Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Disney Studios does a great job in rotating major characters out of their Marvel properties. Black Widow is the latest example of this.

A bunch of people around the world watched Black Widow this past weekend. I was one of them. By the time it was over, I had thought yet again on why Marvel (when run by Disney) seems to keep hitting things out of the park. Every film has a freshness to it that you don't get with new Batman and Superman movies where they have recast the old character with whatever the new hotness is in Hollywood. It occurred to me that one of the things that Disney really has going for it is its willingness to just let things go and move on.

For example, Captain America, Iron Man, and Black Widow had run their course. So they let those characters go. There may be new ones that pop up in the future. Anthony Mackey is going to be a "Captain America." But he will never be "The Captain America," and I'm not bothered by that at all. That old "cap" is done as far as I'm concerned (and I really do love me some Chris Evans). The reel's been run out on that particular iteration of the character and what they wanted to do with their life. I gotta say though, that I'm a little in awe of Disney's bold moves to just toss aside old characters that have made them a ton of money. Lesser studios might have tried to woo the actor back with a salary increase or some other such nonsense, but not Disney.

Black Widow (of course) is the latest of the bunch that gets their swan song in a motion picture. When the character was first introduced, female members of "The Avengers" and female superheroes in general were kind of rare. However, we can't say that anymore (and it's only been ten or so years--that isn't that long, folks!). And as much as Natasha spent posing and doing the things that she does really well for the entirety of her run in the MCU, the film was also a highlight of Natasha's greatest hits, showing us one more time just why she was an Avenger in the first place (even though she had no actual super powers). The film also was an excellent springboard to introduce us to someone who is going to be "a Black Widow," even if she isn't the Black Widow. And that's actually exciting, because I love this new character (her name is Yelena Belova and is the younger sister of Natasha but not by blood). Progression and change is so much better than just rebooting characters and asking everyone to pretend that they don't know the origin story one more time.

In watching all of these comic book movies and television adaptations, I feel like studios (and Hollywood) too often keep reaching for the same bag of tricks to try and capture lightning in a bottle. The characters of Superman, the Batman, Spiderman, and the Joker have been done to death. As much as I love Tom Holland in the role of Spiderman, it's going to be fun to see what Disney does with the character next as Holland's contract is up. I read online that Holland is hoping that they will renew his contract, but I actually hope they don't. With the MCU providing a guiding hand to the property of Spiderman, I would assume that we are going to see an expansion of the character into the many alternate realms and earths, giving us all kinds of "Spider people." This hasn't ever been done before in live-action, and it's going to inject some badly needed freshness into a very stale franchise.

Change is a good thing. Capitalism doesn't agree with this statement of course. With regard to entertainment, what capitalism tends to do is to seize upon a successful thing...and then clone it with something that is only marginally different. The up and coming Windows 11 operating system reminds me of this, because Gizmodo's screen shots show that its interface will be almost identical to Mac OS. So, they are copying Apple to try and catch lightning in a bottle. Only Apple already caught the lightning in a bottle, so I don't think it will end up being any more successful than Windows 10 was (I'm actually a fan of Windows 10). And that's why what Disney does by tossing out these old characters in favor of trying out new ones is remarkable by any capitalist measuring stick.

Anyway, Black Widow was a great film that didn't feel stale, and it opened the doors to many other fun opportunities to explore within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Anyone else see it this weekend? I'll look for your responses in the comments.


  1. Really they got rid of characters because it was too expensive not for creative reasons. In comics replacement characters don't last so it'll be interesting to see how long it lasts in real life.

  2. I also saw Black Widow over the weekend, and I loved it. Yelena was terrific, so I'll be thrilled to see her in future projects.

  3. I did not get a chance to see the movie, but I agree that moving the characters forward, or getting rid of them, is the right play after a while. (Capitalism has so many bad ideas generally. It's amazing it's lasted as long as it has.)

    I think this is one of the reasons I really like the Superman & Lois show on the CW. Rather than do another origin story of Superman, they took an older Clark, now with family, and have him living life as a superhero. It's not the Superman I've seen so many times before, and I dig that.