To celebrate Earth's Mightiest Week and the release of Avengers: Endgame, ComicBook.com has gotten in touch with several comics creators and professionals who are either currently working on a series featuring some of the characters of Avengers: Endgame or have made a major impact on the characters in some way.
Today, we're featuring interviews with Jen and Sylvia Soska and Tini Howard. The Soska Sisters are twin sisters best known for their directorial work in horror movies. Earlier this year, the pair launched a new Black Widow comics series that picks up after the events of Secret Empire and pushes the titular character towards a more violent path. Tini Howard is a rising star in the comics industry and is the current writer of Thanos, a miniseries that examines the early relationship between Thanos and his adopted daughter Gamora.
The following interviews were conducted by email and have been lightly edited for clarity only.
Welcome to Earth's Mightiest Week! From April 22nd to April 26th, ComicBook.com is celebrating the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far with a series of exclusive articles, lists, arguments, and more. If you'd like to check out some of our other offerings from this week, you can click the image above.
ComicBook.com: Why has Black Widow remained so relevant despite her origins tied so heavily to the Cold War era?
Sylvia Soska: Black Widow isn't your typical character. She wasn't set up with her whole history revealed, so there's always this mystery about her. Her past and memories are even a mystery to her which makes for some fantastic storytelling. She's not your typical heroine, she's a stone cold trained killer.
Jen Soska: She is very adaptable. Every once in a while a character comes along that's meant to last for a minute but something about them keeps them in the hearts of fans. She's deadly, she's provocative, and she's a perfect spy capable of surviving in any condition. Nat has been able to change with the times better than anyone as her particular skill set never goes out of style.
Your new series sees Black Widow embracing her assassin background after years of seemingly being remorseful of her past. Why the change?
Sylvia: Being remorseful of past mistakes doesn't take away the fact that she is a ruthlessly trained killer. She has just come back from being killed by Captain America, one of the people she always thought she could trust. She isn't officially back from the dead. She's rediscovering who she is and getting back to her roots, her lethal training, when she sees something very similar to what happened to her as a young girl. As an adult, she has the power to change things. It's a survivor story more than anything else.
Jen: Black Widow has learned of a deep betrayal in her history. She has learned she has died numerous times, more than she knows, and each time her memories have been downloaded into a clone and she's been re activated. She's dealing with her own version of existential crisis. Who is she? Is she still the same woman despite this dark secret? And what is still worth fighting for? Nat will lay down her life for the right cause but in our series she's looking for something to keep living for.
Is there a tension between Black Widow and other superheroes because of her background? Even trained soldiers like Captain America seem to shy away from killing as a superhero, while Black Widow mostly seems to embrace it when necessary.
Sylvia: Widow used to play both sides pretty notoriously and she's still known for operating mostly in the shadows, so there's a lot for other characters to be nervous about. There's no hiding anything from her and most likely she's looking into you if you're interacting with her. I think when Nat kills someone, it's more like putting a sick animal out of its misery. She doesn't always opt to kill either, you really never know what she's going to do.
Jen: I love her dynamic with Cap! Cap used to be a soldier in WWII and he's certainly laid a few Hydra officers to rest so it's not like he's got no blood on his hands. The big difference here is that Cap tries to not use lethal force anymore whereas Nat feels it still works as an option for her. She's somewhere closer to Frank Castle's morality. These people are bad. Someone has to stop them. Some ways of stopping are more permanent. With Cap, Nat has this beautiful way that while they discuss morality they are also discussing their own pasts and if they can change and come back from the dark places they've been.
One of Black Widow’s defining characteristics is her versatility – she’s as much at home working for SHIELD, being a full-time Avenger, or palling around with street-level heroes like Daredevil. What makes her so adaptable, and where is Black Widow most comfortable?
Sylvia: The Black Widow is one of the most skilled super spies in the Marvel Universe, she also makes one hell of a team mate in any situation. I don't think the Widow is ever uncomfortable in any situation which makes her a lot of fun to write. We see her team up so often and she's magnificent in that aspect, but we wanted to show how deadly the Black Widow can be on her own and without anyone holding her back.
Jen: There isn't a place that Nat can't fit right into. I think she's happiest caring for those who need her. She is always the best partner in a relationship, but she's proven to be incredibly maternal. She is very loving and is there for the ones she loves even more so than they are there for her. If she's protecting innocents or with someone she trusts and trusts her back would be the ultimate for her. Nat follows her heart.
Do you think that Black Widow has the potential to become as popular as Captain Marvel or Wonder Woman now that she’s getting her own solo movie?
Sylvia: It's a different and the same audience. Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman are these iconic female heroes. Black Widow is a reconciled former villain hero who will still use those bad guy tricks to save the day. That already makes it an interesting base for a film. I personally hope they hire Gareth Evans - if you haven't seen The Raid and especially The Raid 2, check them out - but his style with a Black Widow story would be like printing money.
Jen: Absolutely! But they've got to play to her strengths! She could be the ultimate super spy though I see her a little more Metal Gear Solid than James Bond. I have been DYING for a Black Widow movie. I know I'm not alone! Nat is such a true badass with a heart of gold and a certain skill set that will never let things get dull. She could have her own mini series and I'd never get bored watching! Bring on the movie!
ComicBook.com: What makes Thanos such a compelling villain?
Tini Howard: To me, it’s simply that he can have anything he wants, and he’s still unhappy and cruel. That he frames his decisions as tactical and necessary, but they’re all driven by something deeply emotional -- unrequited love.
Your Thanos series is taking a deep dive into the relationship between Thanos and his adopted daughter Gamora. What’s the foundation of the relationship between these two?
Traditionally, Thanos has told us that he adopted and raised Gamora as she was destined to kill the Magus. But just like in real life, the truth isn’t always that neat. We do things for the reasons we tell people, and then we have our own reasons. Both are the truth.
Will we see a softer side of Thanos since your new series is set in the past? Or has Thanos already become the Mad Titan we know and hate?
To me this is a Thanos who has already gone through everything we see in Aaron and Bianchi’s Thanos Rising, so softness is out of the question. We get vulnerability, but no softness. And vulnerability is something Thanos doesn’t like showing -- because he’s too used to taking advantage of that in battle when anyone else shows theirs.
Why does Thanos (both in the comics and in the movies) use children to advance his agenda?
Haha, I actually just wrote something in a recent issue addressing his use of children. I think he’s a little scared of them. Children are weirdly determined and unbothered by social pressures. They don’t think a lot about "normal."
Does Thanos have any redeeming qualities? Do you think he loves Gamora (or any of his other surrogate children/followers?)
I do think he has good qualities, but I think "redeeming" is something that’s not really in the cards for him at the moment. I don’t think there’s anything in him that will ever make him a hero in our eyes, and my book doesn’t change that.
I have a very clear idea of what feeling he has for Gamora, but I don’t think it’s right to call it love. I’m still thinking about that, haha. Stay tuned!
Considering that Gamora has opposed Thanos for years and recently killed him in Infinity Wars, do you think that the two will ever reconcile… supposing that Thanos somehow returns to life?
I’m not entirely certain that reconciliation is what either of them want! We’ll see as the series goes on, but... Gamora is looking toward the future while she’s telling us a story about the past
Will Gamora ever be able to move out from under Thanos’ shadow? It seems like, to some extent, she’ll always be tied to him no matter what she does.0comments
He’s irrevocably put his big purple thumbprint on her, sure. If you’re like me, you’ve had moments in your life where one day your mom or dad’s voice just seems to come out of your own mouth, you’re turning into your parents and it scares you.
Well just remember, it could be worse. You could be Gamora. ;)