If you haven’t heard, there’s a bit of a commotion on the internet about Avengers: Age of Ultron, and in particular, Black Widow’s story in the movie. I’ll try to keep spoilers out of this article and be as succinct as possible. Essentially, some fans weren’t happy with Black Widow’s plot in the movie, so unhappy in fact they took to Twitter to harass Joss Whedon about what he had done to the character. The bombardment of tweets became so much that Joss left Twitter, reminding us all yet again that the internet can be a dark and callous place.
Mark Ruffalo, Bruce Banner actor and all-around good guy, did an AMA today over at Reddit, and the reaction to Black Widow’s story came up. Mark Ruffalo responded (I’ve bolded what I find to be the most important part):
I think it’s sad. Because I know how Joss feels about women, and I know that he’s made it a point to create strong female characters. I think part of the problem is that people are frustrated that they want to see more women, doing more things, in superhero movies, and because we don’t have as many women as we should yet, they’re very, very sensitive to every single storyline that comes up right now. But I think what’s beautiful about what Joss did with Black Widow – I don’t think he makes her any weaker, he just brings this idea of love to a superhero, and I think that’s beautiful.
If anything, Black Widow is much stronger than Banner. She protects him. She does her job, and basically they begin to have a relationship as friends, and I think it’s a misplaced anger. I think that what people might really be upset about is the fact that we need more superhuman women. The guys can do anything, they can have love affairs, they can be weak or strong and nobody raises an eyebrow. But when we do that with a woman, because there are so few storylines for women, we become hyper-critical of every single move that we make because there’s not much else to compare it to.
So I know Joss really well. I know what his values are. And I think it’s sad, because in a lot of ways, there haven’t been as many champions in this universe as Joss is and will continue to be. And I know it hurts him. I know it’s heavy on him. And the guy’s one of the sweetest, best guys, and I know him – as far as any man can be a champion for women, he is that.
So it’s been a little disheartening.
But I also see how much people love that aspect of it. There’s an equal amount of people who find the love interest between Banner and Black Widow to be a big standout. And it’s very satisfying to people. So it’s a movie. People are going to have their opinions. And that’s actually a great thing. The fact that this is a debate that’s coming out of this movie is probably a positive thing.
I just don’t think that people should get personal with Joss, because he really is – of anyone – an advocate for women. He’s a deeply committed feminist.
I know that I’m biased in my Whedon-fandom, but I find it frustrating that the man who wrote Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all of the amazing females on Firefly is being called anti-feminist. I think Mark Ruffalo hit the mark with his response and really, the only solution is to simply have more female superheroes in our media. With Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel dropping in the next few years, I can only hope that things will continue to head in the right direction.