In Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff is reunited with her long-list sibling, who just so happens to share Deadpool’s gripe with superhero movies.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Black Widow, now playing in theaters and available for streaming through Disney+ Premier Access.
Black Widow marks not only the first film from Marvel Studios in two years, but the first film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four. Things are set to change in this new post-Infinity-Saga MCU, and while Black Widow is set prior to the last few Marvel movies, it embraces a new feel and new direction for Marvel. The film takes the opportunity to reflect on Natasha Romanoff’s time as an Avenger and although this can be a heavy topic for Natasha, who is now a fugitive following the events of Captain America: Civil War, there are some laughs to be had at the expense of her dramatic superhero poses.
Of course, Black Widow isn’t the only superhero movie to bring a touch of self-awareness to the genre. When Natasha’s erstwhile adopted sister, Yelena Belova, calls her out for being a “poser” due to her impractical battlefield poses, it’s hard not to hear an echo of another Marvel hero: Deadpool. It seems both Yelena and the Merc with a Mouth have it in for the “superhero landing.”
In Deadpool, the mutant mercenary picks up on comic book characters’ preference for “superhero landings” – the dramatic, crouched pose often adopted by superheroes leaping to the earth from a great height. In his characteristic fourth-wall-breaking fashion, Deadpool excitedly anticipates the villainous Angel Dust doing a superhero landing during the film’s final act, pointing out that the move is “really hard on your knees, totally impractical.” A similar moment plays out in Black Widow, when Yelena asks Natasha why she does “that thing you do when you’re fighting,” before imitating Black Widow’s own superhero landing pose – crouched with one arm outstretched as she flicks her hair back. As Natasha stares at her, clearly a little offended, Yelena tells her: “It’s a fighting pose! You’re a total poser.”
While the first two Deadpool films were not part of the MCU, the antihero is now set to reunite with his fellow Marvel compatriots following Disney’s acquisition of Fox and with it, the film rights to Marvel’s X-Men characters. Plans for the third Deadpool movie are still in development at Marvel Studios, with the film set to continue in the more adult vein of its predecessors and become the MCU’s first R-rated movie. However, clearly some of Deadpool‘s humor is already starting to rub off on his soon-to-be co-stars.
Both films pick up on the same trope and its impracticality, though it’s handled differently in each story. In Deadpool, the comment feeds into the film’s self-aware parodying of superhero movies, whereas in Black Widow, the focus is not so much on deconstructing a film trope but on the chemistry and bantering between two sisters who have grown apart. As with much of the humor in the MCU, this moment is about finding humanity and vulnerability in the characters. On the surface, it’s a simple meta jest, but the scene’s subtext speaks to Yelena’s view that Natasha is pretending to be something she’s not and Natasha’s underlying insecurities in her life as an Avenger.
The exchange is revisited later in Black Widow, with Yelena cheering in vindication as Natasha leaps to the aid of Alexei Shostakov and assumes the pose. Later on, when dropping from an air vent, Yelena herself adopts the pose, muttering “That was disgusting” immediately after. While Yelena is clearly still uncomfortable in the classic superhero stance, the moment reflects her growing closer to Natasha’s heroic ideals, which she initially dismissed as “posing.” While the Deadpool parallel is obvious, there can be no denying the MCU’s takedown of superhero landings carries far more narrative weight.
Directed by Cate Shortland, Black Widow stars Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian, O-T Fagbenle as Mason and Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff. The film is in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access now.
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