Scarlett Johansson and Black Widow, the wild card of ‘Iron Man 2’


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Tony Stark breaks all the rules (even the one that says superheroes must keep a secret identity), and he always seems to comes out on top -- that’s why we love him. But now comes ‘Iron Man 2,’ a film about secret dangers, the sins of the father and the nasty price of modern celebrity. The movie lands May 7 in the U.S., and every day until then, we’ll have behind-the-scenes scoops on the summer’s most anticipated film.


Which Black Widow will show up in ‘Iron Man 2’?

Scarlett Johansson has the role of the dangerous (and dangerously curvy) mystery woman who shows up in the life of Tony Stark with less-than-clear intentions. Director Jon Favreau has made it clear that her presence in the film is to add some dramatic strain to the relationship between playboy-turned-hero Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and his brainy factotum, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).

‘She is not what she presents herself as, but I don’t want to say more,’ says Favreau, who is well aware of the Marvel Comics heritage of the character but is also quite comfortable with keeping what he likes and jettisoning what doesn’t serve his story arc -- just look at the changes to Justin Hammer and Whiplash,who are markedly different from their namesakes in the comics.

‘It’s fun,’ he says, ‘to keep people guessing. Part of the comics is the mystery surrounding character and then the sexual dynamic but also the cold-blooded efficiency like the spider.’

Widow made her first appearance in the comics in the Cold War year of 1964 as a seductive Russian spy, but a few years later her story took a twist as she became a defector. The character has been both villain and hero and, in her most interesting incarnations, a proud wild card who turns on the spy agencies who employ her. Favreau said Johannson was so eager to get the role she dyed her hair red for her meeting with the director to help him visualize her in character.

‘She’s the best,’ the director said. ‘You forget how young she is when you deal with her because she is such a smart woman. I get why Woody Allen has worked with her so many times because she is such a smart, smart woman. She asks the right questions, she’s got that intelligence, but she’s also very trusting in a director. And she busted her butt training.’

-- Geoff Boucher


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