Over a decade after her introduction into the MCU, Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow is finally getting her time to shine in the solo spotlight. Black Widow will soon premiere in theaters and on Disney+ worldwide, however, the road to get there wasn't particularly easy character-wise.
Originally introduced under the alias of Natalie Rushman in 2010's Iron Man 2, Natasha had to do a fair bit of climbing to get to her currently coveted status in the MCU as an OG Avenger.
From pretending to be Tony Stark's assistant to fleeing from the feds after the events of 2016's Captain America: Civil War, the Black Widow has largely been an under-the-radar role.
Nonetheless, in every project Scarlett Johansson has been featured in, her character has received her fair share of marketing material and promotion. Yet, these materials and promotions have arguably evolved over the years to focus on more humanized aspects of the actress and character rather than her initially perceived status as an MCU bombshell.
In fact, the way Natasha was brought into the MCU was through quite stereotypical means as Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark immediately looked for photos of her character in lingerie upon laying eyes on her.
Now, a Marvel executive who's overseen the character's MCU journey reflected on Black Widow's introduction, specifically through a line spoken by Tony Stark...
BLACK WIDOW WAS EYE CANDY FOR TONY
Victoria Alonso, Executive Vice President of Production at Marvel Studios and a co-producer on Iron Man 2 and Black Widow, told Time that actor Robert Downey Jr.'s line as Tony Stark about Natasha when she was introduced still "bothers me now."
In the Iron Man sequel, Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark asks Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts who exactly Natasha is after she takes down Happy Hogan in the ring. Pepper replies with "Potentially a very expensive sexual harassment lawsuit." Either way, Stark begins searching for explicit photos of Scarlett Johansson's character, stating "I want one."
Alonso claimed that the latter line never felt right with her and that "It bothered her then" as well. She recalled thinking that Natasha is "not a thing:"
“It bothered me then and it bothers me now... I remember thinking, ‘She’s not a thing.’ But how apropos: the world sees a sexy woman and thinks that because she is beautiful, that’s all she has to give.”
TAKING AWAY NATASHA ROMANOFF'S SEXUALIZED PERCEPTION
This exchange between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts in Iron Man 2 wasn't the only time Natasha Romanoff was outwardly sexualized in the film. Later on, Natasha changes into her spy suit in the backseat of a car Happy Hogan is driving. After nearly crashing due to trying to sneak a peek at her, Natasha curtly tells him to "watch the road."
Moreover, the aforementioned marketing for Scarlett Johansson's spy in Iron Man 2 and other MCU films has been said to have focused more so on her bodily assets.
When compared to recent marketing materials for 2021's Black Widow, a distinct difference can be noted in what the viewer's attention is immediately drawn toward.
Nonetheless, the fact that Victoria Alonso is still bothered by Robert Downey Jr.'s line over a decade later speaks to just how much the character has gone through not only on the screen but in the public's perception of her.
An important factor about the upcoming Black Widow film is that Scarlett Johansson herself served as an executive producer, overseeing how Natasha's story was told both visually and on paper.
Johansson has claimed time and time again her love for the character, and she herself has also spoken on these same frustrations Alonso has had over the years.
Either way, progress is being made in addressing these mishaps and moving on in a day and age where actors/actresses, producers, and fans alike are fighting for characters to be properly depicted both on and off the screen.
Black Widow will premiere in theaters and on Disney+ via Premier Access on July 9, 2021. The Black Widow collection is also available to stream on Disney+.