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Fuck Yeah, Black Widow

Fallaces sunt rerum species

Здравствуйте from FYBW, your one-stop tumblr shop for Black Widow news, no-prizing, and oversaturated .gifs. Some MCU, mostly comics. Often overwritten. Always overthinking.

Black Widow created by Lee, Rico and Heck & is © Marvel Entertainment.

The Name Game


One of the most frequently asked of frequently asked questions is how Natasha’s name works. Is it Natasha or Natalia? Romanoff or Romanova? Which is her real name?

The tricky bit is this: Natalia and Natasha are both forms of the Russian name Наталья. The Natalia/Natasha equivalency doesn’t exist in English, leading to tail-chasing confusion about which is real and which is fake. Natasha is a diminutive form of Natalia, the same way Bill is a nickname for William. “Natalia” is not more authentic or more Russian, it’s just more formal. “Natasha Romanoff” is not an alias the way “Nadine Roman” or “Nancy Rushman” are.

The Romanoff/Romanova issue is just a question of transliteration. The Russian surname is Рома́нов, which has been written Romanoff or Romanov depending on the decade. In Russian, women’s last names take feminine endings to match their grammatical gender— Ivan Belov becomes Yelena Belova, Aleksandr Belinsky becomes Aleksandra Belinskaya. But the feminine endings often get dropped in English translation, e.g. Nastia Liukin, and not Nastia Liukina.

I want to make it out that there isn’t really a standard, “correct” way to translate a Russian name into English. Sometimes the patronymic is dropped, sometimes it isn’t. Immigrant women use the feminine form, or they don’t. It’s a matter of preference, and can also be generational.

I also want to emphasize that comics have never been able to make up their mind.

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I revised and updated this essay, mostly because I found some better and earlier examples from the comic books to use. But also, more links to better posts!

Female-led Movies Overperform at the Box Office


When the Melissa McCarthy led Tammy came out, it made less than a lot of analysts predictions and lead to a lot of disappointed rumbling. This is surprising because the film made a lot of money at the domestic box office, relative to its budget (it cost $20 million to make, and took in a little more than that in just its opening weekend.)

So why were people so disappointed? Probably because Melissa McCarthy’s films have a history of ridiculously overperforming. (The Heat, Bridesmaids, Identity Thief). For Melissa McCarthy, incredible return on investment is the norm. 

When I examined the 100 highest performing films in 2013 and 2012, as well as films released so far in 2014, a pretty clear pattern emerged: female-led films leave male-led films in the dust, once you pay attention to their production budget. Melissa McCarthy is just an extreme example of this trend. I’ve included highlights from my analysis under the read more.

TLDR; Looking at box office take relative to production budget, female-led movies have overperformed for the past three years.

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In another big win for Universal Pictures, Lucy took first place with over $44 million… Lucy's success can be attributed to a few factors. First, the movie had an intriguing premise (what if we could use more than 10% of our brains?) that was front-and-center in action-packed, visually-stunning advertisements. It helped that actress Scarlett Johansson's lead role here seemed like a natural extension of the butt-kicking brand she's built as Black Widow in The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Ray Subers, Box Office Mojo

I’m not saying Lucy is a feminist triumph or a good movie, I’m saying it made Universal Pictures a lot of money this weekend. The action-stuffed trailers were totally deceptive but capitalized on action star appeal Johansson has created as Black Widow. Universal stuck that Marvel Studios brand onto its French artsy sci-fi flick and spun it into millions of dollars Marvel won’t get. Because Marvel maybe doesn’t believe a Black Widow movie could make money. Because Hollywood is still afraid of superheroines.

Look: Marvel says we should vote with our voices, if we yell and we yell one day they’ll hear us, probably, some time after Ant-Man 2: Still No Janet Van Dyne. What happens, though, if someone else takes the niche they’ve created and ignored, and makes that money first?