Posted in Reviews

Review: Marvel’s Black Widow from Spy to Superhero by Sherry Ginn


Title: Marvel’s Black Widow from Spy to Superhero:
Essays on an Avenger with a Very Specific Skill Set

Author: Sherry Ginn

First appearing in Marvel Comics in the 1960s, Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, was introduced to movie audiences in Iron Man 2 (2010). Her character has grown in popularity with subsequent Marvel films, and fans have been vocal about wanting to see Black Widow in a titular role. Romanoff has potent appeal: a strong female character who is not defined by her looks or her romantic relationships, with the skill set of a veteran spy first for the KGB, then for S.H.I.E.L.D. This collection of new essays is the first to examine Black Widow and her development, from Cold War era comics to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Rating: 3/5

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a review.

I love the character of Black Widow in MCU and I think she deserves much better from Marvel, so I was curious about this book of essays on the character. The essays talk about her development not just in MCU but also in Marvels’ comic books. They touch on various topics: Black widow as a feminist icon, they way she uses language, what does it mean to write a ‘strong female character’, fanworks involving Black Widow etc.

Aside from the movies, I’ve only encountered Black Widow in the Ultimate Marvel Universe comic books, but the essays talk about the way she’s written since the character first appeared in 1964. It’s obvious that her characterization today is better than it was back then, but it’s nowhere near perfect – her writers still make some bad choices that are in no way progressive (Age of Ultron!!!). Also, the writers of some of those essays seem to adore Joss Whedon a bit too much.

My favorite essays were ‘Black Widow’s use of language in The Avengers’ and ‘Brainwashing and Mind control in the Whedon and Marvel universes’. Reading this book made me want a Black Widow solo movie more than ever before.


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