- Scarlett Johansson expressed discomfort and dissatisfaction with her early Black Widow costumes, feeling they were oversexualized and impractical for her role as a spy.
- She has been subjected to sexism in the media, being objectified and asked inappropriate questions about her appearance and undergarments, instead of focusing on her talent and achievements.
- Johansson took a stand against Disney for breaching her contract by releasing the Black Widow movie on streaming platforms, leading to a settlement after a public dispute.
Having been in the spotlight since the early age of nine, Scarlett Johansson has had to deal with more than just simple name-calling. The actress had made a name for herself in the entertainment industry, long before landing the role of a Marvel superhero. Although Johansson has been booed at a film festival, rejected from roles for being too old, and was ’embarrassingly over-qualified’ for her earlier films, she still managed to break through to Hollywood and become the highest-grossing box office star of all time.
No question that portraying the Black Widow of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been the biggest role of the actress’ career that earned her global stardom. Gaining worldwide recognition for such a massive role has had its perks, but also its downsides, as she was one of the first female superheroes in Marvel.
Black Widow first appeared in Iron Man 2 as Tony Stark’s assistant, who was actually an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Although this was an important step in Johansson’s career, she openly discussed her discomfort with certain areas of the job — specifically her costume.
Scarlett Johansson Despised Her Black Widow Costume
Johansson has openly admitted that she wasn’t the biggest fan of her Black Widow costumes in the early days of her Marvel career. The costume was visibly designed to enhance her body features for the audience, rather than to make sure that Johansson feels comfortable and confident wearing it.
In her interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actress confessed that she felt uncomfortable and objectified in the outfit. She thinks that the outfit was oversexualized, and not very practical for a spy performing various fighting stunts.
Johansson has never wanted to be a sex symbol, despite being labeled as such on every occasion. The actress didn’t appreciate people hyperfixating on her looks, instead of admiring her talent.
“I wanted to be a character actor. But I think women who are curvy can be pigeonholed in that bombshell thing. What can I do about it?”
Johansson thought that Natasha Romanoff was overtly sexualized, right from her first appearance in the franchise.
“They really talked about her like she’s a piece of something, like a possession or a thing or whatever — like a piece of ass, really. And Tony even refers to her as something like that at one point.”
The Black Widow actress also pointed out that she’s happy that things have been moving in the right direction, and she’s glad to be part of the change. A great example of the positive change would be the Black Widow movie costume designer Jany Temime tweaking the costume to “fit the reality of a woman’s body.”
The designer’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed, given how the costume has become the most comfortable outfit Johansson has ever worn for Marvel.
The Marvel franchise has never prided itself on female representation, especially in its early beginnings. Although Black Widow has been part of the crew since the inception of the on-screen Avengers, she was the only female representation that the audience had, besides a few supporting characters.
And, as Johansson has pointed out, she’s been used more as an object for the male gaze, rather than an actual superhero to look up to. Additionally, only a few films in the Marvel franchise actually pass the Bechdel test, which measures the number of times two female characters have a conversation about anything other than the male characters.
Johansson has faced this sad reality even outside of portraying the character. The double standard treatment by the media has been so obvious, that “Scarlett Johansson shutting down sexist comments for 5 min straight” video has 12 million views on YouTube.
In one instance, Johansson called out a reporter for asking the male cast existential questions, while she gets asked about her diet and fitting into her Black Widow costume — not to mention what she wears under it.
The media outlets don’t shy away from constantly grilling Johansson about her thoughts on being a sex symbol for the male audience, even though she’s talked about how it means more to her when she can be an inspiration for young girls.
Believe it or not, the media has repetitively not hesitated to ask questions about Johansson’s underpants for the costume as well.
Johansson Has Had Other Issues With Disney
As an outspoken activist against sexism in Hollywood, Johansson has once reflected on being pressured into provocative roles in her earlier career. Given how the Black Widow movie started to shape into a real project during the #MeToo movement, it was anticipated that Johansson would stand up for herself when wronged.
Johansson sued Disney for a huge breach of contract which forbade the corporation from releasing the Black Widow movie on streaming platforms while it was still playing in theaters. This decision severely diminished Johansson’s earnings, as they’re usually based on the box office performance.
Despite giving Disney months to fix this error, they claimed that the lawsuit “has no merit.” Although Disney used the excuse of Covid, and kept throwing Johansson under the bus, Disney and Johansson managed to eventually settle the lawsuit.