Learn all about the black widow archetype, including definition, characteristics, examples and how it relates to the Lover archetype.
What is the Black Widow Archetype?
The archetypal Black Widow is a beguiling femme fatale, one who lures male victims into her web and then does as she wishes to them with seeming ease and lack of conscience.
Her targets comprise of any unsuspecting man who has something that she wants.
She makes use of seduction of any and every variety, whilst making the man she targets think that he wants and is enjoying her seductive attentions, in order to secure her desires and get her way. She is an expert at deception, sounding credible whilst all the time feeding her victim lies.
Black Widow Archetype Characteristics & Traits
- Power and control are not necessarily the Black Widow’s primary motivation – she is far more likely to be interested in material gain or status than in literal domination over others.
- She enjoys the finer things in life – comfort, luxury, adoration of others and being able to enjoy life without having to work for the things she possesses.
- If she is able to achieve all of this then she is able to shield herself from the vulnerability which she so fears.
- The Black Widow’s identity is truly wrapped up in her femininity and sexuality.
- Whilst she exudes a sense of control, confidence and power this is all in fact related to her belief in her sexual and seductive appeal, and in fact can hide a deep-seated vulnerability and fear of how her life may be should she not be able to secure the things she desires from her targets.
- She is likely to find it hard to envisage what her life may be like without a man by her side to provide for her and would not thrive on living along and independently.
- This desire to secure a man can also make her an unreliable and untrustworthy friend to other women.
- If the man she desires happens to be already in a relationship the Black Widow sees this as just another obstacle to overcome, not seeing this as a boundary over which she should not cross.
Black Widow Archetype Examples
An example of an archetypal Black Widow was the character of Catherine, played by Theresa Russell, in the film Black Widow.
Catherine is the villain of the piece, who marries wealthy men and then kills them as soon as she is sure she has been named the main beneficiary of their will. The character of Catherine displays all the traits of a Black Widow.
Seductive and alluring, she was able to build herself into whatever type of woman she believed would appeal to her intended victim.
Further reading on the black widow archetype includes:
- Marvel’s the Black Widow: Creating the Avenging Super-Spy: The Complete Comics History Hardcover – by Michael Mallory
- Marvel’s Black Widow from Spy to Superhero: Essays on an Avenger with a Very Specific Skill Set – edited by Sherry Ginn
- Beyond Bombshells: The New Action Heroine in Popular Culture – by Jeffrey A. Brown