Scarlett Johansson: Black Widow is not ‘a sexual ornament to the male superheroes’


Scarlett Johansson covers the Spring Edition of DAZED, which I guess is either an off-shoot or a new version of Dazed & Confused? I have no idea, really. I can barely keep up with these lower-tier magazines. ScarJo is promoting… well, that Under the Skin movie where she plays an alien or something. She’s also promoting The Winter Soldier, the Captain America sequel. Marvel recently announced that they were developing a stand-alone Black Widow film for Scarlett, although from the way Kevin Feige made it sound, this would be several years away and they don’t even have much of a story right now. Scarlett would be the first female comic-book heroine to get a stand-alone film at Marvel. How does that make you feel?

In a recent interview – and this might be the DAZED interview, I really can’t tell – ScarJo talked about the Black Widow and aliens and such. Some highlights:

Developing the Black Widow: “I like the way Black Widow has been developed as an intelligent and complex female character. Instead of being sexual ornaments to the male superheroes, Black Widow has been given an interesting storyline and she has the kind of depth that allows you to do serious work and that’s why audiences have responded to these films.”

Being engaged to a Frenchman: “Look, I’m with a Frenchman. I think jealousy comes with the territory. But I’d rather be with someone who’s a little jealous than someone who’s never jealous. I didn’t think I was a jealous person until I started dating my current, my one-and-only… Maybe in the past I didn’t have the same kind of investment. Not that I liked my [former] partner less, I just wasn’t capable of it or caring that much.”

Super-heroine films: “I would never have expected this but it’s been a really pleasant experience. A lot of the superheroine films that were made in the past were not very good but Joss (Whedon) has got away from the hair-flipping, hands-on-hips kind of posing and created a very credible, professional, dangerous, and mysterious superhero in Black Widow. I’m very fortunate to be a part of these Marvel films because they have a lot of substance, actually. Even though the size of the films is just gigantic, the characters and the conflict and inner turmoil between all of us is really complex.”

Black Widow: “I love playing her and it creates a positive image of a sexy, intelligent, and formidable young woman. She’s not an ornament, she’s a vital presence in the films and not simply there because she struts around in a tight-fitting suit. Her physicality is a big part of her image, but she’s also a smart and imposing kind of woman.”

Sexualized roles: “Over the years I’ve been very fortunate to collaborate with cosmetics campaigns and clothing campaigns, to be photographed by the best photographers and make beautiful pictures and all of that stuff. I’ve been able to use it to my [looks] to my advantage in some ways. In other ways, it can be very frustrating at times because I’ve always thought of myself as being a character actor and you can be placed in this specific stereotype that the media puts you in, but the fact is that a lot of the work that I’ve done isn’t necessarily overtly sexual.”

Living in NYC: “In New York I can walk everywhere and no one ever bothers me. People in New York, when they see a celebrity, they look, shrug their shoulders, and continue on. I live a relatively normal life, ride the subway, going to the grocery store, walk down the street. I don’t live in hotels, or get bodyguards. And, if ever I have a problem, I just jump in a taxi.”

[From Yahoo News]

I’ve only seen Scarlett as the Black Widow in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, and I was not impressed with her at all in Iron Man 2. I thought she was decent in The Avengers, though. Mostly I think Marvel keeps her around so it won’t be a full-on sausage party and because Scarlett is known as “the hot girl.” Plus, she was ornamental in Iron Man 2. They gave her a bigger part in The Avengers (but even then her role was somewhat negligible), and from what we keep hearing, she’s got a bigger role in The Winter Soldier. Is Marvel just slowly building the character or are they just keeping her around so Marvel will look like they don’t have a woman problem?


Photos courtesy of DAZED, WENN.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

51 Responses to “Scarlett Johansson: Black Widow is not ‘a sexual ornament to the male superheroes’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. LAK says:

    Dazed and confused isn’t a lower tier magazine. It’s a completely different audience as in super trendy fashionista edgy cool….not the same audience as the Marie Claire/Vogue (though it tries)/good housekeeping etc.

  2. GIRLFACE says:

    She’s known for two things: her smile and her eyes.

    • Ok says:

      She’s known for two things alright. They are both below her neck however. :).

      But she does have lovely facial features as well.

      • magz says:

        HAHAH I agree!

      • GIRLFACE says:

        That’s what I was getting at. Her rack sells movie tickets. She is an okay actress but she shouldn’t kid herself she has an ass and large boobs. Yet she isn’t a sexual ornament in tight spandex? Plz. Even when women lead these comic book movies, the sexy is the number one priority.

  3. Alli says:

    That jealousy quote is old. I’ve read it before months ago.

  4. HH says:

    “Scarlett would be the first female comic-book heroine to get a stand-alone film at Marvel.”

    Are we not counting Elektra with Jennifer Garner? Although made to be a heroine in the movie, I guess technically that’s not her true role.

    • Shantal says:

      Elektra is not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it was produced by a different studio.

      • MonicaQ says:

        It *is* part of the Marvel Universe, just part of the Marvel Fox Universe (Daredevil, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Wolverine) and not Marvel Disney Universe (Iron Man, Avengers, Captain America).

      • Shantal says:

        No. MCU refers specifically to the films produced by Marvel Studios. The Fox movies are based on Marvel characters, but are not part of the MCU.

    • Dommy Dearest says:

      Fox or Sony owns the rights to Elektra, can’t remember which one since I try to put that movie out of focus.

    • MaiGirl says:

      Not that it matters in regards to the point you are making, HH and Shantal, but Elektra wa also beyond atrocious. I’d like to pretend that it never happened, as it was one of the most disappointing theatrical experiences of all time.

  5. mentalTorpor says:

    I don’t know how ScarJo got the role but she’s lucky to have it. I guess they keep her around because she bargained her contract well or in a way that didn’t offend and because Black Widow is actually quite a big character.
    considering how much weight Black Widow’s name carries within the Marvel Universe (to the point that Wolverine needed weapons range training from her.) I’m kinda appalled at how long the movie is gonna take and the language they use when suggesting this movie. Lots of maybes and we dunno yet. Not a good sign.

    • Dommy Dearest says:

      Scarlet was cast after Emily Blunt had to drop out due to her pregnancy.

      • Shantal says:

        What are you talking about? Emily Blunt has one child who was born like a week ago.

      • Bridget says:

        Emily Blunt wasn’t pregnant, but had already signed a contract to be in Gulliver’s Travels, which shot at the same time, and they wouldnt let her out to be Black Widow. So in came Scarlett.

      • Dommy Dearest says:

        Ah well then I was wrong on one part. I don’t follow Emily at all and at the time I read she was pregnant. Whoops >_>

        But I knew it wasn’t Scarlet at first.

    • Lilacflowers says:

      Marvel Cinematic Universe contracts tend to be long-term for 6-9 films. Marvel may choose not to use the character but the actor is tied to the contract.

      • Bridget says:

        But Emily Blunt doesnt have a contract with Marvel, and it was in fact her contract for Gullivers, with a different studio, that kept her from IM2.

  6. Lolo-ology says:

    I can see them keeping her around as a token against potential claims of having a woman problem, especially since DC (as a publisher) really does have a woman problem. They have, like, less than a handful of both women writers and women artists, and it shows in the work they’ve been putting out. Or, Marvel could legitimately be trying to be cool. I don’t know. They also just seem more easy going and relaxed than DC/Warner Bros. Plus, now that they’ve got a freaking cgi raccoon, they can’t be all, “a woman movie?? No, no, that can never work.” Whereas DC/Warner Bros strikes me more as a stuffy, uptight older brother who’s way too into being serious and broody, and won’t make a heroine film for fear of ridicule or some stupid ish like that.

  7. Zbornak Syndrome says:

    What are the Black Widow’s “powers”, other than kicking butt and having ample cleavage? I’m not a Marvel buff so I ‘m honestly wondering.

    • dahlianoir says:

      Russian spy with a nice cleavage, that’s it.

    • lunchcoma says:

      She doesn’t have “powers” per se. She’s an ordinary human who’s trained in combat and espionage.

    • rrabbit says:

      In the comics, Black Widow is the team leader of the Avengers when Captain America is not on the team. Hot heads like Thor, Iron Man, or Hawkeye do not make good team leaders.

      She has received a Super-Soldier Serum (similar to the one Captain America got), and thus has slightly superhuman physical and mental abilities.

    • MonicaQ says:

      What lunchcoma said. The Avengers idea was to mix talents of a lot of different people. So you got gods mixed with millionaire playboy philanthropist geniuses and so on. She was created during the Silver Age of comics which was during the height of the Cold War. In the comics, she is quiet nuanced and never quite know *exactly* where her allegiance is. For a comic nerd and a history nerd, it’s great.

    • Dommy Dearest says:

      Uh, she does have powers. Just like Cap and Winter Soldier, she has the super soldier serum. Not the exact formula as Captain America but she does. She’s a highly trained, highly skilled assassin that can be in and out with the information she needs and the entire building dead. Don’t hate on the character because Johansson only offers tits and ass for the role. The actual comic character is more badass than any of your female heroines combined.

    • MaiGirl says:

      Yeah, I wanna have ScarJo’s back on this one, but as played by HER , mind you, the character is weak and booby–exactly the sexual ornament she claims not to be. To be fair, the writing for her character isn’t great, but as an actress, she doesn’t have the intelligence and gravitas to play this character well. I hope that by the time they get the BW movie off the ground it will be too late to use ScarJo and the role will have to be recast with someone more kick ass.

    • Lilacflowers says:

      Black Widow is supposedly a highly trained assassin with, as she puts it in the Avengers, “a certain skill set.” She supposedly is superb at interrogation and it is supposed to play as a huge coup when she determines that “Loki intends to unleash the Hulk” in the Avengers but knowing that Loki wants to unleash the Hulk doesn’t stop the Hulk from ripping the heliocarrier apart, nor does she get the more important information like: Loki plans to have a military unit, led by Hawkeye, attack the heliocarrier and help him escape or where Loki has sent the tesseract or where his army is going to attack. But, that’s all writing and not the fault of the character or the actress.

      • Dommy Dearest says:

        But that’s the thing. Loki meant for everyone to look at his right hand while his left was busy with the real plan- if you get the reference. He wanted to be taken in, prime example in him not fleeing when Stark and Thor go at it. And he could have easily teleported out of the glass ‘cage’. Widow got duped, not Loki. God of Lies. But a lot of people can’t give the villain enough credit a lot of time when something like that happens.

  8. Aria says:

    First cover = perfection.

  9. Marty says:

    The Black Widow character from the comics is actually a really interesting and cool story, but watching Scarlett was like watching paint dry.

    And character actor? Really?

    • JaDeRu says:

      This was my reaction as well. Character actor? Francis McDormand is a character actor and can act circles around Scarlett.

  10. ItSetsYou says:

    “Not that I liked my [former] partner less, I just wasn’t capable of it or caring that much.” -Is she hinting she was never into Ryan Reynolds that much? Ouch.

    • mercy says:

      She seems to be saying she liked him as much as her current guy, but she was lacking something in herself that made her incapable of caring so much that she could feel jealousy. It could be a passive aggresive swipe, but if it is it seems like a clumsy attempt. Jealousy to me is a sign of insecurity, not proof of love (or like, as she puts it). If you’re secure with yourself and your relationship, it lessens the opportunity for jealousy in my experience.

  11. MOPine says:

    S.J. is an attractive woman and a pretty good actress. I am personally happy she’ll get a chance to shine as the star of one of these superhero movies. Why not her? I enjoyed her performances in both ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Iron Man 2’.

    • SonjaMarmeladova says:

      She’s a horrible actress. I always imagined someone like Lara Pulver as Black Widow.

  12. Candy love says:

    If the Black Widow stand-alone film is several years away from happening would Scarlett be the first female comic-book heroine to get a stand-alone film? Or would they get someone younger because by them Scarlett around 37/38 in seven years..

  13. pleaseicu says:

    I wouldn’t mind the Black Widow and a stand alone if it were anyone but Scarlett in the role. She cannot carry a movie herself. She was horrible in Iron Man 2 and barely passable in Avengers IMO. What saved her presence in the Avengers was having decent chemistry with her co-workers.

    And really, of all the Marvel female characters they could do a stand alone film about, Black Widow is the least interesting and least unique because HW has done the badass, tragic past female spy film before. Salt comes to mind on that front. And it’ll be hugely impossible IMO for Scarlet to ever beat Angelina Jolie in the bad ass female spy genre. And the SHIELD tv show with the various female spy characters at various stages of their careers is basically the plot of whatever Black Widow Marvel could come up with.

    How about an actual super-heroine film with one of the female Marvel characters with actual super powers? It’s great that Marvel is considering a stand alone female film and it’s great that they expanded Black Widow’s role. But they don’t get a pass and a pat on the back, IMO, for ignoring the wealth of other interesting female characters in the Marvel stable that they could introduce and focus on as well. Not while they’re still introducing multiple male-character focused Marvel films for phases 2 and 3 and still only have Black Widow with any serious development. Geesh, I have a lot more feelings about this than I thought. lol

  14. BendyWindy says:

    Maybe she’s not watching the same movies I’m watching. Black Widow thusfar is just pretty window dressing. Very, very pretty window dressing, to be sure. But I’m not sure Iron Man 2 or Avengers would have suffered in her absence.

    • Dommy Dearest says:

      She’s talking about the actual comic character I think. I’m a huge comic fan and I thought Black Widow in the movies were full of lackluster. The potential is there to make an awesome stand alone but it’ll have Winter Soldier in it for sure, as well as Hawkeye and maybe a little Captain footage.

  15. lunchcoma says:

    I think The Black Widow started out as window dressing, but I also think that Marvel is slowly building the character. They’re clearly (and I think unreasonably) skittish about adding characters who aren’t white dudes to their roster, and I think they want to introduce them slowly to make sure any movies built around them have a strong following before release.

    • Gretchen says:

      I think this skittishness also creates an environment of self-fulfilling prophecy: the studios worry that audiences won’t react well to – or care about – non white dude heroes, so they underinvest in their character/independent story arc development. Audiences are in turn disappointed by these characters, so the studio doesn’t see the point in developing them further…thus the cycle continues.

  16. dizzylucy says:

    I’ve only seen her as BW in Avengers and I thought she did pretty good with it. Either way, it’d be nice to see a female comic hero movie made.

  17. Migdalia says:

    I guess I’m in the minority in liking Scarlett and I enjoy all her a$$kickery in the films. The development and direction of Black Widow in these films are hardly her fault. I think the fact that Elektra bombed at the box office really set having a superheroine stand alone back a whole lot. However that was almost 10 years ago and Elektra wasn’t that great of a character in Daredevil. My guess is they’re testing the Black Widow popularity with Iron Man 2, Avengers, Avengers 2 and Cap 2 first which yes…sucks when you think about it.

  18. mercy says:

    If we have to be inundated with these films for the foreseeable future, there shouldn definitely be room for many characters that aren’t white and male. I would say it’s too bad they couldn’t find a better actress, but really she is perfect for this kind of role: comic book character in a skintight suit. With any luck it will be a massive success and consume most of her time, limiting the possibility of her appearing in films I actually want to see.

  19. Naddie says:

    Was Emily Blunt really going to be Black Widow? I think she’d have been amazing. Scarlet wasn’t bad, she just couldn’t dodge from the sexy-kick ass-cold-blooded-with a-heart spy stereotype. If they wanna make a decent heroine, they gotta stop oversexualizing her.

  20. aquarius64 says:

    Scarlet is not a “sexual ornament to the male superheroes”?

    Take a look at the “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” movie poster and you make the call: