If Catwoman and Black Widow got in a fight, who would win? Everybody!
Superhero movies appeal to the adolescent in us but they themselves need not be adolescent. While there are few schools of thought more factionalized than feminist theory I'm going to stick my neck out and say that, basically, this has been a good summer for women in Fanboy movies.
Issues of male gaze aside (so much black latex!) we can look to Summer 2012 as a year for egalitarianism in the superhero boys' club. But of the two female badasses lacking in any fantastic powers (other than swinging a roundhouse kick in fashionable boots that sends a man two-and-a-half times heavier via air mail into the wall) who is the greatest? Lucky for you, I've got the time to think these things through.
You'd think Scarlett Johannson's Black Widow would have the leg up, appearing in two films, but, let's be real: other than having well-teased hair and changing in the back of Jon Favreau's car, her exploits in "Iron Man 2" didn't make that much of an impression. Her first scene in "Avengers," however, changed things.
The "just another day at the office" scene with against the Russian mafia was a perfect way to introduce her unflappable nature. She's quick and resourceful and can turn any situation to her favor. She's not above allowing a man's chauvinistic dismissal of her abilities, and is also sure to kick their asses in entertaining ways.
Same goes, really, for Catwoman's second big scene in "The Dark Knight Rises." (PS, I'm going to start referring to her as Selena Kyle. Nowhere in "The Dark Knight Rises" is the term Catwoman used, and I'm about to lay down why this woman deserves our respect.)
Kyle is similarly cornered by imposing goons, but she's swift in turning the tables. Unlike with Black Widow, however, the big showdown goes according to an intricately designed plan. (PS, I'm going to continue to call her Black Widow because I'm still not certain if she prefers Natalie Rushman or Natasha Romanoff.) By batting her eyelashes Kyle secured insurance in her drunk Congressman "date," and is quick to improv some additional distressed-damsel action as she sneaks out of the bar past the police.
For sharp thinking, I'd consider them a draw.
They also both prove their mettle with adaptability to technology. Kyle doesn't blink before she hops aboard the souped-up, physics defying batpod and Black Widow stands right alongside Dr. Erik Selvig on Tony Stark's roof futzing with the wormhole thingamabob. No shrinking violets around busy electronics are either of these women.
For sheer bravery, it's another toss-up. One of the biggest cheer moments in a film loaded with cheer moments is Widow leaping to the sky to hitch a ride along a Chitauri space scooter then proceeding to beat the crap out of him.
Kyle, on the other hand, rushes back to Bruce Wayne's punctured side by crashing through the side of a building and zapping big bad Bane back to his pit of despair. (Cue Muffled Bane voice: Ouuuuuuuuch! That hurrrrrrrrt!)
No one - not even the most immature "girls are icky" emotionally stunted doofus will spend a fraction of a second waiting for the "real action" to reconvene when these women are center stage. That, embarrassingly small potatoes though that may be, is a step in the right direction.
The time is nigh, I say, for a female superhero flick. While I've long advocated for a "Black Widow and Hawkeye" as an appropriate baby step, "The Dark Knight Rises" proves that ScoJo isn't some magic bullet. The days of "Elektra" and that horrendous "Catwoman" are over. With a good script and a good director that treats women as equals (though with their own uniquely feminine powers) we can break this last barrier once and for all.
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