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Black Widow: A New Kind of Superhero Movie

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

There’s something dark and twisted about Black Widow that we don’t see in other Marvel movies. It’s the absence of any supernatural threats that seems to make the movie stand out from similar superhero movies. Marvel is known for villains like Thanos, an extraterrestrial villain from a fantasy planet hellbent on destroying half of humanity. But in Black Widow, the main villain is a government official from the Soviet Union who is kidnapping young girls and forcing them to endure brutal treatment to become assassins. The premise is just as scary, but it still feels different. 

Personally, I love Marvel movies. But sometimes it can be hard to empathize with the characters because some of their supernatural situations don’t feel very real. When I sat in the theater watching Black Widow this past summer, I felt a real connection to the movie. It felt more mature than other Marvel movies I’d seen. The opening credits caught my attention immediately. It featured images of the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War with clips of young Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) and her sister being kidnapped. It was profound and poignant and also felt darker and more complex, like a work of historical fiction rather than a fantasy superhero movie. 

That dark theme continued throughout the movie, where we learn that Natasha Romanoff was a victim of an organization that kidnapped other young girls and trained them to be assassins. We learn that the women and girls were being mind-controlled and had most of their autonomy stripped from them so they could become robotic killing machines. This idea of young girls being used as objects and being controlled by powerful men isn’t far removed from reality. And that’s what made the movie feel much scarier. It felt more like an exaggerated reflection of our world than an escape from reality. 

On a lighter note, the movie also provides us with plenty of complex female characters. Too often in action films, we see women that represent an unattainable version of powerful femininity. The women are strong and tougher than their competition but they’re also too flawless, and they don’t feel nuanced enough to be relatable. In this movie, all the main female characters are incredibly strong but they’re also real. They’re flawed and they have to deal with their struggles and problems. Overall, they don’t seem like a fake version of strong women created by studio executives. Yelena, Natasha’s sister, is a trained assassin who is arguably the most important character in the film. She’s complex as she’s a resilient woman who’s faced struggles all her life, but she’s also unafraid to be vulnerable. She didn’t have to be a fortress of a woman and the movie allowed her to break down and express the emotions that she concealed for so long. And this vulnerability only made her character better, it wasn’t seen as a flaw or a problem. In the end, she attempts to sacrifice herself for the greater good, a feat that she would’ve accomplished if not for her strong sisterly bond with Natasha. This sisterly bond is the true love story of this movie. Yelena and Natasha’s reconnection after all the years they were separated and all the shared trauma they endured is more meaningful than any typical romantic love story. 

So if you haven’t seen Black Widow, I encourage you to go watch it. It’s a great movie and hopefully it will continue to get the recognition it deserves.

Ellie Owen

Denison '25

Hey, I'm Ellie and I'm a freshman from Silver Spring, Maryland. I'm so excited to be a part of HerCampus at Denison because I'm passionate about writing! In my free time, I like to watch movies, dance and hang out with friends.
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