Was Scarlett Johansson the right choice to play the Black Widow?

Iron Man 2 Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff

Image by Daniel Semper via Flickr

Iron Man 2 had some fundamental flaws. It was crammed full of different story lines, plot drifts and references to the upcoming Avengers movie in 2012. One of its biggest flaws was that apart from the main character Tony Stark, the rest of the cast fell a bit flat. The worst case was Scarlett Johansson‘s character the Black Widow.

In the comics the Black Widow (Natalia Romanova) is a former Soviet spy who was sent to spy on Tony Starks company, but after meeting Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner in the Avengers) she defects to the US and becomes an agent of SHIELD. Her abilities include unmatched athleticism, expert fighting skills, and mastery over various gadgets.

Apart from one brief scene in Iron Man 2 where the Widow attacks some guards from Hammer Industries, the character has been a real disappointment. Despite the character having one of the best back stories in Marvel comics, Scarlett’s portrayal made me wish fellow actor Emily Blunt had taken the role instead. Sure Johansson looks the role of Natalia Romaanova, but her acting came off flat and too similar to her performances in her other movies. I call it Jenifer Aniston syndrome. The Widow is also well known for having a Russian accent, but the guys behind Iron Man 2 seemed to think it would be a good idea to leave it out even though it’s an essential part of the character. Despite fan boy speculation, I doubt we’ll actually see Johansson pull of a Russian accent in the Avengers movie. We’ll just have to get past the butchering of the character. Also the Widow is famous for being a spy, yet her antics in Iron Man 2 seemed like she joined Tony Stark’s company just to do a profile on him for Nick Fury. It’s hardly corporate espionage is it?

Critics and fans have criticised how the Black Widow came off as a constant sex symbol in Iron Man 2 (car undressing scene), but that’s a more of a flaw with the character itself. The Black Widow is known for doing anything that gets the job done, even if it means sleeping or flirting with the enemy.

Another reason why the Widow may be a thorn in the Avengers side is that she’s not actually a full on member of the Avengers in the comics. She’s primarily a SHIELD agent or an Avenger fringe member, yet Marvel have decided the Widow should be a main member of the roster come 2012. Why is this a big deal? It’s because iconic Avengers members such as Ant Man (Hank Pym) and the Wasp (Janet Pym) have been left out to avoiding over crowding the roster on screen. Ant Man and the Wasp are two founding Avengers members in the comics, therefore their exclusion is likely to irritate long term fans of the comics come 2012.

I hope Scarlett Johansson pulls a surprise incredible performance in the Avengers movie. For too long women characters have suffered in superhero movies. After all, we need a character to finally wash the bad taste of Elektra and Catwoman out of our mouths.

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