By John Marcotte – Natasha Romanov, the Black Widow, is the world’s deadliest assassin and spy, and essential part of the Avengers movie franchise. But with Avengers: Age of Ultron hitting theaters the Friday, Marvel and Disney continue to treat Natasha as the “invisible woman” when it comes to toys, clothing and other merchandise.
Of the 60 products that Marvel and Disney released for Avengers: Age of Ultron, only three featured Black Widow. That’s five percent. There were no Black Widow action figures, costumes or clothing for girls. The three Black Widow items available from Marvel are a tote bag, a men’s t-shirt, and a figure that is part of a large LEGO set.
Marvel’s licensing partners do not fare much better. Black Widow is consistently left out of toy lines, they fail to even try to market her to girls and she is excluded from team shots on merchandise aimed at boys.
Last summer, we all were asking #WheresGamora? We hoped that the outcry would lead to changes in marketing this time around. It did not.
Fight the Power
There are two ways you can help Marvel and Disney see the error of their ways. The first is to find examples of how Black Widow is excluded from merchandise, take a photo and then share it on Twitter with the hashtag #WheresNatasha.
— Heroic Girls (@HeroicGirls) April 27, 2015
The second is to sign and share our Change.org petition to “Include Black Widow in all Avengers-related toy lines, clothing and merchandise.”
We’ve partnered with our friends over at Legion of Leia to get the word out, but we need your help, too. Every hashtag, signature and share puts more pressure on the decision-makers who have decided that girls don’t need heroic toys and that boys can never look up to a woman as a hero.
After women bought record numbers of tickets to see Guardians of the Galaxy last summer, and complained mightily that they were shortchanged by the lack of Gamora merchandise, we expected that Marvel had learned its lesson, and that things would be better with Age of Ultron.
The fact that there was no improvement means we need to keep fighting to let Marvel know that they are doing a disservice to fans that they claim to care about very much.
Maybe we’ll finally get some female merchandise when Captain Marvel comes out.
About This Contributor
John Marcotte is a writer, TEDx Speaker and activist living in Sacramento with his two super-heroic daughters and wife. You can read more of his work at his website, Heroic Girls, which is dedicated to empowering girls by advocating for strong role models in alternative media — particularly comics.
Women You Should Know is very fortunate to have John as a regular guest contributor. In a word or two… he rocks!