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Scarlett Johansson Criticizes Sexualized Black Widow Portrayal in ‘Iron Man 2’

Scarlett Johansson criticizes sexualization of Natasha Romanoff
Paramount Pictures

With the release date of Marvel’s “Black Widow” just looming over the horizon, Scarlett Johansson took the time to reflect on, and note, the evolution of her character and subsequent portrayal over the years — criticizing how 2010’s “Iron Man 2” oversexualized her character. 

In an interview with Collider, Johansson said she’s pleased with the “move away from the hypersexualization of her character.” Still, looking back, she acknowledges that at the time, that treatment was demeaning to her character. 

“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,” Johansson said. “(She’s) talked about like she’s a piece of something, like a possession or a thing or whatever — like a piece of ass, really.” 

The scene in question has Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark telling Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts that he “wants one” after seeing Johansson’s Black Widow take down Tony’s assistant (Jon Favreau) in a boxing ring. 

Video uploaded to YouTube by TopMovieClip

Johansson admitted that, at the time, she took the line as a compliment, as she valued her self-worth against that type of comment. She noted that things are different now, however, and that she’s proud to have been at the forefront of this change — to be able to come out the other side as a part of that old story but also progress. 

“It’s changing now. Now people, young girls, are getting a much more positive message,” Johansson said. “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.” 

Johansson’s upcoming “Black Widow” is a prequel set after the events in “Captain America: Civil War,” and it sees Romanoff confronting a dangerous conspiracy from her past. The film has a final release date of July 9 on theatres and Disney+.