Scarlett Johansson is questioning the objectification of her Black Widow character, aka Natasha Romanoff, in 2010's Iron Man 2.
In a roundtable interview focused on the Johansson-led Marvel Studios blockbuster Black Widow, the actress looked back on her first portrayal of the superhero assassin when prompted by a writer for HelloBeautiful, an outlet focused on celebrating diversity among women.
"You look back at Iron Man 2 and while it was really fun and had a lot of great moments in it, the character is so sexualized, you know?" the actress said. "Really talked about like she's a piece of something, like a possession or a thing or whatever."
As BBC notes, Black Widow has become a staple in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing in seven movies. Johansson reflected on the character's evolution from beginnings as what she characterized as a "piece of ass."
"And Tony [Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr] even refers to her as something like that at one point. What does he say? 'I want some'. Yeah, and at one point calls her a piece of meat and maybe at that time that actually felt like a compliment. You know what I mean?"
Johansson added that her value in a supporting role was "probably measured against that type of comment" regarding her physical appearance, but, like Black Widow, her own self-worth has grown with time.
"I'm more accepting of myself, I think. All of that is related to that move away from the kind of hyper-sexualization of this character," she said.
"Now people, young girls, are getting a much more positive message, but it's been incredible to be a part of that shift and be able to come out the other side and be a part of that old story, but also progress. Evolve. I think it's pretty cool."
Black Widow, which is set before Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, is due out on July 9 after being delayed for over a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.