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.