Scarlett Johansson Critiques How Black Widow Was Hypersexualized Upon Entering the MCU

Scarlett Johansson is glad to see the industry evolving after playing Natasha Romanoff for over 10 years. In a recently published Hello Beautiful piece, the actress addressed a group of reporters in a press pool for her upcoming Black Widow feature film and discussed the “hypersexualization” of her character when she first entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Iron Man 2.

“I have a much different, more evolved understanding of myself as a woman. I’m in a different place in my life,” she explained when asked how the MCU has changed during her tenure. “I feel more forgiving of myself as a woman, sometimes probably not enough, but . . . I’m more accepting of myself, I think. And all of that is related to that move away from the kind of hypersexualization of this character.” Johansson pinpointed Iron Man 2 as a key example of her character’s objectification. She said although the film was “really fun and had a lot of great moments,” Black Widow is “so sexualized” in it.

She recalled her character being “talked about like she’s like a piece of something and like a possession.” Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr’s role, utters the line “I want one” in reference to Natasha. “Maybe at that time maybe that actually felt like a compliment. You know what I mean?” she said. “My thinking was different . . . my own self-worth was probably measured against that type of comment more, like a lot of young women probably feel.”

But today, Johansson understands her own self-worth better and sees a positive transformation in the character, too. “It’s changing now. I think a lot of young girls are getting like a much more positive message,” she said. “It’s been incredible to be a part of that shift and be able to come out the other side.” Catch the standalone Black Widow during its worldwide premiere on July 9.

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