For many female geeks, the hype around some of Marvel’s films like Avengers: Age of Ultron has sadly been overshadowed by the fact that women have been underrepresented in the comic book company’s marketing. For example, the Disney-owned Marvel left out Black Widow from recent Avengers merchandise, and even completely replaced her character with Captain America in one toy set.
But one positive movement hopes to get Disney and Marvel’s attention, to change their perception of their customer demographic and convince them that Black Widow is a character worth promoting.
On Saturday, June 6, 2015, hundreds (maybe even thousands) of Natasha Romanov fans from cities across the world gathered together in a massive, coordinated Black Widow Flash Mob to show Disney and Marvel their support for more Black Widow clothing, action figures, and even her own movie.
Each city’s flash mob was dressed in costumes or clothing inspired by Black Widow.
Beginning at 12 PM local time, a city captain led the mob out of a secret location and into the public, generating buzz and posting photos of themselves dressed as the female character on social media.
Here’s a complete list of participating cities and their captains:
- Boise, Idaho (Catherine Kyle)
- Boston, Massachusetts (Juli Mayers)
- Chicago, Illinois (Keisha Howard)
- Detroit, Michigan (Kelly Kirstein)
- District of Columbia (Belle Bredehoft)
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Natali Heuss)
- Minneapolis, Minnesota (Priscilla Crocker)
- New York City, New York (Andrea Levine and Autumn Wheelock)
- Orlando, Florida (Tanya Wheelock)
- Ottowa, Ontario, Canada (Sarah Boutcher)
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Jay Justice)
- Sacramento, California (John Marcotte and Stephanie Rector)
- San Diego, California (Courtney Cuellar)
- Seattle, Washington (Jennifer K. Stuller)
- Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (Variable)
- Tampa, Florida (Theresa Marie Salvador)
The idea for the Black Widow Flash mob came from Kristin Rielly, the founder and former editor-and-chief of the blog Geek Girls Network. Rielly started the movement because she realized Marvel and Disney seemed “misinformed about their actual demographic.”
“There have been tons of [social media] posts asking #WhereIsNatasha since Black Widow is missing from most merchandise lines and was even replaced by a Captain America action figure from her kick-ass scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Rielly said. “Men and women alike have been posting and tweeting about the lack of promotion of female superheroines in the latest movies and merchandise, but Marvel and Disney still aren’t listening.”
Rielly decided against the idea of boycotting, since she said she doesn’t believe it makes an actual financial impact on large corporations, and that people don’t respond well to negative criticism. Instead, the geek girl proponent figured the best way to get Disney and Marvel’s attention was by creating a global movement full of good intentions.
“Seeing hundreds of images of cosplayers dressed as Black Widow along with thousands of online profile being changed her image make our statement as clear as possible,” explained Rielly. “Plus it’s a super fun event and a positive way to spread our message: We Want Widow.”
Rielly also acknowledged she couldn’t have organized the event alone. “Jay Justice, the Philly Captain and my second-in-command has been instrumental in keeping our group focused and maintaining the integrity of our mission,” she said.
Black Widow fans can participate in spreading the message of the Flash Mob by uploading their own Black Widow-inspired photos to social media using the hashtag #WeWantWidow. And anyone who wants to show their support online can change their profile photos to Black Widow images and share #WeWantWidow posts across social media.
“I hope that this message goes viral so that Marvel and Disney will see that they absolutely can include female superheroines in more merchandise and these amazing ladies deserve their own stand-alone movies,” Rielly said. “Fangirls love comics and movies and tee shirts and the Avengers… all of them.”