Actress Scarlett Johansson took issue with the portrayal of Black Widow in Iron Man 2 while promoting her upcoming Black Widow film.
Johansson specifically took issue with what she describes as the character’s “hyper-sexualization” in Iron Man 2 in a newly published interview with Collider that they claim was done back in 2019 to promote the film’s then 2020 release.
Johansson is prompted by Collider to discuss the topic when they asked, “There is a sort of sexualization of superheroes. How did that effect Black Widow?”
She responded, “Yeah. It definitely has changed and I think part of that change has probably — it’s hard because I’m inside it, but probably a lot of that is actually from me too.”
“I’ll be 35 years old and I’m a mom and my life is different. Obviously, 10 years have passed and things have happened and I have a much different, more evolved understanding of myself,” she continued.
She went on, “As a woman, I’m in a different place in my life, you know? And I felt more forgiving of myself, as a woman, and not — sometimes probably not enough. I’m more accepting of myself, I think.”
Johansson then went on to discuss the “hyper-sexualization” of Black Widow in Iron Man 2, “All of that is related to that move away from the kind of hyper-sexualization of this character and, I mean, you look back 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?”
She continued, “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. What does he say?”
After being prompted by Collider’s Ashley Robinson, she continued, “‘I want some.’ Yeah 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.”
Johansson elaborated, “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.”
She concluded, “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. Evolve. I think it’s pretty cool.”
This isn’t the first time Johansson has talked about hyper-sexualization.
Back in November 2019 she appeared on The Hollywood Reporter’s Oscar Actress Roundtable where she said she regretted being typecast as “hypersexualized.”
She answered a question from The Hollywood Reporter’s Rebecca Ford who asked, “I’m curious how important it is for all of you to shift what people expect of you based on your choices?”
Johansson responded, “It’s so different now. The climate is so different now. There are so many wonderful opportunities for women of every age to play all different types of people.”
She went on to recount how she believed she was typecast, “I feel when I was working in my early 20s and even in my late teens and early 20s, I felt that I got somehow typecast. I was very hyper-sexualized.”
She went on to say, “I guess at the time seemed okay to everyone. It was another time. Even though it wasn’t part of my own narrative. It was kind of crafted for me by probably a bunch of dudes in the industry. And I guess that worked then. But it was really difficult for me to try to figure out how to get out of being an ingénue or the other woman, because it was never anything that I had intended. I had been working since I was eight years old and certainly that was never a goal of mine.”
“I, sort of, had to shake it up a little bit because I just couldn’t seem to, I just didn’t want to work on stuff that I knew how to do and knew I could do it and it was like, what is this? I remember thinking at the time, maybe I need a different job in this industry that would, sort of, be more fulfilling ’cause there seemed nowhere to go,” Johansson continued.
She went on to detail how a stint on Broadway changed her outlook, “And so, I actually had the opportunity to do a play. To do an Arthur Miller play on Broadway and it totally reset my whole way of thinking about how I could work and what the different kind of opportunities could be available to me.
She added, “And it’s amazing how theater is limitless. And it just felt so, even though it was terrifying, it felt, it was liberating because I actually felt that every night I had the opportunity to change the narrative.”
“And I had, as Lupita had said earlier, you have control of your own fate on stage to some degree and you’re in charge of your own destiny up there,” she concluded.
What do you make of Johansson’s comments about Iron Man 2 and being “hyper-sexualized?”