‘Black Widow’ Versus The World-Part 1: Meanings & Themes

Warning: This will contain spoilers.

Also, this series is dedicated to my best friend, Marissa–who’s nickname is Romanov.

I finally was able to watch Black Widow this week. I am glad of this, though. I was able to watch it alone, with all my girlhood, womanhood and writer self all in the same room. In watching Infinity War: Endgame, I (like every other MCU fan) was horrified at the loss of Natasha, rather than Clint, to get the Soul Stone.

Yes, I still feel away about this. But, let’s go on.

I have daughters whom are dedicated Marvel fans, and they were born during Phase 3! So, seeing–knowing!–that Natasha ‘Nat’ Romanov was getting her own movie–and Scarlett Johanssen was going to have Executive Producer credit? With a female director? For a Marvel movie? Oh, yes! Game changing! There is definitely a distinct difference when a woman directs a movie and when a man does. But, this? Oh, but this. Here are some of my take aways–and things that you might not have paid attention to.

1.) The rampant nature of the abuse of women and girls. All through the movie, we see just how easy it is to hurt women and girls. When Nat and Yelena run from the small force of Widows who come for them, one falls off the roof and breaks her tibia. She is told by the Red Room to terminate (kill herself). Though Nat tries to help, her free will has been hijacked. This also speaks to how suicide is till a problem among women, and how we can somehow feel as if no one can help us.

2.) Black women and girls are often the victims of human trafficking. Although the African-American/Widows whom are Black don’t have dominant screen time, but it points to just how easy it is to erase Black women and girls–and how no one looks for us, if they don’t look for us. There is also the creepy and telling line that Drestov says regarding how the world has too many girls, inferring they (read: we) are a wasted resource. Throwaways. Natasha hints to this as well as she confronts him before destroying the Red Room.

3.) Sexualizing of young women and girls. If you have watched the evolution of Black Widow’s outfits through the Avengers movies, you will notice just how her costume changed. How cleavage, and her figure were emphasized. I This movie, the uniforms at it were, are form-fitting, yes–but they are not overtly sexual.

4.) How we (the world) expects girls be self-sacrificing. From the first time Natasha kicks the gun out of the soldier’s hand to protect Yelena, Yelena blowing up the engine on the plane, we see that girls are ornamental, only being functional for a common goal or end. The theme of personhood, freedom, free will and the ownership of self are woven throughout the movie.

5.) We teach girls that pain is what strengthens them. Melina tells Natasha, “Don’t let them take your heart.” This is one of those sayings that I believe encourages girls to stay in tune with their emotions–they make you human. In the run of Black Widow through Phase 3, we do not see Natasha breakdown. We do not see her unravel! The last tears (or first tears) we see of Natasha was when she was crying in this mix of fear, rage and disbelief if was around her sister, Yelena. In becoming a woman, there are outrageous things that will happen to girls and in order to cope–we shut off.

We detach. We stuff down. We shift. We lie. We hide. We run. We self-destruct!

Melina’s reminder, even from this staged motherhood, is a reminder that shutting off never works–and should never been the long-term solution.

6.) Trauma bonding. “I cycled through the Red Room four times before you were born. Those walls are all I know.” When Alexei, Yelena, and Natasha find Melina we see just how trauma is two-fold, yet the same: how we hold together and what holds us together! From Yelena and Natasha fighting in Budapest, Melina alerting the Red Room where they are, Red Guardian bonding all his identity to Captain America (Steve Rogers), and the freed Widows not knowing what to do after being given said freedom. Trauma is unavoidable, unsustainable…but unavoidable.

7.) When women work together, they can do anything. What I loved about this movie–yes, loved!–is the relationship between Yelena and Natasha. I loved how Melina gave Natasha the rundown of the Red Room while prepping her what she’s about to face, and even how Taskmaster–Antonia, Drekov’s daughter–had to be freed from her own father and his desire to dominate women. The takeaway–when women of all walks of life work together–we can topple the toxic patriarchy.

Natasha Romanov deserved, and still deserves, so much more.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Remembering ‘BLACK PANTHER’

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It was three years ago this week that I saw Black Panther on Opening Night. I saw it with my second husband, and sat in the push AMC seat with him and was transported to Wakanda for the very first time. There was magic seeing Chadwick Boseman on screen as T’Challa–I had never seen a Black superhero on screen before! I had seen Blade of course, and Wesley Snipes owned all pieces of that role! But this, this was different. It had an ancestral feel, and during the middle of the movie, I almost cried. At the end of the movie after hearing young Black men discussing fan Marvel Comics fan theory? I threw my arms around them! It was glorious. Simply glorious.

One of the last things we did as a family was take my daughters to see this movie. The complete delight on their faces as they watched, I cannot quite describe. It indeed was a cultural moment worthy of all hype and celebration!

Then, Chadwick Boseman died.

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Long live the [our] King.

This is after telling my daughter after she was so distraught after watching The Avengers: Infinity War, “No one dies in the Marvel Universe.” I told her that to dry her tears, only to have her collapse in my bed almost three years later, knowing that the actor who brought him to life is dead. How do you reconcile that?

As a mother, I need what to say to make her okay. As an artist, I am still grieving. When this reminder came through my memories, I was taken back to Opening Night. I remember getting ready to music, thinking about my outfit, and even what earrings to wear. I wanted to be pretty and pretty effing hot. What strikes me now are the hidden conversations: recasting, the sequels, plans going forward. In the comics, Princess Shuri takes the mantle of Black Panther. There was even talk of Black Panther (T’Challa) should not be recast. And I won’t lie to you, I was on that same bandwagon! I wanted the role to stay sacrosanct! Don’t cast anyone else as T’Challa! Then, I ventured into one of my Blerd groups. Those hidden converasations ceased to be whispers, and I realized how silly (and selfish) I was being:

“But, there have been how many actors who have been Batman? Superman? How many have been Spider-Man?”

The Extraordinary Journey of a Black Nerd Group

When I sat and thought about it, and thought about it as a writer? The creator of that post and those commenting on it were right. The best way we honor Chadwick is to make sure the character doesn’t die with him. Chadwick is immortal and integral to the MCU, and with still so much left to do–but he left us so much.

The little girl in me is grieving, but the writer in me is elated. I want to see what more can come from these characters! I want to see what Ryan Coogler or even Nia DaCosta come up with as possible directors for these new movies! I want to see what the writers, storyboard artists, CGI teams come up with. I want to see what happens next. As the old hymn goes, “I feel like going on.” I want to see what happens next–I must see what happens next. My hope is the staff and all teams involved will honor the source material, current standards and push past all doubt and give us he sequel we all need! I for one, cannot wait.

[image from imdb.com and mediavillage.com]

SABEM The Wrap Up- Feeling Like ‘Endgame’

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“Part of the journey is the end.”

-Anthony Edward ‘Tony’ Stark aka Iron-Man (Robert Downey, Jr.)

 

The Bible says, “Better is the end of a thing, than the beginning.” Here, I am inclined to agree. This part of my journey took twenty years. The guesstimation for a generation is about 20 years–18 is still considered and adult, legal and sentient. This portion of my life is over. I am now a dual-degreed and making my own way in the world. Radically believing in myself.

I had to fight the voices that come up with such celebration, wondering what other people would think of say. I had to remind myself these people do not matter! They will always have something to say. Partly because it’s me, the other part is people need something to talk about. Always. But I am in process of forgiving my own doubt, my own hesitations, or believing other people’s dream for my life rather than my own.

I understand what I am building, what I desire to do, will require tenacity, patience and care. I realize that there is a portion of me which will be out of step with the world around me; I will always have a tendency to see beyond what other people do. I had to become okay with a strange type of duality. I had to be okay with doing the practical and the magical!

The practical has the day job, pays bills, and is a bomb partner and spouse. The magical still dreams of making art, writing books, and sacrifices sleep to build the things she sees! The magical is so incredible that you will  chase after it–it is the pot of goal at the end of the rainbow. I am chasing the rainbow…and have caught one.

It is easy to go ahead and be angry, be mad, and lament for time lost. But, chose not to do that. I am choosing to celebrate today. I am choosing to make this a point of light and transition today. I am choosing to breathe deep and go forward. I will not entertain the madness of people who have no aspirations of their own. I will not feed in to the ideology of “You can’t eat with this degree.” I have found the thing my heart has longed to do, continues to do and needs to do.

The next stop, the next leg of the writer-teacher-scholar journey is graduate school. I am blessed to have started by professional network. I have a main mentor, whom looks like me. I have access to women whom can answer my questions, and point me towards organizations that I need to join or be aware of. I have been given opportunities to do what I have been graced to do–know to do. There is a power I have gleaned now which now allows me, frees me, to be both Alpha Femme, and a lady. This thing, this degree, is a polish. An addition to the uncovering of that which it is I want, and desire to do.

This is the end of a part, not the whole. The whole is still being revealed, still being shone, still processing–in sharper focus than it was before. The feeling of the insistent now, the restless now, is ebbing. It doesn’t gnaw as it did before. The bites aren’t as hard, my flesh not as fulfilling to the fears housed there. I am more the woman I was supposed be than I ever was. And now, right now, I can breathe deep. And wait for what’s next.

Something is already next.

I am a mother.

I am a writer.

I am a wife.

I am a creator.

I am a scholar.

I am an activist.

I am an oracle.

I am a teacher.

I am a warrior.

I am a survivor.

I am the mother of dragons–and I breathe fire.