Disclaimer: Writing is hard and everyone is a Monday morning quarterback. I mean no disrespect to those writers and directors who created the work I’m commenting on, in fact, I have the greatest respect. Still, I can’t help but wonder, if I were writing or directing that piece, what would I do? And why? It’s purely an academic discussion.
All characters of note have an inner “wound”, an event or happenstance that informs that character’s decisions and is generally the inner hurdle they must leap before they can grow. In “Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Age of Ultron”, Written and Directed by Joss Whedon, Whedon delves into the origins of Black Widow / Natasha Romanoff and a bit of her Red Room background. He explores, in flashback, that she was sterilized upon graduation from the spy program. This is presented as her wound and throughout the film, her inner journey revolves around her pining for family and a mother/child/romantic/creepy relationship with Hulk, because, by her own words, she is a “monster” as well. It seems her reasoning for being a monster is that she cannot have children. I don’t think that counts…
It feels obvious to me to have any woman’s injury be centered around babies and childbirth, it’s low hanging fruit. Much in the same way that some writers will default to the rape/abuse wound because it makes sense to them. It’s easy, I think, when thinking about what could be a terrible thing to happen to women to default to the abuse setting, no matter how “feminist” they claim to be. The idea that Black Widow stays up at night pining for the babies she can never have feels off to me. This is a comic book movie with a kick-ass female assassin – there should be more to her than a deep rooted desire to play house.
What would I have done? If the goal here is to give her something from her past that she can drag around the present and link her to Hulk in a monsterly way, I would have gone with the indoctrination part of her training. Natasha could be considered a monster given she killed without compunction for the good of the motherland – simple as that. I would have her wound in Ultron be her shame and regret over her ability to put aside her feelings so completely that she could kill on command. Her loss of control then would link her to Hulk, who famously loses control and, it would still make her a “monster.” She would still be able to bond with Hulk and act much like a soothing mother to him would, all while keeping her womb out of it.
In fact, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” went closer to this route with her, (Thank goodness) showing, in my opinion, a more mature take on a wound. I have to say, however, they did not use her to her full advantage in CA:TWS, but that’s a different post.