Psycho Sunday: Baddass Women in Combat Gear #9


Number Nine on my list of BWCGs is Black Widow, Natasha Romanov. Unlike Deputy Jo Lupo, Romanov probably didn’t start out as a badass, but was twisted by the USSR’s Black Widow Program, which trained young girls to be assassins. Played by Scarlett Johansson, an actor with a strong work ethic, Romanov comes off as badass, but not in a testosterone kind of way. In the recent film Avengers: Age of Ultron, she is the only Avenger who doesn’t feel the need to try to pick up Thor’s hammer; she makes it clear she has nothing to prove. The downside of her portrayal in that film is her getting paired up romantically with the Hulk instead of Hawkeyes (wrong, wrong, wrong) and the whole thing where the graduation ceremony from the Black Widow Program is getting a hysterectomy. That makes sense in a communist patriarchy kind of way storywise, but it says something about women who are Allowed to be Badasses in Popular Culture. Too many of them are broken in some way.

But I like that Johansson does as many of her own stunts as she can, and from the very beginning in Iron Man 2, those stunts are just PRETTY! She says:

“I like doing the stunts. Oh, sure, it hurts sometimes. I came into work on Winter Soldier some days aching with bruises and bangs, and Samuel L. Jackson, my co-star, would say: ‘So why not just hand over that stuff to the experts, Scarlett, and save yourself from pain?’ I explained to him why I just couldn’t do that. Please don’t think I’m stupid, though. I know my limitations. When Natasha, my character, has to bound 20ft in the air and do four cartwheels, it’s my stunt double Heidi Moneymaker who’s doing that.”


Peachey, James. “Scarlett Johansson Keeping Figure, Doing Stunts…” Daily Mail. 2 April 2014. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.

Sticking the (Stylized) Landing

the landing

So the other day I wrote about my poetry midwife, Pamela, and how she has helped me, particularly in learning to pay close attention to the endings of my poems. I remember being at the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference way back in August 1988, back when I was just a Writer Niblet, the poet Nancy Willard said, “Poetry is like bread. You can smell when it is done.” That may very well be true. But that is also assuming that you mixed the dough correctly and that all you need to do is add heat for a specified amount of time. Sometimes the ending comes out messed up because you messed up the start, so you can’t simply do a closure-style ending like a circle. Or you messed up the middle, which I think of as the Airplane Mistake, because if an airplane pilot is only one degree south of where she should be on her trip from Boston to Oregon, she may well end up in Los Angeles or worse.

I think of this in particular because I have been watching Agents of SHIELD lately and awaiting Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. One thing I have noticed about the Marvel Cinematic Universe is how stylized a lot of the action is, in particular the dramatic landings. The person you see this most clearly with is Scarlet Johansen’s Black Widow, but you also sometimes see Agent May do this too.

may landing

The Urban Dictionary defines sticking the landing as meaning to “execute flawlessly from the beginning through the end. Follow through.” (“Stick”). The phrase originates from gymnastics. “When a gymnast lands a tumbling pass, vault, or dismount without moving his/her feet, it is called a stuck landing. The aim of every gymnast is to stick–if the gymnast moves his/her feet at all it is a deduction” (Van Deusen). More generally, it has come to mean “to finish an athletic, gymnastic, or other sports performance with an ideal pose or stance, especially after a jump or leap; (hence, also outside of sports) to do or finish well; to win” (Barrett).

I like the idea of an ending that is stuck solid to its foundation, unwavering. I also think that finishing well should not by necessity entail winning. Think about the 35,000 people running the Boston Marathon last month. Four won and 34,996 did not, but I imagine the goal for all but 100 was simply to finish well.

For a poem, this may mean you have an ending that quivers in the air in front of you shimmering with beauty. That is, often, the goal. But more often I think it is that you learned something from writing the poem and perhaps your readers have learned something from reading it.

Barrett, Grant. “Stick the Landing.” A Way With Words. 3 Feb. 2006. Web. 1 May 2015.

“Stick the Landing.” Urban 21 Dec. 2006. Web. 1 May 2015.

Van Deusen, Amy. “Stuck Landing.” 2015. Web. 1 May 2015.