In “Black Widow”, here’s why a simple vest with pockets means so much


One scene from Marvel’s “Black Widow” prequel, which looks back at the titular superhero’s dark and humble beginnings, is particularly resonant. And in a movie full of deadly assassins, a dramatic prison break and a secret facility that explodes, the scene in question is a simple conversation between two sisters about the wonder that is a waistcoat.

Separated surrogate sisters Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena (Florence Pugh) have come together to take down the Black Widow special ops program that has kidnapped, trained, and brainwashed countless women to become machines. kill against their will. Having gone through and escaped the program themselves, they intend to free their sisters in arms. But before that, they share a surprising heart-to-heart as they take to the skies in a stolen getaway vehicle.

“You know, this is the first item of clothing I buy myself,” Yelena says casually of the waistcoat she is wearing. It’s not exactly glamorous or overtly feminine, so Natasha jokes, “Is it like an army surplus or …?”

Feeling the need to justify her purchase – and her fashion sense – Yelena says, “Okay, there are a lot of pockets, but I use them all the time and have made some of my own modifications. is that I never had control of my own life before and now I do. I want to do things. “

Natasha realizes that for Yelena the waistcoat is more than a waistcoat, and she ends up smiling and expressing her support with a simple “I love your waistcoat.” Yelena, of course, wasn’t quite done singing the garment’s praises, closing the poignant dialogue by making it clear that “you can put so much in there, you wouldn’t even know it.”

“Black Widow” is full of hard-hitting feminist stories, not the least of which is to mirror the real war on reproductive rights and validate non-biological womanhood and family. But this dialogue about Yelena’s vest is the one that’s most relevant.

Few of the women’s clothing is more universally loved than those with pockets – the more and the deeper, the better. Any woman who gets complimented on a dress that has pockets will be the first to point out this convenience with some conspiratorial glee. The simple pocket should be a no-brainer, but its absence is unfortunately the norm in women’s clothing.

As Vox reported in 2016, the pocket has always been political, offering a not-so-subtle insight into who is supposed to step out in public spaces and carry personal effects with them. This may not seem like much, since women are supposed to carry a handbag anyway, but the need to carry a handbag itself is an added burden and a gender-related cost that men don’t have to deal with. In recent years, especially throughout the skinny jeans and jeggings craze of the 2010s, the talk about the lack of pockets in women’s clothing has come to a head, as women have moved on from accepting. this lack of the wardrobe as an embarrassment to call him for his sexism.

The whole situation of Yelena’s vest is particularly political, given the context in which she has been denied control of her body and life since birth and joining the Black Widows program against her will. During her captivity, Yelena is forced to undergo an unwanted hysterectomy, kill countless people she didn’t want to kill and is denied the opportunity to have friendships and meaningful relationships with anyone. , or have a life of his own in any way. Her first free act was to buy a practical utility vest, lined with pockets that she can use not only to carry what she wants, but also to do what she wants. And what she wants is to free the other widows and be by her sister Natasha’s side.

The iconic and decidedly feminist vest is also a symbol of brotherhood – notably, the brotherhood between Yelena and Natasha. At the end of the film, Natasha accepts Yelena’s gift and wears it almost right away, from the closing scene of “Black Widow” to her return after years of on the run in “Infinity War.” The vest becomes an intimate part of her – like her brotherhood with Yelena, even when they are apart.

It is not known what happened to Yelena in the years between “Black Widow” and “Endgame”. Our only clue to this is a mid-credits scene when Yelena visits Natasha’s grave, sometime after Natasha sacrifices her life in “Endgame”. It is in this scene that Yelena is given her “next mission”, supposedly as an assassin employed by the mysterious Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine by Julia Louis-Dreyfus: to kill Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) whose life Natasha had deemed more important than her own. Understandably, being the fiery and militant feminist heroine that she is, Yelena’s response is to ask Valentina for a raise.

There is clearly a bright future for Yelena – who may well become the most sarcastic and delightfully sarcastic person in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, continuing the legacy of her sister, the first female Avenger. Hopefully, wherever her journey takes her, she’ll have reclaimed the iconic vest: a manifestation of her freedom and loving brotherhood with Natasha, the avenger who paved the way for new heroes like Yelena.

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