The Black Widow trailer has gone down very well amongst fans. By the time of its release in May, it’ll have been ten months since Spider-Man: Far From Home hit cinemas, and we’re already getting mild MCU withdrawal symptoms. And while the film’s smaller and more personal scope means we won’t see the universe-shaping implications of something like Avengers: Endgame, it still seems like it’ll give us some pretty insane action sequences.
But there’s one group that aren’t happy with the trailer. Their objections center on our introduction to David Harbour’s Red Guardian, essentially the Russian equivalent of Captain America. The film finds the character a decade or two past his physical peak. At one point, he struggles (and eventually succeeds) in fitting back into his old superhero costume, with Rachel Weisz’s Melina joking that “you got fat.”
Unsurprisingly, this has caused some consternation, with people accusing Marvel Studios of ‘fat-shaming.’ Here’s just a couple of the reactions from Twitter:
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
— The Mandalorian is just Space Geralt (@The_GothDaddy) December 3, 2019
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.
— Mean Fat Girl- ?️?? (@Artists_Ali) December 3, 2019
i can't believe* after the horrific fatphobia in endgame marvel's out here making more fat jokes in the black widow trailer
*can totally believe
— ⭐️orion⭐️ (@orionsgay) December 4, 2019
Watching the Black Widow trailer, and beyond the overwhelming causticity of the cast there's, oh yay, a fat joke.
I'm so tired of being told I'm at best a buffoon.
— Hayley Rice (@hay_maker) December 3, 2019
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.
— Mediocre Jedi ? (@MediocreJedi) December 3, 2019
— TheNiceCast (@TheNiceCast_) December 3, 2019
Watched the Black Widow trailer and u am just not excited, I think I am really just done with marvel movies for now ??♀️
Also, there is a really boring fat joke!
— The Killerqueen ? (@fresheima) December 3, 2019
Two successive Marvel flicks with fat-shaming-a-hero gags. We're gonna find out Kevin Feige moonlights as executive producer of the Peloton Cinematic Universe.
— Zeddy (@Zeddary) December 3, 2019
fat shaming ….marvel is canceled https://t.co/abNzOi8wlt
— Gay Baby (@GayBaby84589149) December 3, 2019
is marvel rlly playing the "hahaha this superhero is fat now hahaha" trope again because i swear to god i will throw hands
— sneeze (@danveragnarok) December 3, 2019
Me being subjected to the thousandth, reused fat joke in a marvel movie pic.twitter.com/YYqHBSYyxf
— into the unknown ❄️ (@daria_jayne) December 3, 2019
David Harbour: **rocking arms that could crush a yaris in a hug**
Marvel Writers: lol funny big tummy fat joke time, #BlackWidowTrailer
— Floydasaurus (@FloydZamarripa) December 3, 2019
I Wish Marvel Stop Making These Hero’s Fat And Out Of Shape.
— Hephaestus? (@That_Kid_Suppa) December 3, 2019
For my money, I took Melina’s line to be something that a stereotypically super-strict Russian ballet/gymnastics teacher might say to their pupils. A woman tasked with brainwashing young girls into becoming super-assassins is unlikely to mince words. And honestly, Red Guardian does indeed fit into his old uniform and we do see him kicking ass. Plus, by normal human standards, he’s not even particularly fat. So, what’s the problem here?
I guess people aren’t happy with ‘fat’ being used as a pejorative term or for it to be a source of humor in the film. The same criticisms were leveled at ‘fat Thor’ in Avengers Endgame, where his weight gain was used as a visual representation of his depression. But while the movie did have a couple of fat jokes early on, they rightly didn’t have the character magically lose the weight for the final battle where he kicked just as much ass as he regularly did.
So, I guess if you’re willing to give Marvel Studios and Hollywood the benefit of the doubt, they’re at least making baby-steps towards body positivity. Red Guardian looks like a really cool character, too, and we get to see a superhero who’s slightly over the hill. It’s a fact that when people get into middle age they tend to put on weight and struggle to get into their old outfits. I’m just happy that we get a big beardy bear superhero on screen. If Black Widow turns out to be full of jokes punching down at fat people, then we can criticize it at that point, but somehow I doubt this trailer shows the whole picture.