Scarlett Johansson criticizes sexualization of Black Widow in Iron Man 2

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Scarlett Johansson, Black Widow, sexualized, iron man 2

Scarlett Johansson may be proud of most of her Marvel journey but when it comes to Iron Man 2, she has some choice words about how she was portrayed in the film.

During an interview with "Collider", Johansson began by pointing out that her character has evolved over the years and part of that has been due to her own growth as a person and an actress. Once Johansson started speaking on her start in the MCU, the actress pointed out that the way Black Widow was portrayed in 2010's Iron Man 2, was completely oversexualized. Here is what she had to say:

"All of that is related to that move away from the kind of hyper-sexualization of this character and, I mean, you look at Iron Man 2 and while it was really fun and had a lot of great moments in it, the character is so sexualized, you know? Really talked about like she’s a piece of something, like a possession or a thing or whatever — like a piece of ass, really. And [Tony Stark] even refers to her as something like that at one point… ‘I want some’ [says Tony] … and at one point calls her a piece of meat and maybe at that time that actually felt like a compliment. You know what I mean? Because my thinking was different. Maybe I even would have, you know, my own self-worth was probably measured against that type of comment or, like a lot of young women, you come into your own and you understand your own self-worth. It’s changing now. Now people, young girls, are getting a much more positive message, but it’s been incredible to be a part of that shift and be able to come out the other side and be a part of that old story, but also progress."

She isn't entirely wrong here. The character isn't given much depth to speak of in that film as she and Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury are shoehorned in to begin setting up in The Avengers. There are also moments when she is treated more like an object rather than a human being. The example that Johansson is referencing in the quote involves an undercover Natasha sparing in a boxing ring with Tony’s assistant/bodyguard Happy (Jon Favreau) where she quickly takes him down. Afterward, she asks for Tony’s fingerprint on a document. As Tony watches her walk away, he tells Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) “I want one,” and Pepper replies, “No.” 

Even though Johansson is speaking on the matter, it doesn't mean she's calling out Marvel in a negative way. She's merely saying that there has been significant growth since her debut in Iron Man 2 and her own evolution as a person and an actress makes her view that time much differently. Johansson says "10 years have passed and things have happened and I have a much different, more evolved understanding of myself … as a woman, I’m in a different place in my life." This is someone reflecting and maybe thinking how she would've handled certain things differently." 

The character has certainly evolved beyond her early beginnings and that's thanks to Johansson's input and different writers giving her more layers. As she embarks on the release of her own standalone film, Natasha Romanoff is exactly where Scarlett Johansson wants her and that evolution has been great to watch across her various films in the MCU. 

What are YOUR thoughts about how Black Widow is portrayed in Iron Man 2?

Source: Collider

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