Different Interpretations Of The Same Character (Black Widow)
I came across an interesting post from the blog ‘Doorway Between Worlds‘ about the portrayal of Black Widow in the Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Apparently a lot of people feel that she has been reduced to a damsel in distress. Now that I have heard this I can see why, but at the time of seeing the movie the thought never crossed my mind. (Some spoilers ahead.)
The post is interesting in that it shows two completely different interpretations of the same character. On the one hand you could consider her just as the ‘girlfriend’ being turned into a motherly figure, or you could think of this as adding further emotional depth to her character. I actually didn’t connect with her or Hawkeye at all in the first film, but this wasn’t the case for me in the second one. In fact I think I can say that Hawkeye has moved from being outside of my radar to being one of my preferred characters. I also thought it was good that they tried to reveal more of Black Widow’s back story.
In Black Widow’s preparation to become a master assassin she has turned into what she feels is a monster. Her only chance at having a family and living a normal life also taken from her. I actually thought this was a pretty cool back story for her to overcome. I also found the relationship between her and the Hulk to be sweet and relevant. I think in this sense we could argue the other side, that many male characters could do with a little bit more emotional depth. I don’t like my characters to be perfect, it’s not interesting. Although in the long run they’re a lot stronger for having to overcome their own demons to rise up and fight. I can relate to them better for being human and it’s also more inspiring when they eventually succeed.
My main issue with the portrayal of certain characters is more to do with the fact that we’re seeing a lot of tired tropes still in use. Not all women are the same, and yet we see a fair few female characters being developed in the same way. I guess in regards to Black Widow, I don’t really relate to those feelings about motherhood; Not all women are naturally nurturing or want to have children after all. I’m not entirely sure where the boundary is for what makes an acceptable female character, but I suppose what many of us would like is simply a wider variety of character types. Even without bringing issues of sexism into this, it’s good to have such discussions so that we can learn how to tell better stories and develop deeper characters.
While the portrayal of women is definitely an issue in some cases, I don’t think Black Widow is anywhere near the worst. I can see why her role has been interpreted the way that it has, but I can’t help thinking that some of it goes down to our mindset or if we’re more attuned to noticing such faults. The damsel in distress for instance, could be seen as women shown as weak or it could be seen as a show of a man’s love for her (I’d be pretty chuffed to have a guy battle against evil just to save me.) I’m still not a fan of the trope mind, as I just can’t relate to many of those characters and I don’t exactly aspire to be like them.
Well, that was all my interpretation anyway. I don’t think any interpretation is wrong as such. I believe that when we engage with a story – despite the creators intention – we can’t help but bring a part of ourselves into how we interpret it. As individuals we’re all capable of taking away very different ideas from the same experience – Just looking at the comment section for the post shows this.