T'Challa: We do what we have to— Natasha. Natasha: Don’t tell me you knew I was tracking you the whole time. T'Challa: You were the best the Soviet system ever created. People like me hire people like you. Of course I knew. Natasha: Don’t make me have to— T'Challa: I would never fight a woman. I have people for that.
Among the responses I got to this post were a couple of (understandable, valid) concerns about the Black Widow/Winter Soldier fight sequence in Captain America #27. Let it be known that it is the opinion of fuckyeahblackwidow that Natasha could kick Bucky’s ass, she just didn’t that one time because, well, sometimes even losers gotta win. That shield meant more to Bucky than it did Natasha, and that’s a whole bunch of what counts in superhero fight logic. Another day, another circumstance, I think she could destroy him.
But I think there’s something to be gained in comparing Captain America #27 and this scene Black Panther #23, which was published a few months earlier. I mean, not only does T'Challa just dismiss her sneak-fu as insignificant because of some imaginary employer-employee dynamic that has him as the perpetual boss of her, he also just dismisses her as a physical threat on the basis of gender, flat-out. The idea is that she’s not even good enough to try fight him, so instead, T'Challa sends his harem of potential brides to beat her up. And they do beat her up, because T'Challa is just that badass, and he can disable her weapons without her noticing with the power of his giant mind. Man, I want to like Hudlin’s Black Panther because it pisses off racists, but bullshit like this makes it really hard.
But yeah, I think there’s a worthwhile distinction between losing a fight, and a flat-out indignity.
From Black Panther #23, by Reginald Hudlin and Koi Turnbull.