MCU Stars Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner Made a Tasteless Joke About a Co-Star in 2015, and it Wouldn’t Fly Today

Marvel’s superhero franchise launched several of its celebrities such as Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, and Scarlett Johansson into superstardom. Between standalone films like Iron Man and Thor, along with ensemble flicks including the Avengers, movies from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe are guaranteed to be box office gold.

While the actors who represent the caped crusaders tend to stay out of any sort of controversial headlines, Captain America’s Chris Evans and Hawkeye’s Jeremy Renner had to make amends for an off-color joke they made in 2015 that probably would have received even more backlash in today’s Me Too era.

MCU's Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans on day 2 of Wizard World Comic Con New Orleans
Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans of Marvel Cinematic Universe | Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner comment on Black Widow

In a 2015 interview to promote the film Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Digital Spy journalist opened the conversation by asking Evans and Renner about any potential romantic storylines with co-star Scarlett Johansson’s character, Natasha Romanoff.

“I have a very serious question to start with about shipping,” the interviewer began the talk with the two Marvel stars. “I know a lot of fans were pretty invested in the idea of Natasha with actually either or both of you guys and now obviously she’s with Bruce (Mark Ruffalo’s ‘Hulk’). What do you guys make about that?”

Renner’s reply was quite unexpected. “She’s a slut,” Renner responded, which prompted Evans to burst out laughing.

“I was going to say something along that line,” Evans agreed, cracking up. “She’s a complete whore.”

The journalist attempted to get the interview a bit back on track. “Whatever movie it is, she’ll just be the sidekick?” she asked of Johansson’s Black Widow. “She’ll be flirting?”

“Yeah, that’s right,” Renner replied, as the two celebs continued chuckling.

“She’ll just flirt with everybody,” Evans said. “Leading everybody on.”

The interviewer then moved on to the premise of their new film.

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MCU stars issue an apology

Apparently, the joke from the two superhero stars didn’t go over well with fans, prompting a quick apology from both Evans and Renner.

“Yesterday we were asked about the rumors that Black Widow wanted to be in a relationship with both Hawkeye and Captain America,” Evans said in a statement the following day, according to Entertainment Weekly. “We answered in a very juvenile and offensive way that rightfully angered some fans. I regret it and sincerely apologize.”

Renner also tried to make amends, commenting on the pressures and long work days involved in promoting their film.

“I am sorry that this tasteless joke about a fictional character offended anyone,” Renner stated. “It was not meant to be serious in any way. Just poking fun during an exhausting and tedious press tour.”

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Jeremy Renner doubles down on Conan

Despite issuing an apology, Renner seemed to defend his supposed comedic commentary in an appearance the following month on Conan O’Brien’s show. When the talk show host brought up Renner’s controversial joke, the Marvel actor seemed to stand by his original opinion.

“Yeah it was a joke, off-color, whatever,” Renner said, commenting on the social media backlash he received when O’Brien raised the topic. “I got in a lot of internet trouble. I guess that’s a thing now.”

The two continued the conversation, where the Hawkeye actor tried to back up his comments with something of an explanation.

“I was asked the question, like, ‘So Black Widow has been linked to Hawkeye, Iron Man, Bruce Banner, and Captain America. So what do you think about that?’ ” Renner recalled. “I said, ‘It sounds like she’s a slut.’ Mind you, you are talking about a fictional character and fictional behavior but if you slept with four of the six Avengers, no matter how much fun you had, you’d be a slut.”

The controversy quickly died down and clearly had no impact on the success of Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was another box office smash for the franchise.

Even though the actors made the dubious comments before the Me Too movement came to the forefront, Evans and Renner were still brought to task to be more mindful of how they refer to their female co-stars, even in the fictional sense. The two Marvel stars may have faced more serious consequences had they made those statements within the Me Too era, where sexist characterizations of females are no longer tolerated.

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