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April 07 2017

Why Black Widow is the most important character in the MCU. FiveThirtyEight's analysis of Scarlett Johanson's career makes the argument that Black Widow is the main protagonist of the Avengers' storylines. "While the tanks may run interference, the real work of saving the world is Johansson's".

Interesting take on Black Widow. It will be interesting to see if/how her journey continues in future movies.
Uhm . . . so first of all, "most successful film franchise" is not at all accurate. Love me some MCU, but that's a disingenuous measurement. Straight dollar numbers, ok, yes, MCU wins. However, inflation-adjusted, Star Wars is still on top. MCU had it for a little bit, but then Force Awakens and Rogue One, and it seems those two were enough to cover the gap over the last two years. And James Bond is still apparently above MCU as well. Then there's the "highest grossing single property/storyline film franchise," a list topped by Harry Potter. Of course, that's also overlooking television, ALSO overlooking merchandise, etc, etc.

Second, the author repeatedly confuses the meanings of "advancing the plot" versus "saving the world." Yes, Widow shut down the portal, preventing the immediate escalation of the invasion of New York. Iron Man redirected the nuke that ENDED the invasion. Likewise, she stole the Vision capsule and temporarily sacrificed herself (through capture) to beat Ultron, but her wrangling of Hulk was hardly the driving force in completely defeating the enemy. An important factor, but ONLY one important factor (especially considering the fact that the theme of the movie was "overcoming our flaws and egos and conflicts to work as a team"). I will agree that she was instrumental in Winter Soldier, no arguments at all. But as for Civil War, all she did was have a change of heart in the big hero fight. It didn't really effect the final outcome of the movie AT ALL, and NO ONE really did any world saving after the opening fight with Crossbones (during which she wasn't all that effective).

Third, the claim that she's the only one who has changed and developed is simply absolutely not true. Cap developed from a patriot to a hero to a soldier in search of a war to a reluctant anti-authority freedom fighter. Iron Man changed from an arrogant rich kid to a global vigilante to a wannabe world savior to contrite guardian of order. And contrary to a lot of detractors, no, the characterization WASN'T OOC or shoehorned, these were actually reasonable and well done developments over time. Yes, Widow has definitely seen growth and change, but singling her out for it is deliberately overlooking anyone else in the series.

Now on the flip side, I do agree that she is VERY much serving the role of audience surrogate, and doing an excellent job of it. To be clear, I think she's a great character played by a fine actress, and she is vital to the series. I believe she is a great example of a strong woman in an action film, and she is LONG overdue for her own solo outing. But to paint her as the be-all, end-all hero of the entire MCU is pushing an agenda and ignoring pretty much everything else the series represents.
@Batman1016 - I totally agree with your assessment of Natasha's role in the films. I almost see her as the middle child between Tony and Steve. Steve's the oldest - technically and figuratively. Tony, being reckless and terminally self-involved is the youngest. Natasha balances both of them out nicely.

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