The Avengers: Widow’s Sting

Black Widow

Heey, DiNozzo…

Sorry to interrupt our Star Trek program, DiNozzo. I felt like making a new point about a previously mentioned film today. Can you guess what movie that is?

Of course you can. The picture was a big fat give away. Yes, I’m talking about the Black Widow.

What do you know about the Black Widow – other than she is a stunningly beautiful woman capable of killing anyone she chooses? Yes, she’s pretty. Yes, she’s deadly…

No, she does too have super powers!!! Good grief, if I hear someone say that Widow has no super powers one more time, I just might hit them!! Does no one know how to do research anymore?! Black Widow was originally a super spy for the U.S.S.R. That’s right, the U.S.S.R., the government that only collapsed some twenty years back! She was a very young girl when Cap was still fighting the Nazis and HYDRA.

She’s looking exceptionally good for an eighty year old woman, nyet, Tony?

The Soviets gave Widow – and several other young girls – their variant of Captain America’s Super Soldier Serum. It didn’t work the exact same way that his serum did but it does make Widow much faster, stronger, and smarter than a ‘normal’ human woman. It also dramatically slows how she ages as well as radically reducing her susceptibility to infections and drugs. This makes it hard for her to get drunk, but unlike Cap she actually can get drunk. It simply takes longer for her to get soused than it would for a normal woman. The biggest difference between Cap’s serum and Widow’s serum is that Widow’s serum has rendered her unable to have children.

I would think the scene between her and Bruce Banner, where she pulls her leg free of the rather heavy debris that pinned her after Hawkeye detonates his arrow next to the lab, would be a dead giveaway that Natasha Romanoff was not ‘normal.’

Apparently it wasn’t. (Deep sigh of frustration.)

Okay. Now that I got that irritation out of the way; at the beginning of Marvel’s The Avengers, we see the Black Widow ostensibly being interrogated. However, when Agent Coulson calls and tells her they need her back at base ASAP, we find out that she is actually the one doing the interrogating. She has led the bad guys to begin boasting about their operations while they think they are frightening her witless.

Later on she pulls a similar trick; she visits Loki in his cell aboard SHIELD’s floating base, the Helicarrier, supposedly to make a deal for her partner Hawkeye’s life.

When watching these two scenes, I have to admit that at first I could not figure out what Widow was doing. It was not quite so hard to guess during the scene where she was being ‘interrogated;’ I have seen such a style of information gathering before. Oddly enough, you were the one who proved it, Tony, that time you went to rescue Ziva with McGee and Gibbs’ help.

But the second time around, where she tries to get Loki to release Hawkeye, I admit I was baffled. All I could think was, “You are way too smart to trust him as far as you can throw him. You know he won’t let Hawkeye go and if he does that he’ll probably kill you both. What are you trying to do?”

No, I was not mentally shouting these statements at the top of my mental lungs, DiNozzo! I was staring at the big screen trying to guess her angle, because she had an angle. She got Loki to tip his hand and let a page of his playbook slip out, at which point she grabbed it and ran.

This is more proof, if any were needed, that Loki is not as brilliant as he thinks himself to be. Not only is he outwitted in this scene by a ‘mortal’ – he is outwitted by a mortal woman! Nevertheless, he does hit a nerve, one of the few Widow has.

What nerve is that? That nerve, DiNozzo, was brought up by the Black Widow herself. Before working for SHIELD, Widow was a spy for the Russian government; specifically the fictional ‘Red Room’ operations. I don’t know if this part of her character history has crossed over into the films exactly, but it seems to have done so. If it has, then this is what it means: Black Widow was raised, from the time she could walk and talk, to be a “liar and a killer,” as Loki so daintily put it in their interview.

In the commentary about The Avengers, Joss Whedon, the writer and director of the movie, mentions that he thinks there is a darkness about the Black Widow, a darkness that the other characters lack. Even Hawkeye is not as ‘dark’ as Natasha Romanoff. During his brief appearance as an Avenger, Hawkeye cracks jokes and smiles, genuinely smiles, several times. I am sure you remember the point I made in my post ‘Romantic’ Tension?’ about why he was so upset upon being freed from Loki’s control. One may accuse Hawkeye of many things, but lacking the ability to differentiate between right and wrong is not one of them.

Widow is different; when she jokes, she does not smile. Or if she does, it is a very thin, flat smile. The one scene where she truly smiles is where she tells Hawkeye, “Now you sound like you,” after he suggests he would “sleep better” if he put an arrow in Loki’s eye socket. Humph, considering what Loki did at the party in Germany, there’s irony for you. Maybe that’s why Hawkeye selected the Asgardian’s eye socket as an appropriate target.

Even in this little scene Widow’s smile, though genuine, is small. Why is this?

As mentioned, Widow was raised to be a “liar and a killer.” Although she successfully interrogates Loki, the Asgardian weasel still gets his teeth into her on one point: she is not an angel, and she never will be.

Widow told Loki that she “got on SHIELD’s radar in a bad way” due to her “very specific skill set.” As she says, she “didn’t care what you stood for – or on.” If someone was marked by her higher-ups as a target, they were walking dead. Widow would have them six feet under in no time. Loki was not kidding when he said her ‘ledger’ was “dripping, gushing with red.”

This, I believe, is the darkness that Whedon sees in the Black Widow. Widow was a merciless, remorseless assassin; she killed and she did not care. If Hawkeye had not recruited her into SHIELD, she would be dead, both physically and spiritually.

By this I mean that, before joining SHIELD, Widow was a monster. She had no conscience; no sense of right and wrong. Something happened when she met Hawkeye that changed her. We have yet to learn what this was and how it happened. Frankly, I doubt anyone in Hollywood will try to find out what happened, though Whedon may surprise me. If Marvel’s willing, I would gladly give them a hand with it; I enjoy both Hawkeye and Black Widow and would be very happy to see them get their due in the cinemas.

But nobody has asked me yet. Nobody has ever asked me.

Anyway, in their interview, Loki threw Widow’s dark past in her face. It hurt. She was not entirely feigning her reaction to his words; he knew things about her he should not have known. She escaped that darkness, that life of remorseless destruction, true. But she escaped it with help. If she falls into the darkness a second time, can she be sure she’ll be able to get back up? And, more importantly, will she even be given the chance to get back up?

We have been through this before. Hawkeye saved Widow’s life. But he also saved more than that. He saved her soul. This is why she tells Loki, “Love is for children. I owe him a debt.” She owes Hawkeye, Clint Barton, not simply her life but her soul. Before joining SHIELD, Widow did not have a soul. Now she does, a point Loki does not catch when he tells her that she is no better than the “liars and killers” she serves.

He is right, in a minor way. Widow has proved herself unable to tell the truth (in more than a few words) on at least one occasion that I can name. This incident occurs when Widow goes to Calcutta to pick up Bruce Banner/The Hulk. Once she meets him, she tells Banner that she came to see him alone and weaponless. These statements are later proved false when Banner frightens her by shouting and hitting the table between them. Not only does Widow take out a gun strapped to the bottom of the table and point it at him, she then has to tell her security team (which is waiting outside the hovel) to stand down after Banner apparently calms down and apologizes for scaring her.

Obviously, this is not a good way to start a friendship. Especially with someone who can turn into a nine foot tall, one thousand pound green “rage monster” at will.

All the same, Widow did not lie when, after Banner asks if all spies start out as young as the girl she sent to fetch him, she answers, “I did.”

And this is where Loki is wrong. Widow is not Nick Fury (we’ll get to the big Eye Patch another time). Widow no longer kills to get the job done. This was seen in Iron Man 2, when she stopped Justin Hammer’s security guards, and during her interrogation of the Russian crime boss in The Avengers. She demonstrated in her escape that taking the three Russians down was not hard for her. But she refrained from killing her would-be torturers. Obviously Widow now avoids killing where she once would have done it without a second thought. That is why she joins the war against Loki at the end of The Avengers.

It is not just because he ruined her best friend’s day.

It is not just because Loki has promised to kill her and the other Avengers.

It is not just because Loki wants to remake the world in his image.

It is not just because she’s been emotionally “compromised.”

It’s because she has a soul, and she is not going to lose it a second time.

So I have three warnings for Loki. One: Come back to Midgard and Hawkeye will kill him out of hand, on the spot, no remorse. Two: Failing number one, the Avengers are going to send him packing – again. Three:

If none of the guys get him, Loki had better watch his back; because at some point Widow may just put a knife in it. And no one is going to cry over it except him.

And maybe Thor. But that will depend on what happens in Thor: The Dark World. If he ticks his big brother off enough, Loki may want to beg Hawkeye to kill him after all.

That said, this is my take on the Black Widow of Marvel’s film franchise. You can disagree with it.

Yes, yes, I know – or you can continue to state emphatically that she is beautiful. You know something, DiNozzo? You are positively hopeless.

Later,

Mithril

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About The Mithril Guardian

I like stories.  Whether they’re on film, in song, or in print, I always remember a good story.  They remind me of paintings.  People cannot see them without learning something.  So it’s a good idea to look at a story from as many angles as possible.  I can watch the same movie a million times and still I will learn something that I did not know before.  Thoughts on the Edge of Forever is where I get to focus on what I learned from stories; what was not obvious the first time, the second time, or the umpteenth time. Earlier posts are written in the form of letters, usually to specific characters, to point out what I saw in a particular story or heard in a piece of music. Some of those letters, though, are like letters to the editor. Why did someone write a story this way and not another? Would the story have turned out better if the writer had done something different? These ‘letters to the editor’ will probably never be answered by the writers - the characters certainly will not answer anything - but their contents are still up for debate. After all, unless you ask a question, you will never get an answer. Still, civil ground rules apply. Any foul language or other form of abuse will not be tolerated in Thoughts on the Edge of Forever. I mean, who wants to be around the guest at the dinner party who is being nasty? Practically nobody, since people go to a party to have fun, not to hang around a grouch. So let’s have fun! The Mithril Guardian
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