Emily-Blunt2
Much buzz today about Emily Blunt, the scene-stealer from THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, being cast as the Black Widow for the next Iron Man movie.

200Px-Black Widow (Ultimate) 002Color us unimpressed. Blunt is a fine thespian but it’s another case of a wispy girl/woman being cast as a character who is supposed to be an athletic full-grown WOMAN. Of course, the Black Widow was always a sexy, seductive character, but she was always a grown woman. There’s no question that Blunt will fill out her shiny spandex just fine, but one looks forward to the inevitable duel between her and “Pepper” Potts where they try to stab each other to death with their stiletto heels.

Oddly just saw this from Valerie D”Orazio on an unrelated topic.

When New Frontier was being made, I remember hearing rumblings in the office about the “fat” Wonder Woman. That Wonder Woman was drawn too “fat.” Too muscular. Because, of course, the most powerful woman in the world can’t have a corresponding body type. She has magic muscles that are invisible, squashed down into another dimension, affording her a svelte, Keira Knightley figure.

1 COMMENT

  1. In other news, Tobey Maguire is too short and scrawny to play Spider-Man and Robert Downey, Jr. is too old to play Iron Man.

  2. How popular are female bodybuilders as pinups, compared to the Playboy type? Not very. “Ripped” bodybuilders can easily look odd, if not grotesque; to me, female bodybuilders can look ugly. Back in ’96, Playboy did a pictorial on Zap, an American Gladiator. I thought that with her thick waist and blocky overall body, she was about as sexually stimulating as a truck driver. As far as I know, Playboy hasn’t used bodybuilders since.

    Athleticism doesn’t require muscularity. A beautiful body isn’t disproportioned, but putting on muscle mass for the sake of strength does that. It’s a question of how much muscle mass one needs to do certain tasks. In the case of Wonder Woman, supernatural attributes can explain her strength; muscle mass isn’t needed. And, if one gets technical about the subject, no amount of muscle mass would enable someone to lift hundreds of tons. Whether the writer invokes an extra-dimensional source of energy or supposes that the hero(ine) is converting psionic energy to kinetic energy and muscle mass just reassures someone that he can accomplish the feat, the amount of muscle mass isn’t very relevant.

    She-Hulk has never been a hit, but would the character have gotten anywhere if she’d been drawn like the Hulk?

    SRS

  3. Blunt was as I recall asked to lose a dangerous amount of weight for Devil Wears Prada, so I would imagine if cast she’d look different for this role if that’s what the producers want — I mean, they’re actors. She’s not Kristen Chenoweth height-wise, either. I believe she’s the same height and not far away in build as Jennifer Garner, and I thought Garner looked fine in the Elektra movie.

    I had no idea there was a preferred body type attached to Pepper Potts, although I would note that Paltrow has to be taller than Downey. So at least in that case the typical sexist casting practices weren’t followed.

    If they always went the perceived-fan physical route, we would have gotten Harvey Keitel instead of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.

  4. Far more concerning than her build is her age. Natasha, refreshingly, is one of the “oldest” heroes on the circuit. Technically, she’s well into her 60s. Of course, thanks to her bioengineering – i.e., the Russian super-solider formula – she appears to be in her mid 30s (thanks to Richard K. Morgan’s phenomenal Black Widow mini series).

    Still, part of what makes her so terrific is that she’s a wise, experienced woman with a maturity to which few others can hold a candle. She’s a woman – not a fresh-faced 20-something.

    So, of course, when it comes time to cast an actress, it’s a post-sorority 25-year-old they seek. Ironically, this is the one time they could have cast a woman in her 30s and it would make perfect sense.

    Meanwhile, Robert Downey Jr. is 45, Mickey Rourke is pushing 60 and Sam Rockwell is 40.

  5. Steven, hate to disagree with you after I just bigged you up, but I was talking primarily about Blunt’s AGE not necessarily physique. The Black Widow is an experienced, seasoned agent. Blunt is 25.

    And I said “Athletic” as you said, not “body builder.” If you watched the Olympics, you probably noted that most female athletes were toned, healthy looking people, except for the little child gymnasts of China, but those pixies have one of the highest strength to body mass ratios of any athlete. Meaning the Black Widow should have been cast either by the youngest Fanning girl or Dana Torres.

  6. In my defense, I was reacting mainly to the D’Orazio quote re Wonder Woman. The Black Widow, as far as I know, has always been drawn like Marvel’s other pinup-type heroines. Would anyone want Wonder Woman drawn to resemble Hercules?

    SRS

  7. Reminds me of this blog post from the Horrors of Comics…

    http://thehorrorsofcomics.blogspot.com/2008/03/and-lo-skinny-white-chick-shall-save.html

    I highly recc. it for you. Sample:
    “There seems to be a weird trend going on in fantasy-land. And, well… I pretty much spoiled it in the title. But for those of you who aren’t about the title, here it is: action/horror/sci-fi/crap movies where the fate of mankind/Earth/the Hershey plant in Hershey, PA is left up to the strongest fighter out there… white chicks under 120 lbs.”

  8. Blunt too skinny? But she’s only one stomach flu away from her ideal weight!

    (And yes, I’ve surrendered my Man Card for being able to quote that by heart.)

  9. Maybe they can have both Black Widows appear. Someone older can play Natasha as someone middle-aged and Blunt can play that new Black Widow, whose name I don’t know.

  10. >> I was reacting mainly to the D’Orazio quote re Wonder Woman. The Black Widow, as far as I know, has always been drawn like Marvel’s other pinup-type heroines. Would anyone want Wonder Woman drawn to resemble Hercules?>>

    Darwyn Cooke’s Wonder Woman doesn’t look like Hercules.

    And that’s what D’Orazio was commenting on — that people at DC thought Wonder Woman was “too fat” in THE NEW FRONTIER — not asking for Wonder Woman to resemble Hercules.

    kdb

  11. The only actress I can think of off the top of my head with the physique (well, used to) that would work for Wonder Woman is Lucy Lawless. She wasn’t Herculean or anything, but when she was Xena it actually looked plausible that she could do those things.

    Wonder Woman has special abilities, but she’s also built to match. Regardless of what some folks may think, lots of different body types are “attractive” even when they don’t conform to our current cultural ideals. If “exceptions” are being made for male stars in terms of height and age, why can’t we stray from the “norm” and have an athletic woman actually look athletic? It also speaks to what we think female superhero’s are for…to look good, as opposed to effective or plausibly heroic.

    Or, let me phrase it this way…if Batman/Bruce Wayne had been played by Elijah Wood instead of Bale, wouldn’t we find it ridiculous? Wouldn’t we think that was completely outside the realm of possibility?

    That’s basically what’s happening here. Blunt is a fine actress but she’s the wrong age and doesn’t convey “maturity” the way the character does. There are PLENTY of actresses older than her who do, who are just as “attractive”. It’s just than women over the age of 25 (and frankly, more like 20) are becoming more and more invisible. And we accept it like it’s not big deal.

  12. My two long-standing suggestions for the WW movie have been Monica Baccarin from SERENITY and Bollywood star/Miss World Aishwarya Rai.

  13. >> Tom, maybe someday you will post your Comparative Heights of Hot Starlets chart? >>

    Standing, Seated or Sprawled Fetchingly on a Bearskin Rug?

    kdb

  14. I likened Wonder Woman to Hercules specifically because of the “most powerful woman in the world” description, which implies a tremendous amount of musculature unless someone supplies a reason for why muscle mass isn’t needed.

    FWIW, some of the contestants in ESPN’s “World’s Strongest Man” competition appear to have a considerable amount of fat covering their muscles. I wonder what daily routines they require to keep all their muscle mass toned. I’ve found out that at my age (51), if I don’t work out regularly and eat appropriately, my muscle mass disappears quickly.

    SRS

  15. “”but one looks forward to the inevitable duel between her and “Pepper” Potts where they try to stab each other to death with their stiletto heels. “”

    LOL! :D

  16. How dare they cast a Golden Globe winning actress in their film. Don’t they know comic films must be only about appearance and not substance? This is so unlike Iron man, I mean Sam Jackson is the spitting image of every picture of Nick Fury I’ve ever seen. Every picture after 2008 that is.

    Whatever, I heard they had Angela Lansbury lined up for the Black Widow role but she is busy doing Bednobs and Broomsticks 2: Electric Broomgaloo.

  17. Actually, I live in Leisuretown.

    Heights are easily googleable. It just struck me as odd to see this kind of conversation in 2009, and to see it argued so poorly, so I spent .3 seconds googling.

    I don’t know this Blunt actress at all, but she’s not tiny, which seems to me to speak directly to the Wonder Woman thing that’s asserted by its placement in the same post. And while she’s young there’s no reason the Iron Man movie-makers have to go with the modern comic book conception of any character, let alone a reasonably modestly known one, let alone all of the particulars of said characters.

    There’s not even really a trend towards casting ingenue types in female superhero parts, such as they are. Those seem to me to have tended to go to more substantive female stars in their 30s (Berry, Theron, Pfeiffer, Thurman, Garner and if you count Wanted, Jolie) as opposed to those in their 20s (Alba). Action-adventure movies with female leads have run the gamut in terms of who gets these roles (Rhona Mitra to Uma Thurman), and the ones with more physically imposing, less aggressively youthful or slight protagonists are some of the best and most successful ones.

    I’m all for trashing elements of unwanted sexism — those guys D’Orazio saw busting on the supposedly fat Wonder Woman are clearly dumbasses, and have little to no taste in character design. I just don’t see it here, and by poking at some of it with basic facts I was hoping to engender something more substantive than a snide “Well of course YOU don’t get it.”

  18. “that people at DC thought Wonder Woman was “too fat” in THE NEW FRONTIER”

    Damn … that’s one of my favorite depictions of Wonder Woman. Guess I like my women with a little more to them :)

  19. Tom, The biggest problem I have in your response is the phrase “It just struck me as odd to see this kind of conversation in 2009” as it implies that all discussions of fashion, trends and changes in how the media perceives men, women and everything in between is static, (or worse that we fixed everything at some indeterminate point in the past amd are now living in a Golden Age) when in fact everything is subject to changing social factors, style, and who the studio boss wants to screw at any given moment.

    Compare the casting of Margot Kidder as Lois Lane to Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. Kidder was 30 and fit pretty well into the then-popular type of tough talking, cynical, sassy leading lady (cf Karen Allen). Bosworth was 23 and and though she was a good age match for the equally young Routh, her ingenue-style screen persona was frequently criticized as not fitting a seasoned reporter and single mother of a six year old, meaning Superman was banging an underage teen, as well as being a deadbeat dad. (The tall, skinny, youthful Katie Holmes was also roundly despised in BATMAN BEGINS, with the tall, womanly Maggie Gyllenhaal a far more palatable choice — or at least the movie is perfect, as the internet tells me, so Maggie Gyllenhaal must be perfect, too.)

    In the 80s the supermodel Glamazon was *A* popular look, and contrary to your assertion that Emily Blunt is big (she’s tall, but slender and probably shops on the small rack based on the pictures I’ve seen), the models of the day, like Cindy Crawford, were a lot bigger than today’s preferred type, reflecting an athletic look that was more popular in the “aerobic” era.

    And so on. The first X-men movie was made in 2000, Alias, starring the athletic Garner, in 2001. Those are long ago trends in Hollywood terms. Today the tall, skinny girl is in (not that it ever gets kicked out of bed for eating crackers); tomorrow everyone will be tired of that and Oprah Winfrey will be in for all I know.

    I’m sure Emily Blunt will be just fine — as I said she’s a fine actress (Golden Globes) and her look and style are “in” right now. But she doesn’t fit my, or one or two other people’s, view of Black Widow any more than Kate Bosworth was Lois Lane.

    Besides, we just want to see Tony Stark get jiggy with Black Widow at the end of the day!

  20. Heidi’s closing line there gets to my problem with Blunt much more adeptly than the “she’s too young/too skinny” arguments do. Put simply, there’s a 20 year age deferential between Emily Blunt and Robert Downey Jr., and I think it’d be more fun AND believable, speaking more as a moviegoer and less as a fanboy, to see him match wits and romance/battle with a woman closer to his own age and experience level.

    That Pepper Potts in Iron Man is played is played by an older woman who can plausibly match wits and pathos with Downey Jr., and not a fresh-faced young thing, is one of the movie’s strengths. I’d like to see them keep that up with the Widow, who, C or B-level character that she is, can at least legitimately claim worldliness and maturity as one of her defining character attributes.

  21. I always picture someone like Rene Russo or Terry Hatcher for Natasha … I’m sure, now that she may appear in IRON MAN 2, I’ll be spending precious more time on this. There’s worse ways of idling away your time besides imaging various women dressed as the Black Widow.

    Maybe someone should ask Paul Gulacy for his casting choices …?

  22. “It just struck me as odd to see this kind of conversation in 2009″ as it implies that all discussions of fashion, trends and changes in how the media perceives men, women and everything in between is static, (or worse that we fixed everything at some indeterminate point in the past amd are now living in a Golden Age) when in fact everything is subject to changing social factors, style, and who the studio boss wants to screw at any given moment.”

    No, I agree with you that these things aren’t static. I just don’t take this all that seriously as a discussion of those things. This seems like an argument about Mr. Mom playing Batman wrapped up in some rhetorical philo dough about sex, sexism and body image.

    I’d suggest that this kind of thing goes back and forth enough that you can’t really draw any strong conclusions. When I look at the last few superhero movies, I do see Kate Bosworth as a tiny, wan Lois Lane. But I also see the vibrant Charlize Theron playing a superhero in Hancock, and the Gyllenhall substantive woman upgrade in the Batman movie and the 35-year-old Paltrow playing opposite Robert Downey.

    Also, Wolverine’s love interest in the X-Men movies, Famke Jenssen, is 5’11”. Wolverine’s love interest in the Wolverine movie, Liev Schrieber, is 6’3”. So that’s progress, right?

    In other words, I just don’t see a trend. I see these parts — and action-adventure parts for women generally — cast all over the place. This is just on one side of things, not the side of things. And in a fanboy sense, hey, maybe this casting stinks, but Ben Affleck was physically closer to Daredevil than Hugh Jackman was to Wolverine, and we know how that worked out.

    And hey, if anyone’s earned a casting gimme or ten it’s the Iron Man producers who went with Downey Jr. over someone like a Josh Hartnett. I just want to know how quickly it will be obvious to everyone Rhodey’s a skrull because he can’t remember his earlier shape.

    PS — I met Cindy Crawford before she was famous. She was pretty tall, but she was pretty damn thin.

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