When Scarlett Johansson was cast as Natasha, the Black Widow, in Iron Man 2, everyone wondered about her credibility as an action hero. But she soon put fans at ease by fully inhabiting the role - and that skin-tight black catsuit. So now she has the chance to put the character to work in the wider Avengers ensemble, and possibly spin-off into her own solo movie.
Contactmusic tracked her down at the London premiere of Avengers Assemble and wondered how she felt about being the only female member of the team.
"Writer-director Joss Whedon met with each of us individually to talk about what we wanted to see from our characters," she says. "But never once did he say anything about my character's gender. We never talked about it. Joss is gender-blind in some way. He wants his female characters to be dynamic and competitive and assured and confident. And that has nothing do with anything but the fact that he just celebrates those kinds of strong female characters."
And Johansson gets much more of a chance in this film to add some textures to the character. "The first time you saw this character, in Iron Man 2, you didn't get to learn much about her because she's a bit of a slippery fish," Johansson says. "But Black Widow is all business! She's sort of in a grey area. In a sense she's been fighting the good fight, despite her dark background. But she's committed because she has to be and her moral ground is more dutiful. She's militaristic in that way, and that's how she knows right from wrong."
Black Widow and Hawkeye are the only Avengers who don't have superhuman powers, which meant rather a lot more stunt preparation for Johansson. "Jeremy and I probably spent the most amount of time in the stunt gym just because we have these huge choreographed sequences that are just, you know, intense. And I'm happy to do that! We have such an amazing stunt team, and I knew a lot of them from Iron Man 2. We spent so much time in the stunt gym that we built a family with those guys. And yes, it's great fun to do it."
Even so, this film meant learning a lot of new moves. "We definitely embraced the Wushu a lot and there's definitely more weaponry," she laughs. "It was a bit complicated because I could pick up all the hand-to-hand movements pretty well, but then [fight choreographer] Jonathan Eusebio would say, 'Oh yeah, here's this giant staff you have to be holding while youÆre doing the movements.'
"So I am like, 'Wait a minute, I had all those movements down and now I'm fighting with a 20-pound giant stick?' I have to be honest, the first time I saw what they had in mind I was like, 'I'm never going to be able to learn this.' So it's just a lot of failures until you get it right. But boy do those failures hurt sometimes!"
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