DID YOU READ

Can We Get a Black Widow Movie?

Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers

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Can we get a Black Widow movie up in this? Most of the Avengers – Hulk, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man – are bankable franchises. And fans of those franchises, to be sure, put their butts in seats to the record-breaking tune of a $200 million opening weekend, beating the previous opening record held by Harry Potter’s final installment. So: obviously there are going to be sequels; we are in a golden age of comic book movies.

That having been said, of all the Avengers, the Black Widow – Natasha Romanoff – was, to me and to others, the most interesting. Granted, this blogger has a thing for gorgeous women who can kick ass. And The Black Widow is one of the toughest and most interesting characters ever to come out of comic books. As Karina Longworth noted in her largely unfavorable view of The Avengers in The Village Voice (you can’t win ‘em all), The Black Widow is the true standout character. “The Avengers hints that this former Russian spy with ‘a very specific skill set’ has a complicated backstory—sordid and shameful, perhaps, but also rife with transformative drama, suggesting an arc that’s much more interesting than anything the characters travel here.”

My favorite incarnation of Natasha Romanoff, who’s backstory is indeed shameful and sordid but also quite interesting, is the Frank Miller run. Frank Miller, now famous as a screenwriter (RoboCop2), a co-director (Sin City, with Robert Rodriguez), and producer (300) is also famous for his Noir-ish comic book art and dark stories. Miller inked this gritty, infinitely beautiful series of Daredevil comics in which Widow and The Man Without Fear team up to fight a shadowy underworld cult organization of Ninjas known as “The Hand.” There is black magic and lots of arrows and poisoned throwing stars and martial arts involved. The storyline reached its apex in the iconic Daredevil #188, which, this blogger cannot fail to note, is one of the most breathtakingly cinematically scripted graphic novels.

Few Marvel characters are as ready-made for a film franchise as Natasha Romanoff, who appeared, all too briefly, in Iron Man 2. At various points in her comic book life Black Widow has been a villain – an antagonist of Iron Man – a secret agent on both sides during the Cold War, and, finally, as a superhero. She has been used – as a pawn in a complex geopolitical chess match – by the East and the West. Her motive for being a superhero is redemption.

Like Captain America and Wolverine, Romanoff has lived a longer-than-human-lifespan, getting mixed up in both World War II and the Cold War. One telling of her origin goes back to the 1940s where she, as a child, was rescued from the Nazis by Captain America. Then things go murky, and she is lost – mixed up with the KGB. She was trained as the ultimate spy in “The Red Room” – the former Soviet Union’s answer to the Super Soldier program that gave us the red-white and blue bedecked Captain America. In the 60s, Natasha wore a veil and evening gowns, a sort of cheesy parody of the scarlet-haired Russian spy/ vixen. Now, in her final incarnation — a skin tight black suit and golden wrist bands that fire deadly energy beams — she is an Olympic caliber athlete highly trained in all forms of the martial arts that is seeking redemption for her past sins. Does this not sound like a story made for Hollywood?

Also: Scarlett Johansson would be wildly interested in the role. “I love her origin story,” Johansson told CBS News. “I think it’s just such a riveting one. It’s just steeped in history and the richness to shoot in Russia, perhaps … I hope that the fans’ voice is loud enough and they want to see a Widow origin story, I know Marvel would be happy to entertain that. We’ve spoken a lot about it.”

Clearly, movies based on comic book characters are not going away, not with this kind of money on the table. Even actors – like Patrick Dempsey in the case of a possible Dr. Strange movie – are making sort-of-public appeals, perhaps in the hope of getting a social media groundswell going. I’d like to add my voice to Scarlett Johansson’s sexy rasp in saying that we need to make a Black Widow origin story.

And while we are on the subject of beautiful women who could kick our asses and are former secret agents: Could we get a Spider-Woman movie up in this as well? Just saying, yo.

Would you like to see a Black Widow movie? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.