My dad took me to see “Spider-Man” the first week of its release in 2002. I walked out of the theater feeling a little dazed; my seven-year-old self had never seen that much action, apart from the minuscule amount in films like “Mulan” and “Hercules.” It was exciting, adventurous and seemed so real. I wanted to see the movie again, because it was that movie that made me decide I was a comic book film fan.
More importantly, I was smitten with the idea of a normal person being an unlikely hero. This common theme has followed me throughout my life in many different facets, but culminates directly within my love of superhero movies. I like having someone to root for, so the unlikely hero is appealing to me. In recent years — coinciding directly with my developing feminist beliefs — it’s hard not to notice the way female superheroes are being presented: yes, they are heroes (though few in number), but it’s also stressed how unlikely these heroines are.
The most recent superhero to date was this summer’s early blockbuster, “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” As per tradition, my dad waited for me to get home from college so we could go see it together. I was struck by the portrayal of Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff, one of the (spoiler alert) two eventual female members of the Avengers. Admittedly, she was pretty hardcore, what with her lightning-fast motorcycle and her impressive wit. I was proud to see a woman hold her own among well-known male heroes, but Marvel didn’t exactly get it right.
Towards the end of the film, due to the ongoing battle with Ultron, Natasha needed to be saved.
My eyes narrowed as the familiar Disney princess damsel-in-distress trope somehow snuck its way into a high-action hero movie. Just a few scenes prior, Black Widow was stealthy, smart and Samurai-like. Now, she was trapped, wounded and waiting for a man to come free her.