May 09, 2015 | 10:47 a.m.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Scarlett Johansson’s spy-assassin Black Widow stands apart from the rest of the Avengers. Widow, also known as Natasha Romanoff, doesn’t have superpowers, a stand-alone film or a plethora of action figures. Until the events of “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” she was the team’s only female member. And unlike her Avengers companions who have families and friends outside the super-team to protect, Widow lacks human ties to the world she’s trying to save. “Age of Ultron” explores Widow’s desire for connection, revealing her painful past and redefining her role on the team. “Regardless of gender, characters work when they have substance and when they are grounded in something that is visceral and true,” Johansson told the Los Angeles Times last month. “I loved that she is sort of this reluctant superhero, that she is kind of a […]
May 05, 2015 | 11:59 a.m.
Warning: This post contains spoilers. Rumors are buzzing about the reasons behind “Avengers: Age of Ultron” director Joss Whedon’s decision to leave Twitter, with some observers blaming fan backlash about Black Widow’s role in the Marvel film. Portrayed on the big screen by Scarlett Johansson, Black Widow, a.k.a. Natasha Romanoff, is a spy who abandons U.S.S.R. secret ops to fight for the good guys, joining S.H.I.E.L.D. and later the Avengers Initiative. One version of her origin story in the comics reveals that Natasha was raised by the so-called Black Widow Ops program at the covert “Red Room” complex, brainwashed from childhood and trained in combat and espionage. It’s this back story that makes its way to the silver screen in Whedon’s “Avengers” sequel in an emotional exchange between Widow and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, with both characters lamenting their inability […]
May 04, 2015 | 5:30 p.m.
Marvel fans have been wondering whether Scarlett Johansson will ever suit up for a Black Widow solo movie, following in the footsteps of Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America. If the studio ever gets around to it, they now have a hilarious “Saturday Night Live” spoof to remind them of what not to do. When “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” co-star Johansson hosted “SNL” this weekend, it didn’t take long for her perpetually supporting role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and the state of onscreen female superheroes — to be skewered on the episode. The spoof arrives at a time when Marvel Studios — and the superhero genre at large — has come under fire for the representation of female heroes on the big screen. A new batch of leaked emails from the Sony hack, posted at Wikileaks.org, indicates that Marvel Studios is still wary of […]
April 30, 2015 | 5:00 a.m.
Elizabeth Olsen is doing more than bringing the Marvel Comics character Scarlet Witch to the big screen in Friday’s tentpole film “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” She’s also doubling the number of women on the Avengers roster. “It’s really cool, and I don’t take it for granted,” said Olsen, 26, a self-professed fan of the comic book film franchise. Previously, Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, was the sole female member of the muscle-bound team of super-studs, comprising Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Chris Evans’ Captain America, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye. With four Marvel movies under her utility belt and a fifth (“Captain America: Civil War”) slated to begin filming next week, Johansson, 30, is a veteran of the flourishing Marvel Cinematic Universe. And she’s eager to welcome more women to the franchise. “For […]
March 04, 2015 | 10:44 a.m.
The new trailer for “Avengers: Age of Ultron” has arrived, showcasing the villainous artificial intelligence at the center of Joss Whedon’s highly anticipated Marvel sequel. “Age of Ultron” reunites Marvel superheroes including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) in a battle against Ultron (James Spader), the evil AI with a robotic body. “I was designed to save the world,” Ultron says at the beginning of the new clip. “People would look to the sky and see hope. I’ll take that from them first.” The clip then goes on to preview images long on spectacle, but also small moments between the characters, too — with Downey’s Tony Stark confessing to Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner his role in creating Ultron, and later, Johansson’s heroine sharing […]
Jan. 10, 2015 | 5:00 a.m.
On Monday it was confirmed that Scarlett Johansson has signed on to star in DreamWorks’ live-action adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell,” but not all fans are embracing the news that the studio is opting for a non-Asian actress to play the lead role. While some fans of the franchise were excited to hear the project is moving further along in development, others lamented or even satirized the decision. “Ghost in the Shell,” based on Masamune Shirow’s manga series of the same name, is set in a fictional Japanese city and follows protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi and members of a covert task force within the Japanese National Public Safety Commission. The task force, known as Public Security Section 9, takes on various cybercriminals in a future where the line between technology and biology is blurred. The manga series spurred Mamoru […]
Oct. 23, 2014 | 3:30 a.m.
The first trailer for “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is out, revealing Tony Stark’s Hulkbuster armor, mysterious newcomers Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch and, of course, the villainous Ultron. Marvel released the trailer, which was slated to debut during next week’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” episode, after it leaked online Wednesday. “Age of Ultron” is director Joss Whedon’s hotly anticipated follow-up to 2012’s “The Avengers,” which united Marvel’s disparate superheroes, including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), in a battle against Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and his swarm of alien invaders. The summer blockbuster set box-office records, earning more than $1.5 billion worldwide, and was hailed as witty and worthy of its hype. “Age of Ultron,” which is due in theaters May 1, will reunite the superheroes as well as […]
Sept. 16, 2014 | 1:25 p.m.
“Avengers: Age of Ultron” ranks as one of the most hotly anticipated releases of 2015 — and now, it’s become a little bit clearer what fans will see when the movie opens next May. Check out the official plot synopsis released this week by Marvel: “When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to The Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for an epic and unique global adventure.” Joss Whedon’s follow-up to his $1-billion-plus 2012 hit, “The Avengers,” will reunite the star-studded cast of […]
Aug. 06, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.
Scarlett Johansson was most recently on screen playing a chemically enhanced drug mule in Luc Besson’s sleeper hit “Lucy,” but it wasn’t the actress’ first action-packed role this year. Back in April, Johansson reprised her role as Natasha Romanoff (better known as Black Widow) in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” conceived as Marvel’s answer to the gripping thrillers of the ’70s. The film, which sees Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers team up with Black Widow on a number of key missions, even as the patriotic superhero comes into conflict with S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford in a key supporting turn), currently stands as the highest grossing domestic release of 2014, having surpassed $259 million at the U.S. box office. Those who missed it in theaters — or simply want to see it again — now have a chance to catch […]
April 19, 2014 | 9:35 p.m.
Luc Besson’s return to full-tilt action filmmaking with “Lucy” revved up the crowd at the Universal presentation at WonderCon on Saturday. Set for release Aug. 8, “Lucy,” written and directed by Besson, stars Scarlett Johansson as a drug mule who ingests some contraband and finds herself with enhanced abilities, apparently because the chemicals enable her to access more of her brain. (Johansson has been on a professional run lately, with turns in films including the Academy Award-winning “Her,” in which she gave voice to a sentient operating system; April’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Under the Skin”; and next month’s indie restaurant movie “Chef,” directed by Jon Favreau). In Anaheim on Saturday, Besson screened two sequences from “Lucy,” the first of which showed Johansson’s character learning to exploit the powers she’s unlocked by taking advantage of more of her […]