Last month, rumors started started popping up that super spy Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff) might be appearing in Iron Man 2. Yesterday, Variety reported that Emily Blunt may be a frontrunner for the role, lending a whole lot of credence to earlier conjecture. This is potentially great news, because Black Widow might actually be a female comic book character who filmmakers can't screw up when they bring her to the big screen!
So why do I think that Black Widow might be able to avoid the pitfalls of shoddy screenwriting and stereotyping that have befallen other superheroines on screen?
Black Widow doesn't have superpowers. Black Widow is an expert martial artist, markswoman, intelligence agent, and former dancer. But despite the fact that she doesn't age much, she's not a mutant. That means her powers can't be taken away from her to amp up the emotional stakes of the film... she won't suffer the same treatment as Mystique (has there ever been a kick ass supervillian so casually tossed away?) in X-Men: The Last Stand. That also means that she won't have to choose between wielding her powers and being with a man like Rogue in X-Men: The Last Stand. Black Widow relies on her skills, and even the crappiest screenwriter can't take those away from her.
Since Black Widow doesn't have superpowers, she will never be emotionally overwhelmed by them, or become too powerful to rationally use them. If we learned anything from the way that filmmakers handled Jean Grey's transformation into Phoenix in X-Men: The Last Stand (ok, yes, I have issues with that movie), it's that women can't handle their power - and when they get too powerful, they turn into overwrought witches.
Black Widow is not going to be reduced to a bridezilla. Remember Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer? Yeah, that's the movie in which Invisible Woman Sue Storm tried to put saving the world on hold because she wanted to have her special wedding day. That's not likely to happen to Black Widow.
Black Widow isn't a conflicted working mother, er, assassin. With any luck, she'll escape Elektra's poorly written fate.
Black Widow could never - ever - be re-written to work for a cosmetics company, which prevents any potential Catwomanesque catastrophes.
So I'm crossing my fingers that Black Widow might actually be an idiot-proof character. And yet... there is the fact that she was romantically linked to Tony Stark for a while, so let's hope that she's not just set up to be Pepper Potts' competition. (Ugh.) But if Black Widow IS awesome, we have a lot of hope. She has worked with a lot of teams (good and bad) throughout her life of espionage, so there's a pretty good chance that she could wind up not just in Iron Man 2, but also in the upcoming Avengers movie and maybe even other future Marvel films.