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While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown into a behemoth force in the entertainment industry, Phase One was basically one massive experiment in filmmaking. Scarlett Johansson began her long tenure in the MCU as Black Widow in Iron Man 2, which set up her appearance in The Avengers. But it turns out that Johansson has some criticism for how her character was treated in that movie.
Iron Man 2 isn’t necessarily the most beloved entry of the MCU, but it did see Rhodey becoming War Machine and the debut of Black Widow. Scarlett Johansson’s Avenger is finally getting her own solo movie, but shared her blunt thoughts about the way Natasha was originally treated by the male characters. In her words,
While [Iron Man 2] was really fun and had a lot of great moments in it, the character is so sexualized, you know? [She is] 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 even refers to her as something like that at one point … ‘I want some.’
Well, she’s got a point. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has made impressive strides regarding on screen representation, but Phase One has its faults. In fact, the first two Phases almost exclusively told stories focused on white men. Some of which were making not so kind remarks about Scarlett Johansson’s hero.
Scarlett Johansson's comments to The Guardian help to show how much the MCU, and particularly Black Widow, has changed over the past decade of filmmaking. While Natasha shared romantic connections with heroes like Bruce Banner, she’s given far more respect starting in The Avengers. Nat became one of the most beloved characters in the entire franchise, with fans eager to get some closure in the upcoming solo flick.
Marvel fans can re-watch Scarlett Johansson's time in the MCU on Disney+. You can use this link to sign up for the streaming service.
Later in her same interview, Scarlett Johansson further expanded upon her complicated feelings over Iron Man 2. Specifically, what type of messaging young women in the audience received during those uncomfortable scenes. As she put it,
Maybe at that time that actually felt like a compliment. You know what I mean? Because my thinking was different … My own self-worth was probably measured against that type of comment [but], like a lot of young women, you come into your own and you understand your own self-worth.
Iron Man 2 hit theaters back in 2010, before conversations around the #MeToo movement saw studios making seismic changes to their projects. The MCU is far more diverse now, featuring people of color and women in leading roles. As such, the messaging to young people in the audience is more empowering.
After a decade and change, Scarlett Johansson finally got her own solo movie with Black Widow. The delayed blockbuster is expected to finally explore Natasha’s dark backstory, and give context to her sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame. We’ll just have to wait and see if Florence Pugh’s Yelena ends up having legs in the larger MCU.
Black Widow will hit theaters and Disney+ on July 9th. In the meantime, check out the 2021 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.