Captain America #45: A world in which nobody wears a shirt
Today I’d like to put my cynic shades on and write about the recent desecration of Natasha Romanov. It goes like this: boy comes back from the dead via convoluted retcon and creator bias, boy meets girl, girl becomes empty shell of her former characterization and now lives eternally semi-clad in boy’s apartment. We’ve all seen it happen, a lady character reduced to the role of “love interest”, which is to say, a prop in a male-centric narrative.
Except wait a minute, this isn’t what I think at all. It’s just what I’ve read on the internet.
The thing about the love lives of superheroines is that there’s no way to win. Pair her up with an opposite gender counterpart; she’s automatically a sidekick. Pair her up with a random civilian, and she has no standards— what does she see in that man? Pair her up with no one at all and she is a frigid asexual. And, well, lesbians are fanservice. In a world created by and for (let’s remind ourselves!) straight white dudes, how can they be anything but?
It’s true. In the context of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run, Natasha does appear in her underwear. In a few panels, she appears in less than that. Almost more damningly, she’s shown to be a supportive, rather than combative girlfriend. Gone is her fiery 1970s insistance that she be treated like an equal. Instead, they cuddle!
“You’re off the hook. I’ve never had much faith in that whole “if you love someone, set them free” crap, as evidenced by everything I’ve done in my life up until this very moment, but I am determined to be happy, Joey, happy in this life. And I love you. I have always, always loved you, but our timing has just never been right. And the way I figure it, time is no man’s friend. Well, I have to get right with that and be happy now. Because this is it, this is all we got. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from losing Jen, that’s what I’ve learned.”
“Actually, hold on, I’m not done yet, because I also want for you to be happy. So I want you to be with someone, whether it be Dawson or New York guy or some man you haven’t even met yet, but I want you to be with someone who can be a part of the life that you want for yourself. I want you to be with someone who makes you feel the way I feel when I’m with you. So, I guess the point of this long run-on sentence that’s been the last 10 years of our lives is that the simple act of being in love with you is enough for me. So you’re off the hook. “