Natasha (Black Widow) Romanoff’s Journey from ‘Iron Man 2’ to ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

Natasha Romanoff has an interesting journey in the Marvel films, not least that her character arc moves through different films with different protagonists. As the only female Marvel superhero (at this point) she sits in the ground between “pleasing” fanboys and being a strong character in her own right. The success of this in the films can be argued, just as her costumes can, but her existence is something we should be happy about. As a starting point.

(Mild spoilers for all three films.)

Iron Man 2

Costumes designed by Mary Zophre

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The first time we see Natasha Romanoff she is called Natalie Rushman and is applying to take over from Pepper Potts as Tony Stark’s personal assistant. She is dressed competently with elegance but not overstated. Her clothing isn’t threatening but still maintains an air of sex appeal – to gain the attention of noted womaniser Tony. The use of monochromatic colours also works to make her blend in with the background. An ideal situation for a spy.

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Now that “Natalie” is in Tony’s employ her costumes become much more fitted, colourful and sexy. She is doing all she can to fit in with his world. She is fulfilling his idea of the perfect personal assistant – she needs him to keep her around and to confide in her. (The dress looks like a combination of a few Roland Mouret designs.)

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This dress is in a much more sober colour but still has the fitted look of the earlier dress. This dress fits more with the Pepper Potts personal assistant role – is she changing her cover to become more like Pepper because that’s who Tony trusts implicitly? (The dress looks very similar to Black Halo’s Jackie O dress.)

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This party dress (Dolce & Gabbana) is much more in tone with the earlier coral dress. She is fitting in with the party crowd but still able to stand out. The second photo shows a scene cut from the film where Natalie is more openly and obviously flirting with Tony. This dress plays into that perfectly. She may be his personal assistant but she is also still a guest at his birthday party.

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Then we have the reveal of the worst kept secret – Natalie Rushmore is Natasha Romanoff who is Black Widow. A spy working for Nick Fury in S.H.I.E.L.D. This is the first iteration of the iconic catsuit. It’s very fitted (as you would expect) and the piped seams are there to draw your eyes down the whole of the suit. Add this to the low zipped neckline. Any ways that could be used to sex up a skintight catsuit without being too overt have been used here. It still works as a functional outfit but you wouldn’t exactly see this costume on a male spy/agent.

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Although “Natalie”‘s cover is blown with Tony she is now employed as Pepper’s assistant. Her costume now takes on a more sombre tone that is more fitting for Pepper and less seductive. Her role is to observe and protect Pepper and she is more likely to be kept on by being competent at her job than by looking sexy. The dresses still fit with Natalie’s overall look but they’ve been adjusted for the scenario. The perfect spy.

The Avengers

Costumes designed by Alexandra Byrne

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We have a new film and we have a new spy position. We never hear Natasha’s spy name here because her cover has already been “blown”. From the dialogue we gather that the mission began as a seduction and this is where the fitted black dress comes in. (Fitted but with a noticeable flair in the skirt to enable the gymnastic fight moves.) The dress also works as her Iron Man 2 costumes did in lowering people’s expectations. She is able to overcome the three Russians aided by this fact. One great touch is the exposed zipper at the back of the dress. Not only is this a modern touch but its adds a layer of toughness to the elegant dress – toughness that we expect from Natasha. She is a highly competent and dangerous spy but uses her sexuality and femininity to trick men. Is this an act of strength or weakness?

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The next time we see Natasha she still seems to be undercover but in a different persona. She is dressed to fit in with the world of Calcutta and also to put Bruce Banner at ease. We see that she’s hidden a gun so she is prepared for violence but she needs Bruce to trust her and a catsuit just won’t cut that. The colours are all warm toned and combined with the warm lighting and colours of the set mean that she stays fairly hidden in the shadows. The shawl that Natasha is seen wearing here plays into Bruce’s red toned shirt, creating a comfortable colour scheme between them.

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Now we have Natasha as herself, as a fully fledged S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. She is not in any spy persona. She wears tightly fitted jeans (to allow for combat?), a tough leather jacket (her personal form of protection?) and a red top to keep the warm tones that we set up in Calcutta. This Natasha is practical, not overtly sexual. She works in a male-oriented world and needs to be taken seriously be those she works with. Particularly when one of them is the first ever superhero and the other can turn into the Hulk.

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The new catsuit. This is still fitted by the fabric seems much more hardwearing and likely to give protection. The seams are no longer piped but flat felled to add strength and stability. They made add a level of sexiness but they are more practical and less obvious. The zipped neckline is still low but there is much less skin exposed. The Black Widow belt buckle (first seen in a much smaller form on the Iron Man 2 catsuit) is more focused and obvious here; as are the number of Natasha’s weapons.

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The Avengers saved the world and are taking a break. Natasha has gone back to jeans, a warm toned top and a leather jacket. This time the jacket is much lighter (still playing into her warm tones) and is less of a “threatening” statement. She will always favour leather for its protection but she trusts the people around her ad has gained their trust.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Costumes designed by Judianna Makovsky

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Another film, another catsuit. This suit seems to be a middle ground between Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. The neckline is closer to Avengers, but the fabric appears much more lycra-based as in IM2. The level of weapons seems closer to Avengers, with the belt buckle closer to IM2. There is much more panelling in this suit than in the other versions and means that, as a look, the suit has gone back to its more sexualised roots. There are leather side panels, bulked up shoulder pads, elbow and knee pads and a combination of flat felled seams and piped seams. But in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Natasha is barely seen in the catsuit. She remains Natasha Romanoff rather than Black Widow.

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From now on we have Natasha as Natasha. Many of her costumes remind me of Veronica Mars’ costumes – the jeans, jackets (corduroy and leather), stripes, hoodies. As personality comparisons go Veronica and Natasha aren’t too far removed. We’ve got incognito look one but it’s worth noting that the green corduroy jacket is still in the warm tones that we established in The Avengers.

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This is the most Veronica Mars-y costume. Natasha has chosen greys and more muted tones to help blend in to the background and hide from S.H.I.E.L.D. The greys are still warm in tone and we’re seeing layers as an off-duty form of protection.

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We’re back to pre-hiding Natasha. Black jeans, black top and a leather jacket. The main interest in this leather jacket is its clear 1940s Aviator influence. We’ve had those influences before surrounding Captain America: on Steve in Captain America: The First Avenger, on Peggy in CA:TFA and on Steve in The Avengers. This is one of the few obvious ’40s costume references in the film and it’s interesting that it’s found on Natasha rather than Steve. His costumes are much more modern than they were in The Avengers when there were clear repeated ’40s links.

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The last time we see Natasha is after her Senate subcommittee interview before she is off to find a new identity for herself. This is ‘blank-slate’ Natasha, but ‘blank-slate’ with leather protection everywhere. The leather blazer is smart and practical but tightly tailored at the waist. This is probably overkill and done to stop any chance that she won’t look like “sexy Scarlett Johansson”.

[I left out one costume due to major spoilers, lack of photo and specific spy mode.]

Natasha’s next appearance will come in Avengers: Age of Ultron, once again designed by Alexandra Byrne. Personally, I’m hoping for a return to The Avengers catsuit and hair. And maybe a comment on the arrow necklace she was spotted wearing in CA:TWS.

S x

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Superhero Saturday: Agent Coulson

Agent Coulson: Cucumber Man. As in - 'cool as a'.

Agent Coulson: Cucumber Man. As in – ‘cool as a’.

Or: Why I Think Agent Coulson Should Stay Dead by thatmissdeen

Hear me out. I think I’d better start this off with a disclaimer – I LOVE PHIL COULSON. Both he and Clark Gregg’s portrayal of him have been wonderful. The Marvel short A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Thor’s Hammer is a pretty accurate definition of the acronym BAMF, and if I ever met Gregg in person – I’d probably get arrested. For reasons.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to add that you’ll understand this post better if you’ve seen The Avengers – the most overrated film of 2012, apparently.

Phil Coulson, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and Captain America fanboy is, as far as I’m concerned, dead. He was stabbed through the chest by Asgardian god Loki – the baddest bitch in the game. It was one of the most gasp-inducing moments of The Avengers and was what spurred our heroes on to save the world. They did. They avenged Phil and everything was schwarma and rainbows.

Then I heard Coulson will be fronting the S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series. Something about a ‘life model decoy’ and the Coulsonlives hashtag. Clark Gregg tweeted some things. Then I was upset.

His first name is Agent: A badass - but a dead badass

His first name is Agent: A badass – but a dead badass

To be blunt the whole thing smacks of a cop out. One of the things I like about Joss Whedon is that he isn’t afraid to kill off his characters. So slaughtering Coulson was a really good move. Shocking, but good. So why bring him back?

Alright, Clark Gregg kicks-ass. He does. Which meant that Coulson was also amazeballs (sorry Elijah Wood), and having him die the way he did in Avengers, with that badass parting shot towards Loki. It was a perfect death. Unexpected and BRAVE and gave the heroes a purpose.

Now Coulson’s back. Somehow, certain theories suggest, someone or something that looked like Coulson was put in place when the fatal wounding by the glo-stick of destiny happened, so that the real Phil didn’t actually die.

No, he doesn't.

No, he doesn’t.

You know when kids are play-fighting, and then Child A says ‘I’m gonna shoot you with my laser gun’ and then Child B says ‘No because I’ve got a special shield that blocks laser guns’, and then Child A whines ‘Yeah but my gun has a special button that breaks through shields that block laser guns’? This is similar in the sense that Loki is going ‘Ha! I stabbed you!’ and Marvel are all ‘Yeah but we have a life model decoy that can’t get killed by Asgardian sticks’ and Loki is all ‘No fair you can’t sit next to me at lunch anymore’.

This is not me cussing Agent Coulson, because he really does rule, but I reckon resurrecting him after such a brilliant exit takes the shine off.

I sincerely hope that the S.H.I.E.L.D. show is being set pre-Avengers to avoid the frankly ridiculous Child A/Child B scenario I described earlier.

Additionally, I realise I might just be whistling in the wind, and in the wonderful world of comic books, no one ever really stays dead; so really I shouldn’t be too surprised.

Saw This And Thought It Was Cute

Saw This And Thought It Was Cute

I have now hired a SWAT team to guard my home like hawks because I am bound to get some abuse for this *eyes dart back and forth between other DTSFT members*.

@thatmissdeen

Don’t Be A Mug: Part One

So, this is almost an extended Saw This And Thought It Was Cool but also effectively idea theft from my friend’s blog. Hers has included posts on nail art, swimwear and cakes, so I’m beating her to a mugs one.

As a household we are…hot drink drinkers? Meaning my parents drink tea and coffee but I just drink coffee. I used to drink tea and not coffee, stopped drinking tea and then, via a long-winded boring story about a work meeting, started drinking coffee. But I’ve always liked “collecting” mugs. My parents have their sets – very strict likes and dislikes and I can tell that, my Dad in particular, can’t wait ’til I move out and take my ‘out of collection’ mugs with me.

I’ll start this with some of my current mug owns:

This was my first solo mug purchase when we visited Agatha Christie’s house Greenway for my birthday two years ago. I wanted a Poirot book. But…not sure I made the right decision bookwise. I still love it though.

So, we’re at Greenway and my Dad picks this up. To buy for himself. It remains wrapped up for months. I forget. Guess what one of my Christmas presents is? Never has a brunette been so blonde.

A trip to Forbidden Planet for birthday presents for friends. Had to come out with something for me. It took a fair while to decide on just one.

The mug I got from Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights after my Reading Spa referenced here. The other side: “Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the books herself from Mr B’s” ‘Mrs Dalloway’ re-written.

And then, I started searching online for other mugs I’d like. Bad idea. There are TOO MANY. I don’t care about keeping a set style. I don’t care about everything being mis-matched. I’m interested in too many things and can find way too much joy in the mugs so why not? I’ve tried to organise them to make quick scrolling through much easier. Be warned, I’m hoping the other DTSFT can get involved (hence, my optimistic Part One of the title). Then there’ll be LOTS of scrolling through. Never would mugs get so much internet attention.

In alphabetical order then, cos I’m sad like that.

Agatha Christie:

One of my favourite Agatha Christie books. THIS is the mug I should’ve bought at Greenway. Curses! At least, until ‘Five Little Pigs’ has an official mug.

Although I don’t necessarily love this book, the title reminds me that this was one of the first Marple episodes I ever watched and revived my Christie love. Also, it’s a cool Penguin Books style.

It’s a moustache mug. WIth a bowler hat. I love it.

What’s not to love about this mug? It’s literary hilarity. I want it.

The Avengers:

So, second Avenger mug has to be Captain America related. It just has to. And Bucky for good measure.

And then I’d need a Thor mug. For a better range of Avengers mugs go to Forbidden Planet. Or even HMV. Last I checked they had a fair range too.

Back to the Future:

Now, I know I’m yet to do a post on ‘Back to the Future’ but I will do it. For the time being I need this mug. Or a DeLorean. Or, you know, both.

I like things that aren’t too obvious. To a non-‘Back to the Future’ fan this mug would make no sense, to a fan you’d get excitement.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel:

My Buffy the Vampire Slayer love was the first fandom I experienced. I’ve had on/off periods with the show since then but my love of the show, and the characters, remains. I’ve also got into podcasts because of the show. One of my favourite podcasts even has their own mug. If you’re a fan of the show or are interested in watching please check out potentialcast – an intro cast to the show.

This is a mug like the Biff one (It says: Sunnydale High School. The future is ours!). Not too obvious for non fans. But for fans, it sums up the show.

“The Bronze. It’s the only club worth going to around here. They let anybody in, but it’s still the scene. It’s in the bad part of town.”

We like out acronyms here. So does BtVS.

This drawing is from one of my favourite ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ episodes “Hush”. I would say that this is probably not a mug to take to work. Depending on your workplace. But it is hilarious. If you’ve seen the episode you’ll understand. There used to be a tote bag with this image on it. I might make it myself.

A bit of an in-joke within the series.

Another in-joke from the show (‘Angel’ this time) that I can’t help but find hilarious. If you’ve seen it you’ll understand.

This is the team of Potential Cast. This illustration was only done in the past few months so if you’re just starting the podcast they’ll mention it sometime in the future!

The Gilmore Girls:

Luke’s Diner is THE place in Stars Hollow to get your caffeine fix. That’s good enough for me.

The Dragonfly Inn. Lorelai and Sookie’s Inn. A step down from the coffee at Luke’s but it’s gotta be pretty good if Lorelai runs it.

The Great Gatsby:

One of my favourite books. In mug-form. In Penguin Books mug-form.

An interesting mug for ‘The Great Gatsby’. I’m not sure if I like it more or less than the Penguin Books mug.

Marilyn Monroe:

It baffles me that I don’t own this mug. It actually baffles me.

I love her.

Sherlock Holmes:

Penguin Books for Sherlock Holmes.

This mug unlocks with heat. I have never had a “magic” mug. And this one would be perfect.

So we all know that Cumberbatch has been acting like a bit of an idiot at the moment but I still love him as Sherlock and Freeman as John. And these fan illustrations are so cute!

Veronica Mars:

The beginnings of it all.

If you want to be a Private Investigator working for your Dad wouldn’t be a bad place to start. If he was a Private Investigator. And ex-Sheriff.

Having pirates as a school mascot would definitely lead you to believe that something’s not right there.

The Wizard of Oz:

I think this one might be my favourite ‘The Wizard of Oz’ mug.

I don’t think there can be too many The Wizard of Oz mugs.

Miscellaneous:

This mug just reminds me that I need to watch more Woody Allen films.

Because who doesn’t love ‘Gremlins’ at Christmas?

I would probably never use this mug properly but I would like to have the option.

I suggested the Truffle Shuffle t-shirt in a previous Saw This And Thought It Looked Cool so it seems appropriate to have ‘The Goonies’ mug in here. “Goonies never say die!”

Sort of vintage-y. About coffee. It’s great.

Pin-up girls. On mugs. Incredible. To make the morning just a bit more interesting.

Anyone have any mugs that they love/want to own? Any that I’ve disastrously left out? Anyone think I’m just insane?

S x

He Could Get It…Tom Hiddleston

"But it's just so hard. Breaking all these hearts..."

“But it’s just so hard. Breaking all these hearts…”

WHY? 

Fell a bit in love with him after Thor because for me, his turn as god of mischief Loki stole the show. After a couple of nights sitting up on Google for this guy, I discovered not only is he an acting tour de force, but he’s a total sweetie with legs that won’t quit and a voice that can only be described as intimate. And by the way, if you don’t mind a man shoving his big brain in your face on a regular basis, then do check out his Twitter account. Poetry in 140 characters.