03 May 2012


The clock's ticking before Avengers comes out. With my skills in Advanced Jossology, I have been trying to predict how the movie is going to go. But most of it isn't a challenge, given what we already know: there will be banter, there will be them Learning To Be A Team, et cetera. And unsurprisingly, Joss has confessed that he loves S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson, because Clark Gregg is just his kind of actor, so there's no magic in being able to call that Coulson will get some good stuff in this movie.

But I have two little predictions that I'd like to have on the table, to see if I can call it right.

Number one, I know that Joss is in love with Kitty Pryde of the X-Men. When I saw him speak at ComiCon, he took a question from the audience and was beside himself when he realized that the questioner was dressed as her. When he wrote Astonishing X-Men, the story became Kitty Pryde Saves The World. So while Fox still holds the rights to movie adaptations of the X-Men, and Joss has said that he doesn't want to lard the movie up with too many inside jokes for Marvel Comics fans, I think he won't be able to resist a wink toward her. I'm imagining someone saying, “All this firepower and what we need right now is someone who can walk through walls.”

Number two, we know that Joss likes his Strong Woman Characters, but the only female Avenger we have is Black Widow. (I'm guessing that he lobbied hard to get The Wasp, too, but no luck.) And she's really just a non-super human being with spy and kung fu skills and a few little gadgets. How's that going to work?

I have a theory. You know that moment in the trailer where they are all standing in a circle? Hulk roars, Thor hefts Mjölnir, and Black Widow racks the slide on a little pistol? A friend was mocking that, talking about how a Glock just didn't rate compared to Iron Man's armor. But think about Batman when he's serving in the Justice League — him being a normal human being keeping pace with superheroes through wit and grit makes him the most badass of them all. Joss is going to find a way to sell Black Widow to us in the same way.

I'm picturing a scene something like this:

Captain America (to Black Widow)
No offense, ma'am, but I'm not comfortable bringing someone into this battle who doesn't have ... advantages ... like the rest of us.

Iron Man
She's tougher than she looks. But I feel protective toward her, too.

Black Widow
(Walking up to Iron Man. Sultry.)
Think I can't take you, Mr. Stark?

Iron Man
I thought you'd never ask.

Widow puts her hands on Iron Man's shoulders, and they exchange a look. Then in a dizzying flash of badass martial arts moves, she strikes his armor in a few key points and steps back, looking smug. Iron Man, to his obvious consternation, is frozen stock still.

Iron Man
Uh ... guys?

Do you have a way to take out all of us?

Want to find out?

(big grin, throwing up his hands)
I'll keep my dignity, thank you.

Bruce Banner
Me too, if it comes to that?

Absolutely, Dr. Banner.

When we get to that moment from the trailer in the actual movie (no doubt after Captain America bellows “Avengers assemble!” for the first time) we're going to be thinking, “Wait, she was badass enough barehanded, and now she's got a gun!?!


Rhett Aultman said...

And now we know why Black Widow is in there. Whedon loves his waif-fu. This kinda lowers a few points on my "prospective Avengers score," because it's a trope that only breaks the fourth wall for me. It's like shooting a car's gas tank and making it explode. It doesn't even happen in my imagination.

Jonathan Korman said...

I don't think Whedon put Black Widow in the movie; it seems evident that Marvel mandated which characters would be in the picture. All of the Marvel movies have drawn heavily on the style of Mark Millar's writing of the Avengers in The Ultimates. (Millar is a creep, but his characterization of Tony Stark is clever and led us directly to the inspired casting of Robert Downey, Jr., which made all this possible.) Ultimate Avengers had only two women, the Wasp and Black Widow, and frankly the Wasp is hard to do in film, so that put Widow in Iron Man 2 to set her up for this picture.

And Whedon makes an interesting choice not to go the road I predicted. His Widow has his characteristic tuff girl cocktail of toughness and vulnerability, but her abilities as a fighter are kept relatively modest (on a comic book scale, at least) and are actually not her most important capacity in the film.

She and the Hulk are the two characters who get the biggest boost from their portrayal in the movie, but I think that comes less from Whedon's efforts than from terrific performances from Marc Ruffalo as Banner, Scarlett Johanssen as Widow, and a team of unsung animators as the Hulk.