collider – From the set of ‘Black Widow’ back in 2019, Johansson talks about her character’s long journey.
In 2019, Disney brought Collider and a few other journalists to London to visit the set of their highly anticipated new MCU movie Black Widow, which was in production at the time. Little did we know that the film’s planned 2020 release date would be pushed back over a year, making the wait for the Black Widow movie even longer.
Black Widow is now due to cinemas on July 9, 2021 (as well as being simultaneously released on Disney+ via Premier Access), which means we can finally share what we learned while on the Black Widow set. We were fortunate enough to speak with several people who worked on the film, including Black Widow herself Scarlett Johansson, who has portrayed Natasha Romanov (the titular Black Widow), since 2010.
We spoke with Johansson about legacy of Natasha in the MCU and how the character has evolved since her debut in Iron Man 2, and how her characterization in that film was hypersexualized. We also discussed her relationship with her sister-not-sister Yelena Belova, played in the film by Florence Pugh, and how the relationship between Natasha and Yelena changed before filming began.
So, Yelena seems to be a key part of Natasha’s redemption arc. Could you talk a little bit about that potential?
SCARLETT JOHANSSON: Yeah. We knew we wanted to include the Yelena character really early on, but that character really transformed over the months of prep that we did and development. The character kind of felt very — I don’t know how to say this. I guess what I would say is that the story of two women competing against one another and trying to take each other down and sort of dethrone one another felt uninteresting. It just didn’t feel like what I wanted to explore and I think what, really, audiences wanted to see. It just felt very old fashioned and not true, and so taking that feeling and running with that instinct, the relationship developed into what it is, which is it’s a relationship that I think is grounded in a shared experience and a knowingness and a sisterhood. With that comes many complicated feelings, of course. Not all good, fuzzy ones, but real grounded ones. It’s a very special relationship. I think it will be very touching for a lot of people. I have a lot of empathy for that relationship and for both of those characters’ history and trauma, and that shared history, as dark as it is, brings them together and there’s a lot of love between them. But, their relationship is also contentious and everything else that comes with that kind of sisterly relationship.
I think Natasha has a lot of compassion and that’s not necessarily what I would have anticipated when we were filming Iron Man 2 or Avengers or whatever. You’ve seen glimpses of it and it’s developed over time, as we’ve been able to bring the character to the forefront in different instillaments, but she’s a very compassionate person and that passion is actually what drives a lot of her decision making. I mean, she’s also practical and pragmatic and I don’t think those two things have to necessarily work against each other. That part of her is what really touches me.