The Marvel Cinematic Universe kicks off Phase Four with Black Widow. The film follows the backstory of superhero Natasha Romanoff, who has to face her demons. After weeks of anticipation, Marvel Studios unveiled the first trailer. Unfortunately, something is bothering fans around the world.
More Fat Jokes?
During the trailer, fans are introduced to Red Guardian. In the comics, the superhero was created as the Russian version of Captain America. Stranger Things star David Harbour will portray Alexei Shostakov, who is the second Red Guardian in the comics.
In the trailer, Red Guardian gets criticized for his weight. Many fans took to Twitter to complain about Marvel’s use of fat jokes. “Thinking about the fat jokes in that Black Widow trailer, so weird to have a movie that looks serious and kind of dark and you have to put dumb fat jokes in there. Only way to save it is to have Red Guardian murder everyone that shames his beautiful body,” Twitter user DanlanVos said. Some fans will be avoiding the film altogether following the trailer. “The Black Widow film has an abundance of fat jokes apparently so. It’s a no from me even more now,” Twitter user malfoysheirs said.
This Is Familiar
Earlier this year, Avengers: Endgame was criticized for fat-shaming Thor. Following the events of Avengers: Infinity War, Thor found himself spiraling into depression. With the loss of his friends and half the world, the superhero drank heavily. While the studio took the blame, the idea came from actor Chris Hemsworth. “I just had an opinion. I wanted to do something different this time. Each film I’ve wanted to, in particular the last couple, and they were on board,” Hemsworth told USA Today. “We shot for many hours and days and discussed how far could we push (Thor) and what we could do different.”
Avengers: Endgame directors Anthony and Joe Russo defended Thor’s sudden transformation. “Even though there’s a lot of fun to be had in the movie with his physical condition, it’s not a gag. It’s a manifestation of where he is on a character level, and we think it’s one of the most relatable aspects of him. I mean, it’s a very common sort of response to depression and pain,” Anthony Russo told Entertainment Weekly. There were plans to change Thor back to his original self, but they decided to stick with his new look.
The Right Decision?
For Harbour, having a bigger character on screen is important. “These impossible standards that Hollywood sets — I don’t find those people sexy anymore,” Harbour told CNET. “I find them narcissistic and I find them cruel to culture because I think that art is meant to lead people. I don’t want that cruelty in our bodies anymore. I want more big girls in leading roles. I want big guys in leading-man roles. I want them to be the hero.”
While Marvel Studios will get attacked for these jokes, they’re part of the character’s development. Much like Thor’s inability to save everyone, Red Guardian might have demons of his own. Fans might discover how the superhero got this way with a saddening backstory. In the comics, Shostakov gets attacked by his former ally Colonel Ling after saving Captain America and Black Widow. While this led to his death in the comics, Marvel can use it as a catalyst for Shostakov’s appearance.
His transformation can also come from heartbreak. In the comics, he marries Natasha Romanova before becoming Red Guardian. With the studio keeping Romanova and Shostakov’s past a secret, a failed relationship between the two is possible. Black Widow will arrive in theaters on May 1, 2020.
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