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Scarlett Johansson says Black Widow was ‘hypersexualized’ in ‘Iron Man 2’

Black Widow was sexualized in ‘Iron Man 2’ when she was first introduced, according to Scarlett Johansson

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Natasha Romanoff in “Black Widow.”

Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) as Black Widow in “Black Widow.”

Jay Maidment, Marvel Studios

“Black Widow” star Scarlett Johansson recently criticized “Iron Man 2,” in which her character is introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for sexualizing her character.

  • “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?” Johansson said, according to HelloBeautiful.com.
  • “Really talked about like she’s a piece of something, like a possession or a thing or whatever,” Johansson said, per HelloBeautiful.com.

Indeed, Black Widow, whose real name is Natasha Romanoff, is quickly desired by Tony Stark in the film. Stark tries to flirt with her as she shows off her moves in a boxing ring at one point.

  • “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 said, according to BBC News.

Johansson said her self-worth was “probably measured against that type of comment” in the past. Now, she has a bigger opinion of herself because the sexualization of Black Widow has cooled off.

  • “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,” she told reporters, according to Collider. “Evolve. I think it’s pretty cool.”

I will say, one of the biggest takeaways from the 61.5 hour, 22-film Marvel Cinematic Universe marathon was the evolution of “Black Widow.” In “Iron Man 2,” she is a side character who is presented as a somewhat love interest for Stark. But as the movie evolves she becomes a heroic character. Here’s what I wrote about her:

  • “It’s amazing when you watch these films back to back how much of it is still Tony Stark’s story, and how skillful Black Widow is. Her character has seriously become one of the best in my eyes.”

Correction: This article previously suggested Johansson talked to Collider.com exclusively about this subject. She actually spoke in front of a number of reporters, including HelloBeautiful.com, which asked the original question. For more information, The Wrap has a story about the comments and the sourcing confusion.