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Marvel Movie-Verse Music: Black Widow

For everyone’s favorite redheaded assassin, I’ve selected Rage Against the Machine’s song “Killing in the Name.”

The lyrical simplicity of this song is counterbalanced with the strength of the vocals and rousing instrumentals, which, to me, ties to the internal conflict within Natasha’s character of desiring simplicity but being drawn into the most complex and dire of situations.

From an early age, Natasha was trained as an assassin, then became an operative for SHIELD, only to learn that SHIELD was compromised by Hydra. Perhaps more than anyone, Black Widow has been betrayed by the institutions that give her life purpose and structure. Although Natasha puts up a calm and collected front, there have been times when the disbelief and anger over these betrayals have broken through her emotional epidermis and we’ve been given a glimpse of the toll its taken to be mentally and morally broken and remolded by one entity claiming to be the good guys after another.

The fact that corruption lies in the hearts of self-professed heroes is dealt with in the lyrics:

“Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses”

Rage Against the Machine specifically geared the song toward the existence of white supremacists within law enforcement agencies, who sought the power and prestige of the badge while abusing both. Although the Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t addressed white supremacy, it is no far stretch to say that the slow and steady infiltration of SHIELD by Hydra can be seen as a commentary on the resurgence of Neo-Nazi and white nationalist movements in the United States.

Furthermore, as much as I would like to say that Black Widow has decided that her ultimate responsibility and loyalty lies with the Avengers, we cannot forget that Natasha was willing to walk away from the confrontation with Ultron to live happily ever after with Bruce Banner. Some may call this move selfish, but we can’t deny that all of our favorite heroes have contemplated similar scenarios of shirking the role of superhero to embrace the simplicity of an Average Joe. And, truly, who can blame Natasha at this point? She has been pushed and pulled in every direction, to the point where she has had to second-guess the motivations of everyone around her. She’s heard every justification for imposing one’s will on another in the book, and she’s so very tired of it, which is a sentiment embodied in the following lyrics:

“Those who died are justified, for wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites
You justify those that died by wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites”

Still, even when Natasha offered love and acceptance to Banner, Bruce decided to run away out of fear of what he was capable of. In this way, Black Widow and Hulk are the same. They both fear and favor the notion of complacency because their lives have been defined by chaos. Naturally, this has left both of them very angry. And, as much as Hulk is defined by his anger, Black Widow may actually have him beat when it comes to justifying that anger, as she was left feeling abandoned by Banner.

On the note of abandonment and the eve of Endgame, there is speculation that Black Widow’s best friend, Clint aka Hawkeye, has experienced a seismic degree of loss, and it may be up to Natasha to save what’s left of his soul to get him back in the fight. However, one has to wonder: after everything, Natasha has lost, does she have any faith in others left to offer to another?

Will we see two characters whose arcs embody betrayal of belief systems unleash their anger as never before? Perhaps the collective frustration may reach the heights of the climax of “Killing in the Name,” which entails a chant of:

“Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!”

As we’ve seen in their previous clashes in Avengers and Civil War, the confrontations between Natasha and Clint mark turning points.

The entire universe now knows what it’s like to be unmade, and it may be up to people like Black Widow and Hawkeye, who have experience in salvaging the broken parts of their lives, to put it all back together again.

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