Scarlett Johansson Filming Solo Might Prove the MCU Relies Too Much On CGI

Marvel fans should be reading reports of how Black Widow was the number one movie this past weekend. Instead, they’re looking at set photos of Scarlett Johansson and finding out she lives a rather lonely life when filming fight scenes.

It’s no secret that Marvel movies use a lot of computer-generated imagery. Most Marvel movies simply wouldn’t be possible without them. All the same, fans were still surprised to see Johansson performing a fight scene by herself because she’s one of the few characters who don’t require CGI in some way. 

Fans discuss Scarlett Johansson’s solo run

Scarlett Johansson on the red carpet
Scarlett Johansson | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

The topic came up on a Reddit discussion when a fan posted a picture of Johansson in her Black Widow costume running against a green screen.

It was a production photo of the airport battle from Captain America: Civil War, when Black Widow was on Team Iron Man. One of the things fans like about Black Widow is the very fact that she doesn’t require a lot of CG. 

“I always thought Black Widow’s best work is her psychological / interrogation stuff (the kick-ass scenes are great too tho) … But you don’t get enough of that IMO — and they made her more into the all action soldier and less about the spy. Hopefully the standalone movie has more of her “covert” type stuff, but I’m not holding my breath.”

The trailers for Black Widow do seem to emphasize more of the physical action, such as the fight between Natasha and Yelena, Florence Pugh’s character who is supposedly another Black Widow. But even that final trailer has a “money” shot of what looks like a mid-air skydiving fight that has all kinds of CG. And that disappoints some fans. 

Do Marvel movies rely on CGI too much?

Few people would realistically expect MCU movies to use no CGI at all. And yet there’s a school of thought that Marvel, and other big movie franchises besides, use CG as a crutch. In the early days of Iron Man, for instance, some of the suits were practical and some were CG. As time went on, however, practical suits were used less and CG suits were used more. 

Granted, this was largely because the Iron Man suit was physically uncomfortable to wear. And as one fan pointed out, there was a practical reason that Johansson shot the scenes the way she did. 

“Everyone else had suits and masks and were flying or swinging, Scarlett doesn’t have a mask on so by adding her via CGI they need to spend unnecessary amounts of money to successfully CGI her face and hair which is known to be tricky. It’s way cheaper to just let her run solo and digitally add everyone in around her.”

What is Scarlett Johansson doing now? 

Johansson is coming off a banner year, having not only starred in Endgame, but also scoring her first two Oscar nominations in the same year, for the acclaimed satire Jojo Rabbit and the drama Marriage Story. She would have spent this past week doing press for Black Widow, but she found another way to get in some stunt work. 

Johansson was one of several actors to participate in a social distancing stunt show started by Zoe Bell, the stuntwoman best known for working on Quentin Tarantino’s movies.

In the video, one actor would throw a punch. In the next video, another actor would reel back from the “hit’ and then respond with a haymaker of their own.

Besides Johansson, other fighters included Florence Pugh, Margot Robbie and Marvel stuntwoman Heidi Moneymaker, one of Johansson’s own doubles. 

Minute for minute, that video might prove to be at least as exciting as Black Widow itself.