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A Simple Age of Ultron Observation: Black Widow Has Had Her Turn With Almost Every Avenger By Now

Posted on the 10 April 2015 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

Spoiler warning, Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and Scarlet Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff are going to hook up in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Well, not necessarily hook up, but there will definitely be some flirtation and perhaps even a kiss. At one point, that news qualified as a legitimate spoiler like when Age of Ultron was still filming and LatinoReview got a look at the script and shouted, “Banner and Black Widow are definitely into each other. Very Buffy and Angel stuff. Very Joss Whedon.” Since then, Joss Whedon told Digital Spy that Banner and Romanoff have “something about the two of them that neither can deny,” with Mark Ruffalo describing the pair as “kindred spirits.” Almost all of the trailers have featured some kind of hint of a Black Widow/Hulk relationship, be it a glimpse of Natasha almost kissing Bruce or locking hands with Hulk in the battlefield. Now, Entertainment Weekly has a big Age of Ultron cover story in which Whedon “explains why he decided to play matchmaker for the Big Green Guy and the Black Widow,” especially since it’s the first time “any of the actual Avengers have been tempted to fish off the company pier.”

Age of Ultron Black Widow Bruce Banner

Ruffalo is around 17 years older than Johansson, but we have no idea how old their characters are supposed to be

Wait.  Wasn’t Black Widow just paired off with Steve Rogers in Captain America: Winter Soldier?  Before that, she got red in her ledger over Hawkeye in The Avengers where she also developed some kind of understanding and sympathy for Bruce Banner? And way back to her beginnings in the Marvel Cinematic Universe she was showing off her curves in leopard skin print-tops and pencil-thin skirts to tempt Tony Stark (and consequently annoy Pepper Potts) in Iron Man 2. The only one left for her to get to is Thor.  Jane Foster might need to keep the ole God of Thunder on a short leash (assuming Jane and Thor are still together by the start of Age of Ultron).

iron_man_2_92 I’m being slightly facetious. Black Widow’s flirtations with Tony Stark were part of her undercover work, and the nature of her relationship with Hawkeye is ill-defined at best. It need not actually be romantic, simply fellow soldiers with a rapport, although the internet did let out a sigh of “Ahhhhh!” when it realized Scarlet Johansson wears a necklace which is a subtle homage to Hawkeye throughout Winter Soldier:


If you can’t tell, that necklace from Winter Soldier on the right side is of an arrow since Hawkeye is an archer.

Of course, the runner throughout Winter Soldier has Romanoff playing matchmaker for Rogers by suggesting potential girlfriends to help him finally move on from WWII girlfriend Peggy Carter. Her matchmaking efforts and his continual resistance could have easily served as precursor to the pair accepting their mutual attraction to each other, Rogers realizing the girl he wants to ask out is her (and Romanoff realizing she wants to say yes if he asks). She’s a “from the bad side of the streets” type, he’s a “clean cut captain of the football team” type. Classic opposites attract coupling, right? However, Winter Soldier refuses to follow through on it, playing their first kiss for obvious humor (I choose to believe that Natasha was in fact the first girl he’d kissed since Peggy, despite what he says) instead of any kind of “You felt something, didn’t you?” drama. The film seems to ultimately reason that as a world-class spy and assassin Romanoff lacks a central identity, making her incompatible with Captain America’s 1940s morality and sensibilities, just as he at one point jokes about not being ready for a girl with tattoos and piercings. So, the film ends with Romanoff delivering an innocent kiss on the cheek to Rogers, Johansson playing the moment with a tinge of sadness, as if in regret over what might have been.

CapWidowKiss2FThat worked and made sense in the context of The Winter Soldier just as it logically follows that Romanoff and Banner might have a little spark in Age of Ultron after the vulnerability they displayed to each other in the first Avengers. However, does all of this maybe suggest that Scarlet Witch can’t get here soon enough? Or the Carol Danvers Captain Marvel? Or maybe a version of The Wasp from Ant-Man? That’s not to say that these new girls can step in and flirt with the male Avengers now that Black Widow’s already had her turn with almost all of them, or that if Scarlet Witch ends up in a relationship with The Vision ala the comics that it will somehow be bad for feminism. It’s more that the individual Avengers all have their love interests (Tony and Pepper, Thor and Jane, Cap and Peggy/Sharon), but when they gather together the only female character around is Black Widow and, lurking much further in the background, Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill, who many probably simply think of as Robin from How I Met Your Mother since that’s preferable to trying to remember her character name in the Avengers universe. With so few options, it’s only natural that the architects behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe would tease Black Widow as a potential love interest for all the guys since she’s the only one outside of Hawkeye who hasn’t had her own solo movie which would have granted her a set of unique characters, like Jane and Darcy for Thor.

Thor Sif Fire

Heck, Thor also has the Warriors 3 and quasi-love interest Sif

So, Black Widow drifts in and out of the other Avengers’ characters movies, and when Joss Whedon gears up to explain how awesome it’s going to be see Natasha and Bruce explore something together in Age of Ultron you can’t help but think, “Haven’t we kind of seen that already?”

Julianna Grey of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency hilariously argued after the success of the first Avengers that the job of “the Token Female Member” of an action-adventure team “is to kick,” but it’s apparently also to be a potential romantic partner for just about anyone. Here are my favorite parts of Grey’s essay, which she wrote from the point of view of the “token female member,” some of her observations applying to Black Widow, some not:

I wear black leather pants. I wear spike-heeled boots. When I kick, I pivot like a Goth ballerina and drive a heel into a villain’s face. But I’m also smart, probably some kind of scientist. Psychology. Genetics. My lab coat sweeps like a silk chemise across my thighs. Mostly I kick. I can throw a knife with pinpoint accuracy. I am a wizard at ziplines. I probably know how to drive a car, but my male team members always take the wheel, while I follow on a motorcycle, leaning low over the bars, my eyes focused, my ass taut and hovering just above the seat. I do not wear a helmet, and my hair streams behind me.

Really, my hair is impractically long for all of my action work, but somehow it never blows in my face. Strands of it never get stuck in my mouth. I’m just not an awkward, messy-haired, wobbly-in-heels, I’d-rather-put-on-my-yoga-pants-and-watch-Netflix kind of woman.

My male team members may have been skeptical of me at first, but I’ve earned their respect. I achieved this by fighting one of them. This fight ended with me pinning the man to the floor, straddling him, panting through my half-parted lips. And now? Total respect.

There is some sexual tension between me and the handsome team leader, but we both know better than to cross that line. It would never work out between us; he’s too driven and haunted by the ghosts of his past. I’m an orphan who had to get tough fast to make my way in the world. Sometimes I catch him admiring the way my leather pants and top — is that a jacket? a bustier? — hug my curves, but we keep it professional.

Maybe I’m a physicist. That would make sense, because my roundhouse kicks can only be the result of intensive, government-funded study. Seriously, I’m like a goddamn human gyroscope. A gyroscope that kicks you in the face.

I can hot-wire a car. I’m a hacker. I can take a punch. When a trickle of blood runs fetchingly from the corner of my mouth, it matches my lipstick.

I almost never cry, but when I do — when I witness an act of cruelty towards a child, and my icy veneer briefly cracks — I weep only a single tear. I angrily dash it away, hoping my teammates haven’t noticed.

But mostly I kick.

You can read Grey’s full essay at McSweeney’s.

Avengers: Age of Ultron opens internationally April 22nd and domestically May 1st.

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