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

Scarlett Johansson attends the EE British Academy Film Awards ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall on 02 February, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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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