If you’ve been following the long saga that is Black Widow’s place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you’ll know that everyone’s favourite assassin has been getting a short shrift, both on the big screen and on toy shelves. Fans have been angry for a while, but now they’re taking their grievances to the streets.

Over the weekend, fans gathered for demonstrations in 17 different cities across the U.S. and the world to draw attention to their plight in support of Black Widow, under the banner of “#WeWantWidow” on social media. The arguments have been stated many times before — that as a primary member of The Avengers, Black Widow deserves to get the spotlight in both her own movie in the MCU as well as better representation in merchandise, where she has traditionally either been largely marginalised or — in some particularly heinous instances — erased all together to better market action toys for boys.

Each “flashmob” saw fans, largely clad in Black Widow cosplay or red-haired wigs to declare their affiliation for all things Romanoff, waving signs and letting people know about their goals. Speaking to The Mary Sue, campaigner Kristen Reilly hoped that the event would encourage fans to let their opinions be heard:

I hope that this is the beginning of a more inclusive superhero universe for future movies and merchandise. I hope that the companies making awesome movies and fantastic toys and clothes realize that they can do even more because they have a bigger demographic than they originally thought. And I hope this inspires more geek girls to stand up and continue to have a strong and positive voice for inclusion in our community.

The debate around Black Widow and other female heroes in the superhero movie extragavanza we’re in the middle of has come a long way, and events like this are a pretty major step in fans attempting to get through to Marvel and its merchandise partners. But with the likes of Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman movies on the horizon, it’s a debate that won’t be going away any time soon, either.

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[The Mary Sue via The Guardian]