Avengers Age of Ultron, Black Widow, Joss Whedon and strong female leads

Some folks are upset with Joss Whedon because they say he made Black Widow into less of a strong female lead in Avengers Age of Ultron. I know such things can be subjective when presented through art, but these claims don’t feel like they ring true. She is more emotionally vulnerable and does develop a romantic interest toward a strong male character. But throughout these movies, Iron Man and Thor have each had romantic interest in a strong female character. No one has suggested that such vulnerability has made either of them less of strong male lead.

There is an entirely separate conversation about why there hasn’t been a Black Widow movie. Marvel is putting out as many comic book spinoff movies as it can, and has only shied away from it because it doesn’t think it would make money. Is that because her type of character isn’t suited for a standalone film? In other words, is there no Black Widow movie for the same reason there’s no Hawkeye movie? Or does Marvel fear that audiences simply wouldn’t go see a female-centered comic book movie in large enough numbers for it to pay for itself? If so, that points to sexism on the part of audiences, and is worth exploring.

But I can’t wrap my head around the idea that Black Widow is somehow less of a strong character simply because she talked about her feelings and developed a crush on someone, within a cast of characters in which most of the male leads have done the same. Are we really suggesting that a female lead has to be more stoic and emotionally impenetrable than her male counterparts just to be considered equally as strong?

Will Stabley
Will Stabley is the Founder and Senior Editor of Stabley Times.
Will Stabley