Scarlett Johansson Shared How Black Widow’s Power Changed, Said It Started in ‘Her Sexuality’ but ‘Became Her Vulnerability’

Scarlett Johansson played one of the six original Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but she didn’t get a solo project until 2021 after Black Widow died in Avengers: Endgame. And when the MCU first introduced her character, she was frequently sexualized. However, ten years later, Johansson managed to turn what Marvel created as a one-note character into a profoundly complicated and inspiring superhero.

'Black Widow' star Scarlett Johansson wears her hair up in a bun and pink dangly earrings.
Scarlett Johansson | Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Scarlett Johansson played Black Widow in the MCU for 11 years

Marvel introduced the world to Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff in the 2010 film Iron Man 2. At the time, she was an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who Tony Stark hired as his assistant. Later, Nick Fury and Natasha revealed her true identity to the billionaire.

She then became one of the founding members of the Avengers Initiative in The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Natasha also helped Steve Rogers expose S.H.I.E.L.D. as HYDRA in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And she became a fugitive after violating the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War.

Natasha, along with Steve and Sam Wilson, came out of hiding to help fight Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. She was one of the survivors of Thanos’ snap at the end of the movie. And in Avengers: Endgame, she sacrificed her life to bring back everyone they lost.

Finally, in 2021, Scarlett Johansson starred in her MCU solo movie, Black Widow. The film took place in the missing years between Civil War and Infinity War, and fans learned more about Natasha’s past. Natasha, a fugitive, reunited with her adopted family, including her sister, Yelena Belova. Together, they dismantled the Black Widow program.

The actor explained the evolution of her superhero character

While on the press tour for Black Widow in 2021, Scarlett Johansson spoke with Collider about the sexualization of Natasha Romanoff and how her character changed over the years.

“I think actually Natasha uses her sexuality as a means to feel, to sort of manipulate a situation and then be coquettish and sly, and then she’s going to take your legs out, right?” Johansson shared. “She’s going to be seductive in this way, and that’s her power. Her power’s in her sexuality, and then that changed over time, right? Her strength was actually her vulnerability.”

The actor continued, “That’s the kind of place that we’re in now. And then, in Endgame, she sacrifices herself out of love. She saves her friend. She saves everyone. And I think that just being in that kind of headspace and being able to make that decision, that selfless act is so incredibly powerful. It’s amazing that she could be in that place to do that.”

Scarlett Johansson then praised how Black Widow and director Cate Shortland authentically portrayed Natasha.

“With Cate, it’s just been so liberating because she’s not afraid of any of the ugliness or — it doesn’t need to be ugliness, it’s even embarrassing or uncomfortable parts, like the soft underbelly, all that,” she said. “That’s what she wants to make movies about. So you see Natasha’s in her real, true strength in this film more than ever before.”

Scarlett Johansson is still working with Marvel even after Black Widow’s death

Although Natasha Romanoff died saving the world in Avengers: Endgame, Scarlett Johansson is returning to Marvel. But, this time, she’ll be stepping behind the camera as a producer.

Per Entertainment Weekly, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige announced her return during the American Cinematheque Award ceremony. He revealed, “We are already working with Scarlett on another non-Black Widow related top-secret Marvel Studios project with her as a producer.”

The unknown project will be the second time Johansson works as a Marvel producer, after executive producing Black Widow.

Black Widow, along with all of Scarlett Johansson’s other appearances in the MCU, is available to stream on Disney+.

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