Study: Black Widow the Most Hated of the Cinematic Avengers
There has been a very vocal contingent of Marvel fans clamoring for a Black Widow movie. That includes Robert Downey, Jr., Jessica Chastain and, yes, us. But, for all the people who love Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, there seems to be an equally as vocal group of fans who don’t like that character. Indeed, according to a new study, Black Widow is reportedly the most-hated of all the Avengers.
BrandWatch, a self-described “social technology” company, recently mined through all the mentions of each member of The Avengers — Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Spider-Man (not an official member yet, but with his upcoming appearance in Captain America: Civil War, he was included in their study), Nick Fury and Black Widow — and used something called “sentiment analysis” to determine how people are feeling about each character. Some fairly benign data came of it (women love Thor, nerds love talking about Spider-Man), but there was one surprising bit of information: a lot of people don’t like Black Widow.
Now, despite tracking almost 900,000 mentions on Twitter, this is hardly a large enough sample size to determine what the population, as a whole, feels towards one particular character, especially one as controversial lately as Black Widow. What is likely skewing the numbers are negative tweets about Avengers: Age of Ultron’s contentious Bruce ♡’s Natasha subplot. People seemed to really hate that. Some hated it because they felt it marginalized Natasha and a speech midway through the movie allegedly implies she’s a monster because she can’t have children. Some hated it because they are generally horrible people and have difficulty accepting strong women in the male-dominated Marvel Cinematic Universe. The outrage got so much it literally drove Joss Whedon off Twitter.
Marvel has a track record of treating its female characters poorly. Forget for a second that Marvel will have released 19 superhero movies before they release one that focuses on a female superhero (Captain Marvel in 2017), but they have removed Black Widow from Avengers toy sets (ones where she was the lead character in the movie!) and her only Age of Ultron products included a small Black Widow figure in a Disney Infinity starter pack, a shopping bag (seriously?), or a men’s t-shirt. A former Marvel employee told The Mary Sue earlier this summer that Disney doesn’t market Marvel to girls because they feel like with their Disney Princesses, “They already have the girls’ market on lockdown.”
Marvel is making some strides in the right direction, but as this study shows, it’s still tough out there for women in a world of superheroes. But, ultimately the real problem is our problem; us, as fans. We can do better and be better than this. Black Widow might not be the most perfectly realized character, but what Scarlett Johansson has done with a B-level character is nothing short of amazing. Fox has the rights to numerous great female superheroes from the X-Men universe and done almost nothing with them.
As one of the only strong female presences in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the only prominent female superhero, she deserves better than our hate.