The new issue of Entertainment Weekly will give us an initial peek at Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, Marvels Comics' iconic and butt-kicking femme fatale known as the Black Widow, in Jon Favreau's upcoming Iron Man 2.
Romanoff, originally portrayed in the comics as a Soviet-trained superspy in a Mrs. Peel-style skintight outfit and carrying an array of Bond-like gear, has over the years been part of the superhero team the Avengers, an agent working with S.H.I.E.L.D., referred to as Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division in the first Iron Man movie, and a love interest for Daredevil.
Johansson will be joining returning stars Robert Downey Jr., as industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man, and Gwyneth Paltrow, as Stark's assistant, Pepper Potts. Don Cheadle will be taking over the role of Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes from Terrence Howard. Mickey Rourke, fresh off his comeback role in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler, will appear as villain Whiplash.
The inclusion of the Black Widow character, along with the cameo by Samuel L. Jackson as S.H.I.E.L.D. chief Nick Fury at the end of the first Iron Man movie and Downey's cameo at the end of The Incredible Hulk, lays more foundation for the announced Avengers movie, now reported to be scripted by X-Men sequels writer Zack Penn and scheduled for release in 2012.
Iron Man 2 hits theaters May 7, 2010.