Scarlett Johansson spoke out against the sexualization of Black Widow in Iron Man 2, the 2010 blockbuster in which her character first appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series.
Speaking to Collider in the run-up to the standalone film Black Widow’s release, Johansson said, “Although [Iron Man 2] was really fun and had a lot of good times, the character is so sexualized you know? [She is] really spoke like she was 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 it.” “
Johansson appears to be referring to the scene in Iron Man 2 when, as Natalie Rushman, Black Widow first meets Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr). After flipping through a series of photos of Rushman, including one of the characters in lingerie, Stark tells Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts, “I want one.” (Potts previously called Rushman a “very expensive sexual harassment lawsuit if you keep ogling her.”)
Johansson added, “Maybe at that point it sounded like a compliment. You know what I mean? Because my way of thinking was different… My own worth was probably measured against this type of comment. [but], like many young women, you thrive and understand your own worth.
Johansson went on to say that “the young girls are getting a much more positive message” and that “it has been amazing to be a part of this change and to be able to come out on the other side”.
Johansson praised the “distancing kind of hypersexualization of this character” in the new Black Widow movie, which stars Florence Pugh and is directed by Cate Shortland. She said: “I am a mom and my life is different. Obviously 10 years have passed and things have happened and I have a much different and more evolved understanding of myself. As a woman I’m in a different place in my life, you know?