Scarlett Johansson: Captain America: Civil War

April 5, 2016
The in-demand Scarlett Johansson is ready to slip back into her skin-tight jumpsuit to play the lethal Black Widow in the hotly anticipated superhero mash-up, Captain America: Civil War.

“There exists a world in which a really awesome spinoff could exist,” says Scarlett Johansson on the set of Captain America: Civil War when asked if she could envision her name on the marquee of a Black Widow stand-alone movie. “The character certainly has a rich origin story, and the fans have responded to our interpretation of the character in this series. There’s a place for it, and I can imagine many different scenarios where it could be something interesting and dark. It could have its own flavour. But I don’t think we’re anywhere close to that.”

“There exists a world in which a really awesome spinoff could exist… But I don’t think we’re anywhere close to that.”

So there you have it: though now indelibly connected to the role of the highly skilled assassin, Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (after having played her in Iron Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the two Avengers movies, and now Captain America: Civil War), there’s next to no chance of Scarlett Johansson toplining her own film as The Marvel Cinematic Universe character. The actress, however, shares a rich, deep bond with the striking, sassy, but deeply flawed Black Widow. “The character has grown as I have grown,” Johansson says. “It’s unprecedented. All of us have been playing these characters in different installations, and for a long period of time. It’s unprecedented in the sense that we’ve been able to develop these characters with different directors, with Marvel allowing us to have free reign. I’ve been lucky to not have this character handed to me. I haven’t had to fit within a boundary that has been placed around me. I’ve had a lot of input from the very beginning. [Avengers and Avengers: Age Of Ultron director] Joss Whedon started that trend, very early on. He met with all of us individually before we shot Avengers, and he talked to me about what attracted me to the character, and what were the parts of the character’s origin story that I related to.”

The character of Black Widow was hauntingly expanded in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, where the truth about her roots as an operative were revealed, and the deep well of sadness at her core was expertly plumbed. This metaphorical stripping back of the character continues in Captain America: Civil War. “She allowed herself to be vulnerable, and to be open to someone else,” Johansson offers. “She is open to the possibility of a future that she chooses, and that is not chosen for her, which has been her life up until this point. She is able to put herself out there, even though it has a painful result and open end. But just knowing that she’s capable of letting someone else in makes her a much stronger person. So as opposed to going down the route of being bitter and twisted, which would have been the easy choice, she’s empowered by the experience that she’s had. She digs her heels in even deeper and realises that her strengths are her ability to strategise. She goes back to her roots. It’s interesting where we find her here because we realise that, in fact, she’s quite a practical person.”

Captain America: Civil War revolves around Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man’s (Robert Downey Jr.) wildly divergent philosophies on how accountable they need to be to both the US government, and the world’s population, in light of the mass destruction caused at the end of Avengers: Age Of Ultron. That divergence ultimately leads to an all-out superhero war, in which Black Widow surprisingly sides with Iron Man over her regular ally, Captain America. “Marvel had an idea of what side they wanted her to be on, and I think that it makes sense for her to choose,” Johansson says. “You can imagine her on either side. Certainly it makes sense for her to side with Cap, but there are a lot of arguments for the other side too. Let’s not forget that she’s not one to take things personally. So, the side that she chooses is really a strategic one, and she has strategic reasons for choosing that side. And I certainly had a part in deciding how and why she goes where she goes. But this is very fluid. It’s not a thing that is set in stone. We’re not following any specific guideline that were set for these characters because of the storylines that Marvel has chosen to invest in.”

“Let’s not forget that she’s not one to take things personally. So, the side that she chooses is really a strategic one… And I certainly had a part in deciding how and why she goes where she goes.”

In Captain America: Civil War, however, Marvel is investing in a more serious story, and Black Widow’s engaging playfulness when fighting beside Captain America might be taking a back seat, particularly with the heroes on opposing sides of the fence. “This film doesn’t feel very playful,” Johansson frowns. “There are playful elements, obviously. You have to have light moments, otherwise it’s a movie made by a different studio, I guess. Cap and I have our moments as two people who really understand one another and have compassion for each other. There’s still room for that in this film. But there’s a lot more going on, so you have to fight to keep those moments. [Directors] Anthony and Joe Russo, because I was fortunate to work with them on Captain America: Winter Soldier, have a soft spot for this relationship. They understand the value and closeness between Cap and Natasha. It’s something that we hope the audience remembers and holds on to and looks for in this installment.”

Installments. It’s a word all too familiar to both the fans and stars of The Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Marvel Studios crafting a whole slew of interlocking and interconnected feature films and TV series. As with all of the Marvel movies, Captain America: Civil War will tip towards the next films (Doctor Strange, Avengers: Infinity War Parts 1 and 2) in the extended franchise. “We’re looking forward towards the next films for the characters,” says Johansson. “We’re looking at the next steps for these characters, or how it could make sense for them to fit in or not fit in in various phases. The strategy of working on these films is just different. You’re kind of thinking of the mindset of someone who’s going to be making decisions later on in the future. Working in a franchise like this is just different in that way.”

Captain America: Civil War is released in cinemas on April 28.

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