The Atlantic

The Inevitability of Black Widow

Why Scarlett Johansson’s superhero can’t escape her origins from the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s early days
Source: Marvel

This article contains major spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.

When the Marvel Cinematic Universe first introduced Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, it left no ambiguity as to what audiences were supposed to make of her. In the guise of a notary, with dark red hair undulating around a skintight white shirt buttoned sub-sternum, she instantly reduces both Tony Stark and Happy Hogan to peacocking putzes. Natasha Romanova was a former KGB assassin, a world-class martial artist, and (apparently) a gifted hacker, but in Iron Man 2, it was clear that she was first and foremost a sex object.

“Where’s she from?” Tony asks Pepper. “She is from legal, and she is potentially

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