women pay for seats, too.

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  22. thank you! : )

    ugh, I REALLY NEED A BLACK WIDOW MOVIE TOO. almost even if it IS terrible, tbh. :///

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  23. yes, i have seen this post! i think the author linked to it in one of my other reviews. :) thanks!

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  24. thanks! :DDD

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  25. i think black widow's role in iron man 2 was kind of... unspecified, almost? like, half of it was interesting and the other half was like they didn't even know what to do with her character. it wasn't outright eye-candy or anything like that, but it was as if they were trying to edge away from that WHILE still retaining a vampy spy-lady role and then basically writing themselves into a corner.

    everything you say about black widow's physical vulnerability in avengers = spot on! AGREED.

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  26. oh yeah, i remember that. tbh i found that scene a little weird in that particular context because i was like, "in this scenario they would DEFINITELY have been more terrifying/rapey" and it kind of took me out of the moment a little? because i don't WANT any harassment/rape scenes, but it seemed sanitised or something.

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  27. i loved haywire! i never reviewed it here because i didn't have much to say outside of "it was fun, and i really appreciated the practical costumes", though.

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  28. apparently george r r martin said that when he saw the avengers, he thought black widow's role was pointless?? idk, when even WRITERS are saying this stuff...

    those are some really good points about black widow and hawkeye! i hadn't really considered the fighting styles thing. altho i'd say that in the hunger games, katniss the fighter/protector whereas peeta is basically... a mum. he takes care of people, is emotionally sensitive, and bakes, whereas katniss is emotionally closed-off and is the one who does most of the fighting/killing, even if it's usually from far away via bow and arrows.

    AFAIK the fingerless gloves are for practical purposes? like climbing or something, maybe. and weapons handling?

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  29. a lot of these issues are down to timing. there just wasn't enough time in the movie to show this much stuff -- altho i do hear that a director's cut may be released in cinemas this autumn and/or on the dvd, with 35 extra minutes of footage. i can't really agree with your points about blac widow, though -- inserting a scene to "prove" that she had feelings for hawkeye would've interrupted the flow of the earlier acts of the film, and i think what they had in the movie was enough. the scene with black widow and loki isn't so much a failure of "show don't tell", with black widow talking about her relationship with hawkeye, as a SUCCESS of "show don't tell" with her interrogation methods proving her to be smarter than loki, which is her equivalent of a superpower.

    re: loki torturing hawkeye -- isn't the mind-control torture enough? plus loki isn't really a sadist, unless it's something really personal, and he has no personal interesting in hawkeye -- he's just using him.

    obviously these things are mostly down to personal taste so i'm not going to argue that your own reaction to the movie is *wrong* (that kind of argument belongs in Youtube comments) but i have never read any of the hawkeye or black widow comics and still found their roles in the film to be interesting and well-written. hawkeye didn't get much personal screentime and is therefore a blank slate, but black widow got far more independent characterisation moments than many of the other "main" characters, particularly tony (because he's already got 2 iron man movies under his belt).

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  30. ehh... maybe it's really uncomfortable to zip all the way up to the neck?

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  31. i can't tell if this comment is kidding or not. ;)

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  32. i like to imagine that joss whedon did make an effort not to show the high heels :// man, high heels in action scenes are SO annoying. it's one of those things that is just SO baffling because all women know that it's hard to walk in them, and... what do guys think?? i mean, high heels are "feminine" or whatever but it's not as if a character like black widow or catwoman is in danger of looking butch. i realise that most superhero costumes are not really designed with practicality in mind, but high heels are just so... a;sdlfkj i don't know why i even bother, haha.

    re: SHIELD's standard uniforms on the helicarrier -- even though most (all??) women are wearing heels (which seems idiotic because they're on a MOVING VEHICLE with SMOOTH METAL FLOORS), the women can choose between wearing a dress and wearing the same jumpsuits/trouser suits as the men, which i rather appreciated.

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  33. the hulk-reactions were excellent all round, really. tony was the ONLY one who wasn't either visibly cacking it or at least ~professionally wary~~ about the prospect of bruce hulking out.

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  34. IF ONLY. :))) thanks!

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  35. Fair point about The Hunger Games, I still haven't read the books so was just going by what I remembered from the film. Katniss may use a bow but she's obviously a pretty tough cookie as well.

    As for the BW-hatred, here's one more good article in case you haven't read it already. Bit of a shame about GRRM's comments; he writes quite good female characters, you'd think he'd recognise one...
    http://www.fempop.com/2012/06/07/why-do-people-hate-black-widow/

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  36. alex mitchell13 June 2012 23:12

    BW isn't a "normal" human. The only "normal", non-superpowered hero on the team is Hawkeye. He is the one who cannot take a blow from the aliens w/o suffering or greatly or dying from it. When he crashes through the window after jumping off the building, we see him not recovering like a superhero and that it hurt.

    BW, in the comics, has been enhanced and the movie alludes to this w/the brainwashing recovery scene w/Hawkeye in the movie.

    "A revised, retconned origin[4] establishes her as being raised from early childhood by the U.S.S.R.'s "Black Widow Ops" program, rather than solely by Ivan Petrovitch. With other young female orphans, she is trained in combat and espionage at the covert "Red Room" facility. There, she is biotechnologically and psycho-technologically enhanced—an accounting that provides a rationale for her unusually long and youthful lifespan. While there, she was trained by, and a lover of, the Winter Soldier.[5] Each Black Widow is deployed with false memories to help ensure her loyalty. Romanova eventually discovers this, including the fact that she had never, as she had believed, been a ballerina. She further discovers that the Red Room is still active as "2R"." from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Widow_(Natalia_Romanova).

    Not to nitpick or anything; I'm just sick of seeing BW categorized as a normal human doing battle on the superhero team when she isn't--she's been modified (and that doesn't negate her awesome by any means!)--and I believe that they will bring this up in her BW movie--I don't think she's meant to be a normal human, when you consider what she says during the Hawkeye's brainwashing recovery wake-up scene. She talks about her brainwashing so I believe this canon will apply to the movies.

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  37. Yeah, I was going to say that one of the things I took away from the movie was the equal buttportunity going on. Everyone's butts were on display at some point or another, even the butts you didn't necessarily want to see. Avengers: Friendship is Showing off your Buns Together = what the movie was probably called before Hollywood made them change it.

    Also I think that one of the arguments for Black Widow being a fully realized character by herself is that she had her catsuit unzipped to basically her breasts for the whole time she was wearing it, and I never noticed. Until just now, that is, when I was looking at the stills and not being distracted by how she kicks ass while still being, you know, human. Plus she's basically the super spy interrogator of the outfit, seeing as subtlety does not compute for three other avengers, plus Clint prefers to shoot his problems.

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  38. Indigo Starblaster8 July 2012 13:17

    Hi there. I just wanted to let you know how much I've enjoyed your Avengers-related postings. Your discussion on costuming has really illuminated the characters for me, especially vis a vis Pepper, Tony and Bruce (and the whole post on SHIELD had me LMAO -- baby proofing the display screens, indeed... Maybe this is how Fury lost his eye?:) )

    Look forward to more, and all the best,

    Indigo Starblaster

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  39. Wonderful post! I really enjoyed whole series on Avengers. But I must point that Hawkeye's design is strictly based on Ultimate Hawkeye that was re-imagined by Bryan Hitch anf Mark Millar as here http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/0/3133/108917-138190-hawkeye_super.jpg Actually pretty much the designer admit that majority of the designs for any Avengers nad pre-Avengers films had their start in the Hitch-Millar Ultimates run. With prominent example of Nick Fury ;)

    Black Widow case- I'm not great fan of ScarJo, but I loved her BW. In Iron Man they didn't know really what to do with her, but in the Avengers she was amazing and I really hope that somebody at Marvel's notices how awesome her stand alone movie would be. Or not. We are getting Ant-Man instead.

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  40. Nice blog!.
    Also here is my blog: http://fullsoftwarebox.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-avengers-2012-bluray-720p-brrip.html

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  41. wow that's a compelling read. I'm going to rewatch the Avengers and see if maybe I judged Black Widow a bit harsh. I mean I didn't care for her but honestly I'm an old school DC guy, I loved Norton and I hold a grudge. I assumed my distaste was based on that and the fact that I kept hoping the entire movie was going to suck. (it didn't)

    I did hear a bunch about Scarlett Johansson and I didn't particularly care for her character when I saw the movie but I don't remember hating her or anything. Again I guess I really do need to rewatch it. Because I do enjoy a well done female character like Toph or Korra, and I need to make sure I don't like Black Widow because she's Marvel (like I equally dislike Cap, and Thor) and not because she's a woman.

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  42. interesting comment! i'm glad the post might have made you think more about black widow. i think there are quite a lot of viewers who were predisposed to dislike her for whatever reason -- which is particularly easy to do because a lot of us have a kind of unconscious prejudice against either scarlett johansson, or women in catsuits in general., with male characters there's such a wide variety of appearances that it's a lot easier to judge each one on their own terms, whereas 95% of female characters who wear sexy catsuits are very two-dimensional and sexist portrayals so it's easy to ASSUME that black widow falls into that category as well.

    black widow is actually the most cerebral character in the Avengers. tony and bruce both do science stuff, obviously, but by and large everyone else's impact is mostly to do with firepower and strategy. black widow, on the other hand, is the only one to really outwit loki.

    with toph and korra it's really easy to see why they're awesome because a) they're ass-kickers and tomboys, and b) they're written to be understood by quite young audiences so they have to be immediately appealing. but black widow is pretty subtle/un-flashy as a character, PLUS she (along with hawkeye) has the least backstory on film.

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  43. This is a brilliant post. I admit that I was too quick to dismiss Black Widow as the 'token sex object', probably because I was too quick to see her as one, and doing so made me miss her character development and downplay her ability as a superhero. But you really showed me. Thank you.

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  44. Excellent article.

    I've even seen people complaining about Black Widow being afraid of the Hulk.

    This film is the only instance in which I've ever been able to take the Hulk seriously as a character, and everyone's treatment of him as a constant, mortal threat was instrumental in making that happen.

    My only complaint about Black Widow is that her Russian sounded terrible. But that's just a pet peeve of mine. Even if I only liked about 2/3 of her performance and dialogue, that still puts her about 10 steps ahead of your average female comic book character.

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  45. Y'know the chair scene? When she was wearing the dress pictured? I'm pretty sure the whole point of that scene was to usurp the idea of female submission and lack of control. She was using the men's sense of security against them. If people didn't watching didn't get that... then... well they clearly weren't watching. Also, this is Joss Whedon's directing we're on about here.
    He gets it.

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  46. This post is brilliant. End of Story.

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  47. I know I am sort of late to the Party, but thanks. Natalia is a half-decent Russian female character that wasn't totally screwed up by the US comics/movie industry (but the first scene was still full of lolzes because there wasn't a single Russian speaker in it) , and it's sad that some people still went BOOOBS on her :(

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  48. Haha, yes her Russian was sad, to say the least - but again the "general" has a strong accent too so I just turned off the sound for the whole scene.

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  49. I know i am commenting very late here, but I think you should read the comic "SHIELD: Fury's Big Week". It shows some events before the events of The Avengers movie, and add some backstory to Black Widow and how she sees the Hulk.

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  50. ah ah ah i love you for all these posts!

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  51. Anastasia Barton10 December 2012 21:42

    Actually, Hawkeye isn't a normal human either. I've read multiple articles that say that he is either modified like Black Widow or he is a mutant like the X-Men. Only his eyesight is enhanced or special, however, and possibly also his arm strength, as his bow has an impressive draw weight. But he is not Captain America, and is still very vulnerable to injury. He's a sniper, not a foot soldier.

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  52. Yes. Yes good. I really can't say anything more than that this is...Wow. Perfect.

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  53. Well maybe you should read the actual comics, not articles. This is a movie based on comic books, and I feel like lots of people are forgetting that. Hence the costumes and all. I also think Black Widow's hedge boots were stupid/ugly.

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  54. Heels are acceptable in the real Navy, as well, where people are also obviously on moving vehicles with smooth metal floors. I'm pretty sure, anyway, that aircraft carriers aren't carpeted.

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  55. "Also I think that one of the arguments for Black Widow being a fully realized character by herself is that she had her catsuit unzipped to basically her breasts for the whole time she was wearing it"

    Her costume is low, but not THAT low. Not in these pictures, anyway! There's no actual cleavage action going on.

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  56. My god, I I love you. How have I not found your blog before?

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  57. Yes, plus this is the one scene where her looks *are* commented on - the general guy says she's beautiful, she says 'do you really think so' - clearly about to show him the mistake he's made for reducing her to her looks...

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  58. I liked Black Widow a lot, and I wasn't even expecting to, because I came out of "Lost in Translation" with the impression that Scarlet Johanssen was a no-talent hack whose only assets were, yeah, her assets. She blew me away in Avengers though -- she's believable as an action hero (unlike, say, WB actresses attempting high kicks in jeans so tight they can barely walk in them), she never gets reduced to feminine wiles, and I found her relationship with Hawkeye (that the movie only hinted at, unfortunately) extremely intriguing. They're one of the few straight pairings that I want fanfic of. :D


    If I were interviewing her, I would have asked her about the way she played that relationship -- what her headcanon was for Natasha's history with Clint.

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  59. Awesome post, thanks for writing!

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  60. What a great article! We have put together all of the Black Widow Costume ideas and accessories from around the internet onto one website. Your readers can find everything they need at Black Widow Costume. I thought this would be a neat addition to your post for your readers to easily find the costumes you talk about.

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