The Internet’s Slamming Marvel After That Black Widow Trailer

Marvel Studios has done it again… stoked
the ire of some fans on the internet, that is. While reactions to the first trailer for the
upcoming Black Widow were largely positive, a certain subset of fans took issue with what
they perceived as the fat-shaming of the Red Guardian, portrayed by Stranger Things’ David
Harbour. The Guardian, real name Alexei Shostkov, appears
at a couple of different moments in the trailer. Russia’s answer to Captain America is portrayed
as being perhaps a decade or two past his prime, and suffice to say that Harbour — never
the trimmest of actors — didn’t exactly get jacked for the role. This is obviously by design, as we first see
Shostakov flexing his admittedly considerable muscles in a mirror, then attempting to squeeze
into his old suit. He does, then proudly announces to his “family” — Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha
Romanoff , Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova, and Rachel Weisz’s Melina Vostokoff — that
it still fits. “Yeah! Still fits.” That’s when Vostokoff says: “You got fat.” However, in the spot’s very next scene, we
see that the Guardian’s added heft doesn’t seem to be slowing him down much, as he single-handedly
takes on the villainous Taskmaster. The response from some fans online was highly
reminiscent of the “Fat Thor” controversy after the release of Avengers: Endgame. Many
were incredulous that Marvel appeared not to have learned anything from said controversy,
including Twitter user @The_GothDaddy, who wrote: “The Black Widow trailer looks pretty good
I’d like it more if Marvel learned their lesson with Thor and maybe considered leaving out
yet… A n o t h e r… Dig at fat people.” User @Artists_Al agreed, writing: “So I watched the Black Widow trailer. Is
Marvel just gonna do wall to wall fatphobic jokes in all their movies now or….? Yeah
that’s gonna be a no from me.” There were a wealth of similar tweets to be
found in the trailer’s immediate wake, and while everybody is obviously entitled to their
opinion, ours is that — as with the Endgame controversy — the approach to Harbour’s
character is being wildly misinterpreted. User @MediocreJedi contributed another critical
tweet that touched on our reasoning: “Imma watch the hell out of #BlackWidow but
did Marvel learn ANYTHING from their Endgame Thor fat joke backlash? Most women I know
find David Harbour hot. So, another fat joke? Signed, guy who can barely fit into his 21-year-old
dress uniform but can still kick ass.” While one could certainly make the argument
that Marvel didn’t exactly think through the potential ramifications before committing
to their portrayal of Red Guardian, we submit that those accusing the studio of fatphobia
would do well to take a look at the broader context of the spot. Sure, the fact that Shostakov
is old and out of shape, squeezing into his superhero costume only for his “family” to
poke good-natured fun at him, is played for a laugh. Does this make the Red Guardian a
buffoon, a punchline, like some in the Twitterverse are asserting? Respectfully, we don’t agree that it does.
Again, in the very next scene, we see the Guardian in all his overweight glory engaging
one-on-one with one of the deadliest villains in the Marvel universe — and everything
about his appearance in this sequence, regardless of how many extra pounds he may be packing,
screams “utter badass.” Those raking Marvel over the coals on Twitter
obviously took away something different, and that’s unfortunate — but we certainly didn’t
see Marvel encouraging audiences to point and laugh at the hapless fat guy. What we
saw was much more along the lines of, “Hey, Alexei may be past his prime; he has to struggle
to get into his old suit, and his family ribs him about it. He may not have the body of
Captain America, but he can damn sure throw down like him.” To us, this is the exact opposite of fat-shaming,
and we took a similar position in defense of Fat Thor — AKA “Bro Thor.” Yes, it was
a shock to the system to see the God of Thunder having packed on the pounds, swilling beer
and playing video games, and Chris Hemsworth leaned into the comedic aspects of his first
onscreen appearance in that state. Yes, Tony Stark made fun of him; Stark made fun of everybody,
every chance he got. But Thor’s extra pounds, and the profound
depression of which they were a symptom, were not treated as a joke. In contrast, Odinson’s
descent into depression in the wake of his failure to stop Thanos in Avengers: Infinity
War was treated with a great deal of sensitivity, and the entire arc was one which we would
never have expected for the character. With Red Guardian and Bro Thor alike, Marvel
seems to be pretty darn consistent in its message, which is a timeless one: don’t judge
a book by its cover. You might be old, you might be chubby, you might be depressed; you
can be any or all of these things, and you can still be a hero. That is a message anyone
should be able to get behind. Check out one of our newest videos right here!
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17 Replies to “The Internet’s Slamming Marvel After That Black Widow Trailer”

  1. People these days are so sensitive and jump to see only the negative aspect of almost everything. Watch the movie then comment!!! I liked your take on this, exactly what I thought when I saw the trailer.

  2. This is so stupid. Stop trying to make controversy. "These 2 random Twitter people we mad, saying…" Come on looper really? WTF

  3. This generation is constantly complaining about shit… Yes.. I said shit!!! Complaining about fat shaming but.. Complaining if everyone is physically fit and not being realistic. Geezzzz…

  4. Get over it. One, it's unhealthy, get some help. Secondly, don't be so sensitive take a joke. Everything is becoming bland and soulless because modern culture can't take a joke.

  5. "fatphobic"… ???

    I guess this era is the end of all the "your mom is so fat" jokes. ?

    Oh, by the way: I remember when using only ripped and beautiful people in movies was offensive, too.

    Some people always find a way to be offended.

  6. People make it seem like being fat isn't a thing and it shouldn't be addressed. It happens.
    People let go, stress eat, etc. It happens to the best of us.

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