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During a press day at The Beverly Hilton Hotel for Captain America: The Winter Solider, in which she reprises her role as Natasha Romanoff, code name Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson sat down with our small group to field a few questions. It’s not everyday for me that I get such a phenomenal opportunity to be in the same room with such talent, but I did, and I enjoyed every second of it. Scarlett was glowing and it was easy to tell she knows her character, Black Widow very well.
Erupting into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Iron Man 2 (2010) and later reprising her role for Marvel’s The Avengers, which set the all-time, domestic three-day weekend box-office record at $207.4 million, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow has become a truly admired comic book character. Black Widow first appeared in the comic book Tales of Suspense in 1964 as an antagonist to Iron Man. Years later, Black Widow was changed into a hero and eventually made the sixteenth official member of the super hero squad, The Avengers.
As you’ll see in latest release from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Natasha Romanoff is Steve Rogers’ biggest ally and together, with the help of the Falcon (Anthony Mackie), they join forces to stop a covert enemy hiding in plain sight. Can’t give too much away just yet; don’t want to spoil the movie for you if you haven’t seen it yet.
Scarlett plays a Russian spy that eventually defected to the United States, becoming an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, and an interracial member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s even rumored Black Widow could eventually get her own movie. There “is such great source material I think it would be wonderful to have the challenge of doing a female superhero movie where the protagonist didn’t kind of rest on her feminine wiles and, you know, use every opportunity to strike a sexy pose in order to get the job done.” Johansson added and went on to joke that if the fans’ voice is loud enough that a Black Widow movie could in fact happen. “That’s the great thing about Marvel, the fans drive the “train”, so to speak, and Kevin Feige is such a fan of all the source material on Black Widow”.
“When we first meet Natasha and Steve, it’s kind of in real time, so a couple of years have gone by and they have worked on many different missions together,” says Scarlett. “They have gotten to know each other better, so they have more ease and banter to their conversations. I really like the dynamic because their friendship is far more interesting than if they were to have a romantic relationship.”
In this film Black Widow is like cupid? Why the transition?
Scarlett: First of all, when the character is talking to Loki (The Avengers), she’s kind of putting up this front, obviously. She’s not, as we come to realize, being completely honest with him. It’s partly for her widow face that she wears. And in this film we really get to see a lot more Natasha. I like to think that Natasha has a romantic side.
She’s been really damaged. I think that she very early on in the past, [and] probably learned to not care too much about people because they could be easily taken away from her and used against her. She probably didn’t want to hurt the people that she loved the most. And so she never needs them or never invested too much in them knowing that they would probably be put in danger.
I think she sees someone like Cap who could really have his life enriched by sharing it with somebody. That she sees someone that kind of yearns for that but is also scarred by the series of events have changed his life. And maybe she kind of sees in Steve a little bit of herself and wants something more for him.
Do you enjoy having your character mature?
Scarlett: Of course, when I went in to do Avengers, after having done Iron Man 2 which I don’t know a lot about the character. I sort of see her in widow mode. I met with Joss and we started talking and he did a bunch of research. Because now at this point it was like, all right, we’re invested in this character. I didn’t know if the character would work, or the audience would like her. Like my version of her.
Once it became clear they did and I got the opportunity to explore more of her back story in Avengers, it really started to kind of carve out what my kind of version of Natasha, what my reality could be. Obviously, it’s one of the oldest female superheroes. Probably the oldest one, and she’s got this vast library of source material and has had many incarnations and many different people have their hand in her stories.
She’s made all kinds of connections and love interests and failures, and she’s been good and bad in everything. We wanted to make sure that the story felt contemporary, obviously. You know, I wouldn’t have a cold war kind of back story, did it make sense, and we had to kind of tailor it to my AGENT, like what my experience would be. It’s been great to be able to reveal little pieces of that. I think it’s kind of like these little Easter eggs for the fans.
I’ll wink at the audience when you kind of learn a little bit about her, you know, KGB past, or whatever kind of task she’s been set on.
Tell us about the stunts you did.
Scarlett: My wonderful stunt woman by the name of Heidi Moneymaker – that’s her real name. This is our third movie together, she’s played the Widow every time along with me. So we really have worked together from the beginning to develop this fighting style that you see. We want to keep the consistency of it and it’s such a playful kind o fighting style.
Tell us about the Black Widow costume.
Scarlett: It’s the most comfortable of the superhero suits. It doesn’t require a built-in air conditioner unit, like Thor’s does. I don’t have under armor, nor a large cape, or a headdress. It’s kind of like a wet suit. I’m always amazed when it goes on and zips up. I’m like, wow, it’s on.
Widow’s costume is totally empowering because you get on the belt, gloves, bracelets, and guns and the boots and you know, it looks great. It’s bad-ass. I’ve grown to love it. First I was terrified of it, now I embrace it, because it embraces me.
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Black Widow continues to be one of Marvel’s most popular female characters since her creation by Stan Lee. I hope to eventually see Scarlett starring in her own film for Black Widow. You can see more of Scarlett as Black Widow in The Avengers: Age of Ultron coming May 1, 2015.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier in theaters April 4th!