Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
Black Tidings
Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow Sequence In Iron Man 2 Pretty Much Makes You Want To Just, Like, Pack It In

So those of you who have already seen Iron Man 2 will not need me to explain which sequence of Scarlett Johansson's I'm talking about here. She plays a character variously called Natalie Rushman / Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow. And at a certain sort of already kind of fraught point in the film she undresses and slips into her tactical catsuit and . . . just . . . let's just say she works her way – she's definitely working – she works her way into this heavily-guarded and very high-tech complex.

She looks like this (do click – you're going to want the full resolution):

Although, really, you really do have to actually see the actual sequence in question here to really have any good idea of what I'm about to get at here.

And but so the thing is, really, is the thing is that I found this whole sequence to be – while, probably totally needless to point out, thrilling and beautiful and obviously completely unparalleled anywhere as pure eye candy and generally really great fun to watch – in addition to all that, I found I also found it to be just deeply and profoundly and soul-crushingly depressing and demoralizing. And the reason is that because in just this like one four-minute sequence, Scarlett Johannson in this one scene manages to just efficiently and ineluctably and kind of really heavy-handedly make every single one of the rest of us out here feel:

  • Unattractive,
  • Overweight,
  • Not terribly bright,
  • Weak,
  • Defenseless,
  • Untalented,
  • Unskilled,
  • Untechnical,
  • Unlimber,
  • Underdressed (or, at the very least, really not at all interestingly dressed),
  • Trivially Employed/Engaged,
  • Generally Really Just Not Good-Looking At All,
  • Profoundly Lacking In Style,
  • Ditto Substance,
  • Seriously Underconfident,
  • So Spectacularly Unglamourous that we need like a much, much stronger word for unglamourous than we've actually got
  • Having A Bad Hair Aeon
  • &c. &c. &c.

And, like, the knowledge that this was just, you know, an attractive actor playing a scripted role, with like an entire hair and make-up and costume apparatus in support, with also like good lighting, and not to mention clever editing, and also like a choreographer and martial arts trainer, and plus never mind the like whole team of people who work full-time basically just keeping this woman's body in that shape in the first place, and also knowing full-well that the real woman in real life could no sooner reboot a high-tech piece of military equipment from a remote terminal via the command line than she could toss off bons mots in Latin (which the character also does) . . . even the knowledge of all this surface trickery and that the underlying reality isn't really very much like what it seems to be on film at all, even the knowledge of all that does very remarkably little to, like, palliate this painfully demoralized feeling of being unattractive, and unshapely, and unskilled &c. &c. &c. This feeling of basically, Okay, screw it, I give up.

Or maybe I should just speak for myself here. I don't know.

Here's the trailer. I really seriously spent about 20 minutes trying to pull out the tiny bit with the Black Widow sequence in it; but it's literally less than a second long, and was just stupid-looking and kind of painful by itself. So here's the whole trailer, which is really very good taken as a whole.

But you'll really want to see the film, if only for the Black Widow sequence. Or, I don't know, maybe you'd better not, if you have any ambition to keep feeling, like, remotely good about yourself.

There are some other plausibly interesting critical things I could say about the film, re: coherence of the writing v. Iron Man 1, and about the pleasing primacy and privileging of brain-power and know-how in both stories which makes the franchise this interesting triumph of geeks over thugs (and over suits), and some clever narrative resonances (and inversions) they had between the fates and choices of the hero and the villain, and about what really the role of the director is in a special-effects-driven behemoth that had like at least 1000 people involved in making it (by my rough count watching the credits – looks like 938 listed on the IMDB page) . . . but who can be bothered? After the Black Widow sequence, really, why bother?



In other news, check the date (NSFM!): Get the Flash Player to see this player.



Update from exactly two years later: Okay, here it is. Gaw.



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about
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (2014); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of spec-ops zombie apocalypse dark action thrillers. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
DON'T SHOOT ME IN THE ASS, AND OTHER STORIES by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
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