Whenever Marvel’s Black Widow character appears in the studio’s live-action movies, she gets the shaft in favor of her male Avenger counterparts. She’s always the sidekick or the love interest who requires rescue. She’s never allowed to shine (for more than one scene at a time) as her badass-assassin self. Marvel’s even afraid to include her on T-shirts, toys or other merchandise. Her fellow Avengers (kidding or not) further marginalize her with offhanded, jokey comments.
Black Widow will probably never get a solo movie, but she’ll finally get her due. Marvel Press will issue a young-adult novel, Black Widow: Forever Red, by Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Creatures). The book promises to remove Black Widow from her ongoing sidekick status. At this week’s Women in Marvel BookCon panel, Stohl spoke about the importance of the character and the rise of super spies:
“To be able to work both in the YA space and the Marvel space is a chance to bring all the things I love together into one project–and what a gift that has been! I get to write about one of the most complicated and layered and, as I’ve said, kick-ass Marvel characters of all time, gender aside. It has been more than a thrill. It’s epic. […]
Comic books are so character-driven that there is just a mountain of material, especially with any character who has been evolving for years. Black Widow is particularly fascinating to me. I’ve never thought that the most interesting things about Natasha were her romantic relationships. What is most compelling to me is her psyche, however messed up. Her iron will and her unrelenting strength. The price she’s had to pay in two countries. And of course, her backstory and her secrets. Getting inside her mind was a trip. […]
My youngest daughter, Kate, is a natural avenger, and a big Black Widow fan. I dedicated the book to her, because Natasha Romanoff would love her. Kate’s dean at school told me we should buy her a cape, and it’s true. She is never afraid to say what she thinks, and it’s my job to support and encourage those instincts. I do that for all three of my daughters. If we care about the girls in our lives, we need to empower them to speak up and demand more, demand better. We need to reinforce that they do not have to put up with things that make them feel uncomfortable or sexualized or stereotyped or small. We need to give them, and ourselves, permission to have difficult conversations, to not automatically agree with the teachers and classmates and coworkers and adults in our lives, to not say yes when we mean no. We can choose how we say it, and when, and even who we say it to. But in whatever way we can, we need to say something, no matter what.”
Black Widow: Forever Red will dive deep into the backstory of Natasha while also concentrating upon present-day events. The action-packed setting moves from New York to Eastern Europe, and the story explores Natasha’s connection with two teenage girls from Russia. There shall be no shoehorned love story in this book, which is a promising sign.
Also at Marvel BookCon, Stohl says the fans made this book happen: “My Twitter feed explodes about what people want to see from Natasha Romanov.” Perhaps this novel will give Marvel the confidence to do better things with Natasha in future movies.
Black Widow: Forever Red will arrive in stores Oct. 13.