After two movies as Natasha, aka Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson tells us that in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this is the first time we are truly getting to know her.
“You know, we saw a little bit of her in The Avengers and we saw a bit of her back story -- and we’ll see more of that in Avengers II -- but in this film, we really get to see Natasha as a person who gets up, gets ready for work in the morning, has a life outside of just her job once she’s out of the suit,” Johansson said.
The actress also said that given what both Captain America and Black Widow are going through at this point in their Marvel universe arc, it's fitting that Natasha join Steve for his second solo adventure.
“She’s a woman and she has her own kind of reality, and as the plot unfolds, we find both Steve and Natasha questioning their own identity. They are realizing that they thought that they had pretty strong beliefs. But at the end of it, they realize, 'Wait, I actually don’t know who I am. I’ve been this sort of hired hand!'"
Both of these characters are kind of left hanging in many ways with how Captain America: The Winter Soldier progresses, a film that rocks the Marvel boat. “In some ways there’s a cliffhanger at the end, because you really see that they’re just cresting the wave of having this huge moment of self-discovery and I think we’ll be able to track where that goes in the next installments,” Johansson said.
Johansson admitted that Natasha has been a fun character to portray and that she has played complex souls before, but there is something truly unique about Black Widow.
“I think Natasha is a bit of a reluctant superhero. She doesn’t necessarily have this really strong golden moral compass. Let’s not forget, she started out her career as essentially a mercenary,” Johansson said.
“I think one of the things that’s very attractive to me about the character is that she uses her feminine wiles as a part of her job, but she doesn’t rely on her sexuality or appeal, physical appeal, to get the job done. She’s extremely smart. She thinks on her feet. She’s a leader and I think has a lot of foresight.”
The actress thinks that those aspects make her a solid soul for young girls to look up to -- particularly in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. “Those are all qualities that I think it’s wonderful to celebrate for young women. And of course, it’s really rad for me to have my friends’ kids look up to that character and dress up like her at Halloween and play with the boys and be rough,” Johansson admitted. “I always say, ‘The Widow always wins!’ And it’s true. And that’s a nice sentiment.”
It is a physically demanding role, clearly, but Johansson was ready for it after doing eight shows a week on the Great White Way.
“I had come off of doing a Broadway run, which is pretty much the most physically challenging thing you can do. I felt like if anything was going to prepare me to have stamina, it was that,” Johansson said. “Everything seemed like a piece of cake after treading the boards for that long.”
Usually she plays characters whose worlds are wrapped up by the time the credits roll. Johansson is enjoying her run as Black Widow, because there seems to be no end -- as of yet.
“I’ve never really had the opportunity to do something like this. It’s an interesting challenge to keep coming back to this character. I have the good fortune of playing a character that’s sort of evolving with each installment that you see her in. I have to understand who this character is and where she comes from and have this rich back story,” she said.
“I think the exciting thing is just scraping away at a little part of that each time to reveal a small part of the bigger picture of her and it’s a very complex character. Over the period of time that I’ve played her, I’ve also grown, as you do in your career, your work, your life. So I feel that this story is becoming more enriched as my own experiences are.”