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SYFY WIRE Scarlett Johansson

Black Widow's Scarlett Johansson wants 'inherently female' heroes, not 'Batman in heels'

By Jacob Oller
Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow was the Marvel Cinematic Unvierse's first female superhero, and the first big-screen female Avenger. Natasha Romanoff broke a lot of ground — and she doesn't even have superpowers. The Avenger, who met her tragic and heroic end during the course of Avengers: Endgame, is finally getting her own standalone film about her origins, her messy found family of Russian super-oddballs, and is now looking forward to the future of female superheroes — who she hopes follow her example.

Speaking to EW, the actress explained that she was only interested in a Black Widow movie if it offered her a chance to expand from her role in the team films. "I’ve been working for such a long time, and I have to feel like I’m challenged," Johansson said. "I don’t want to do the same thing that I’d already done before.” That means focusing not on the tight outfit or the cool gadgets, or even the badass martial arts, but on the woman herself.

“I think this character’s strength really lies in her vulnerability and her acceptance of that,” she said. “She has emotional intelligence that has allowed her to survive without any real superpowers. She’s someone who is a problem-solver. She’s a pragmatic person. I think a lot of those qualities are inherently female.”

Female-fronted superhero movies have recently leaned into their leads' specific strengths and experiences as women — look no further than Black Widow's MCU compatriot Captain Marvel. But Johansson wants this to become the norm rather than something to write home about. “I hope that this film continues pushing that boundary, so that we can actually have more female superheroes who are inherently female, and aren’t just Batman in heels or whatever,” the actress said.

As far as Black Widow's part in this movement, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige chimed in that the film was going to focus on much more than checking Natasha's empty boxes. “A prequel that simply filled in the blanks of things you already know is not very exciting,” Feige said. “How does she get her Widow stingers for the first time? How did she learn to do a flip? That doesn’t matter.” Instead, it'll be about her old ragtag family and how she became a "full person from all these broken pieces," as Johansson puts it.

She's joined in the solo film from director Cate Shortland by Melina (Rachel Weisz), Red Guardian (David Harbour), and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) when Black Widow drops into theaters on April 24.