Disclaimer: This is not a review.
Because, Full Disclosure: I have not watched the film!
That said? I made my final choice to avoid the movie based on what I did know. So allow me to give that context, before outlining my utter loathing of one scene defining the whole:
- Scarlett Johansson has never convinced me as any kind of action heroine. That is not to in any way undermine her acting abilities or screen presence. The girl is a star! But master assassin spy? No.
- Consequently, I never ‘ bought’ the character as an Avenger, let alone any kind of standalone spin off heroine.
- I loathe fake Eastern European accents on film or any attempt to trivialise the suffering of innocent Russians caught up in ‘cold war’ or post Berlin wall antics. Even James Bond avoids such inanity.
- Scarlett has hinted that she was awkward with her treatment in previous Marvel efforts, notably, Iron Man 2. Except that was the movie which made her a part of a universe she still inhabits and without which, her clout would be much reduced.
- In addition, of all your Marvel heroes? Ironically, for all his previous womanising and mucking around, Stark (Robert Downey Junior) was among the warmest, funniest and ultimately, loving of characters, dying in his wife’s arms (Pepper Potts /Gwynnnniee). If you seek out Iron Man as a bad example in the treatment of women? You are just WRONG!
- Compare that to say, Cumberbatch’s titular ‘hero’ basically abusing his best mate (Christine Palmer / Rachel McAdams) in 2016’s Doctor Strange. Charmless, soulless, wannabe Iron Man without the soul and actually in fact kinda sexist. Scarlett obv missed Dr Strange while hating on Mr Stark?
- IE: If you are going to market BLACK WIDOW as part of some new metatextual pseudo-feminist narrative? Then expect me to do likewise in my decision to rebel and avoid the film for those same reasons.
- If you cannot sell a film on its merits as a thriller/action/adventure piece etc? Then don’t be shocked when I simply watch a selection of clips and think ‘no way’.
And it was in THAT very context between objective remove and subjective revulsion that I witnessed THAT clip. The one many critics are calling out.
Black Widow’s sidekick (Florence Pugh) starts talking, in a presumably faux accent, and with childlike simplicity, about the removal of her reproductive organs. See for yourself, below. And weep.
THINK ABOUT THAT. This oh so feminist film? Makes a joke out of the sadistic butchery of a woman. They just don’t learn, do they? AGE OF ULTRON already fluffed that.
(No, I did not think Joss Whedon back then meant Black Widow was a monster for being sterile; just the comparison to the Hulk was forced and the reference to sterility gratuitous).
It’s even WORSE here, and even a post cancelled Whedon would surely not sink to this abyss. It is adolescent at best and deeply creepy at worst.
Yes, family action pictures can touch on deeper, darker issues. Indiana Jones once took on child slavery. But the trick is to hint at those layers and work them into a rip roaring thrill a minute action flick for all. Not actually delve into details that are then cast off like a redundant one liner.
We are in an era where women are still neglected, abused and subject, even in western and affluent nations with high science, to the most invasive and painful medical procedures.
So placing this kind of line in a throwaway comedic scene in a painfully piss poor comic book spin off that’s already a decade too late in the making? That does not advance womens’ rights or indeed any form of civilised creativity. It is the worst kind of base laziness and an insult to decency.
I urge you, therefore, to join me, on principle, and on the basis of this scene alone, avoid BLACK WIDOW. I would never begrudge anyone’s enjoyment or right to disagree. But we have a duty to take a moral stand, too, surely?
Failing which: watch by all means. Enjoy!
But note that the amazing RAY WINSTONE is in the movie and they waste him on a generic throwaway cameo when he could and should be playing one of the more prominent Marvel characters (Kang? Thing? Sandman? Captain Britain?) and opposite one of the bigger hitters (ie a much missed Stark /Downey?). Chronic underuse of amazing actor and star = instant disqualification from my watchlist!
There you have it, anyway. Rant done. Off to Budapest to get the red out of my ledger..