Mark Ruffalo defends Joss Whedon’s feminism: "Black Widow is much stronger than Banner"

Ruffalo might actually be a superhero — he's done more than his fair share of saving the day lately

By Anna Silman
May 7, 2015 7:30PM (UTC)
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Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo (Cosmopolitan UK)

Joss Whedon is no longer responding to critics on Twitter, but thankfully he still has the Hulk to defend him.

Recently, Whedon faced criticism arguing that the treatment of Black Widow -- "Avengers: Age of Ultron's" lone female Avenger -- was sexist and demeaning, and that she was reduced to being Bruce Banner's love interest instead of having her character developed in more interesting ways.


In a Reddit AMA yesterday, Ruffalo gave a long and thoughtful response to criticisms of the film, defending Whedon as a feminist champion in an industry that has too few (earlier in the day, Ruffalo also tweeted that he actually though Whedon "turned Banner into a love interest that needed saving").

Here’s what he had to say to Reddit:

“I I think it’s sad. Because I know how Joss feels about women, and I know that he's made it a point to create strong female characters. I think part of the problem is that people are frustrated that they want to see more women, doing more things, in superhero movies, and because we don't have as many women as we should yet, they're very, very sensitive to every single storyline that comes up right now. But I think what's beautiful about what Joss did with Black Widow - I don't think he makes her any weaker, he just brings this idea of love to a superhero, and I think that's beautiful.

If anything, Black Widow is much stronger than Banner. She protects him. She does her job, and basically they begin to have a relationship as friends, and I think it's a misplaced anger. I think that what people might really be upset about is the fact that we need more superhuman women. The guys can do anything, they can have love affairs, they can be weak or strong and nobody raises an eyebrow. But when we do that with a woman, because there are so few storylines for women, we become hyper-critical of every single move that we make because there's not much else to compare it to.

So I know Joss really well. I know what his values are. And I think it's sad, because in a lot of ways, there haven't been as many champions in this universe as Joss is and will continue to be. And I know it hurts him. I know it's heavy on him. And the guy's one of the sweetest, best guys, and I know him - as far as any man can be a champion for women, he is that.

So it's been a little disheartening.

But I also see how much people love that aspect of it. There's an equal amount of people who find the love interest between Banner and Black Widow to be a big standout. And it's very satisfying to people. So it's a movie. People are going to have their opinions. And that's actually a great thing. The fact that this is a debate that's coming out of this movie is probably a positive thing.

I just don't think that people should get personal with Joss, because he really is - of anyone - an advocate for women. He's a deeply committed feminist.”

Ruffalo has been Black Widow’s staunchest defender throughout the “Avengers” press tour, answering Scarlett Johansson's sexist interview questions for her and tweeting at Marvel that "we need more #BlackWidow merchandise for my daughters and nieces. Pretty please.”


Seriously, thank god for Mark Ruffalo. What with Jeremy Renner’s recent Black Widow slut-shaming campaign and the addition of the notoriously noxious Martin Freeman to the "Captain America: Civil War" lineup, the Avengers need the Hulk (to not make them look like total douchebros) more than ever.

Anna Silman

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Avengers Avengers: Age Of Ultron Joss Whedon Mark Ruffalo Marvel Movies Scarlett Johansson