Avengers: Age of Ultron is the top movie this summer, and will likely be the top comic book movie for the year. The toys, games and other merchandising are covering every character from the movie, except one. Black Widow has been completely omitted. The clueless marketing execs apparently think nobody knows or cares who Black Widow is. The final straw was when Natasha Romanoff’s motorcycle and drop ship appeared in Disney’s line of Avengers toys, but they’d intentionally replaced Black Widow with Captain America.
If you’ve been out and about today, you may have noticed a substantial increase in the number of Natasha Romanoffs in your city today. That’s because there’s a Black Widow Flash Mob* happening RIGHT NOW – both online, and in 17 cities all over the world at noon (each city’s local time).
Organizer Kristin Rielly put together the event, which has Black Widow cosplayers appearing in public locations all over the world creating buzz, getting their images online, and trending the message #WEWANTWIDOW in response to the utter vacuum that has, up to now, been a complete absense of Black Widow merchandise. She came up with the idea three weeks ago.
Rielly, in a Mary Sue interview, describes her frustration:
After seeing Age of Ultron and Black Widow’s [abrupt back-story scene], and writing several posts for Fashionably Geek about the new Avengers line this and that – almost all missing Black Widow images, I just had enough. To top it all off, Hasbro and Mattel both released action figures of Captain America and Iron Man on Black Widow’s motorcycle in her most badass AoU scene, instead of a Black Widow action figure. I’ve seen so many posts and tweets expressing outrage at the obvious inequality of Black Widow on film and in the stores, but I feel like Marvel and Disney aren’t getting it. I thought if Black Widows started popping up all over at the same time, that would send the clearest and loudest message.
Women all over fandom have heard that message and are taking action. Seattle resident Jennifer K. Stuller, pop culture historian, and co-founder and current Board VP of GeekGirlCon, decided to organize the Black Widow Flash Mob where she lives. “Kristin contacted me to ask if I’d be willing to take up the mantle,” Stuller explains. “Like a metaphorical Lady Thor (of what is a very Norse region of the US!) I was delighted to be gifted worthy of picking up our local hammer. I love community organizing, especially with geeky women and allies, and especially for a cause. It’s what driven much of my work over the past decade.”
Andrea Levine, the New York City city captain for the event, has some very personal reasons for picking up the cause. “I have a very young niece who loves superheroes,” says Levine. “But there isn’t much out there for her. The figures available are far too sexual and definitely not age appropriate. I’m already seeing signs of this affecting her. She’s not seeing the female superheroes, so she’s getting the message that superheroes aren’t for girls. That’s bull. I want her to grow up thinking she can be the superhero instead of the damsel in distress.”
For Levine, it’s less about the impact on Marvel or Disney and more about inspiring fellow fans, and to do that, boosting the #WEWANTWIDOW hashtag on social media is key!
Participating cities in the live flash mobs include: In the US, it’s Boise, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa, and Washington D.C. Outside the US, it’s Ottawa in Canada and Sydney in Australia. Starting at noon, if you live in one of these cities, check the hashtag to see where the Black Widows are gathering.
If you can’t get to one of these cities, you don’t have to participate in person, because the social media element is key. Starting at noon wherever you are, post pictures of yourself as Black Widow – draw a picture of Natasha Romanoff, but however you do it, use the #WEWANTWIDOW hashtag so that the powers that be see just how engaged the geek community is. Show the world how much you care about our female Avengers.
It’s not as frivolous as some might think. Making our voices heard makes people remember that we are here and that we want to be counted and recognized. Together, we can change the world.
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