Age of Ultron spoilers ahead! Ye be warned!
So, in my unsorted Age of Ultron thoughts, you might notice I didn’t say anything about that scene. You know the one. That scene.
You know, the scene where Natasha Romanoff comes clean to Bruce Banner, the man she loves, about the horrors done to her in her past, and how because of those she feels unworthy, less than, inhuman–a monster. That moving scene where she told him something about herself she had never confessed to anyone, that scene that broke my heart a little bit because the cold, merciless logic of her tormentor-teacher-brainwashers in taking from a young woman the ability to bear children, to live beyond the mission and live for someone outside herself, was indeed impeccable, and because the person so dreadfully damaged by this wrong done to her is Natasha, whom we’ve (or at least I’ve) grown to love throughout her journey from SHIELD agent to Avenger. You know, that scene.
That scene where Scarlett Johannson and Mark Ruffalo gave beautiful, heart-felt performances, bringing more layers of depth and warmth and pain and humanity to their characters. That beautifully lit, beautifully shot scene of quiet horror, the one that in the midst of a superhero movie about punching killer robots in the face nearly brought me to tears of pity and woe. That one.
I didn’t realize that scene was not okay, that it wasn’t okay for me to like it and it wasn’t okay for Joss Whedon to have written it. I didn’t realize that a female character expressing sorrow that she was tortured and forcibly sterilized was no longer okay, because … feminism? I’m really confused. Why is it not okay?
It reminds me of a writer’s blog I sailed past awhile back; the writer was talking about trying to figure out some new, fresh kind of motivation for a female character. So not, because she’s in love, or because she wants to protect her children. Something not stereotypical. And I thought, “But … women fall in love. Women want to protect their children, or to have children to protect in the first place. And that’s okay.”
It’s okay. It’s okay for a woman to want children. That’s not anti-feminist. It’s okay for a woman to have children. Still not anti-feminist. It is definitely okay for a woman to be sad that she can’t have children. It is especially okay for a woman to be sad that she can’t have children if she was forcibly sterilized. Guys, gals, advanced artificial intelligences, extragalactic visitors, it is even okay for a woman to be sad about all of the above if she is Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, super spy par excellence.
You know what’s not okay? Dumping internet hatred on the writer who gave his female character these feelings, this background, this motivation. If you must hate, and be outraged, and vilify someone, try the people in the real world who do torture young women, for real, mutilating them and destroying forever their chance at motherhood. Hate those guys.
And don’t just hate. Do something. Because this world doesn’t have a Tony Stark to blow the bad guys up, or a Captain America to whack them with a shield, or a Thor to smite them with righteous lightnings, or even a Natasha Romanoff to scissor-kick them and flip them upside down while the frame goes all sideways. It’s up to us. We’re the only heroes we’ve got.