The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been one of the most polarizing uses of comic-book characters as they have literally sprung to life in the form of Hollywood blockbuster after another.
And when it comes to making their impression as the perfect person for the role, very few come as close as the world-renowned award-winning starlet Scarlett Johansson in her breathtakingly accurate portrayal of the mysterious yet heroic Black Widow.
Black Widow has become synonymous with the positive shift in female roles in the mainstream Hollywood movie-making machine, but it is the artistry behind Johansson’s portrayal of the character that has led to her films having a real impact on pop culture.
Outside of the Marvel canonical timeline, Scarlett Johansson is a mega powerhouse that has starred in independent flicks where she honed her craft like the Coen Brothers' The Man Who Wasn’t There and Sofia Coppola’s 2003 romantic-drama Lost In Translation.
Fans can see how her past experiences with talented people on strong projects have surfaced in every scene she steals, constantly providing a much-needed dose of energy throughout the course of the immense Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Most would be quick to think that she was typecast for her gorgeous looks and amazing figure but upon a closer inspection it is clear that she gave a lot to make sure this role went to the right person.
In honor of Ms. Johansson’s 8th year in the MCU, these are 25 pictures that prove she is beyond perfect for the role.
30 Has Anyone Looked This Good Behind A Computer?
Normally we are used to seeing Black Widow behind the enemy lines trying to infiltrate a base or fighting in huge battles for justice but this shot from Captain America: Winter Soldier is a classy way to show her intelligence in the field of technology. She has shown a great understanding of technology and her respect for the way it mends and transforms battles in the future is unmatched by any other character. On top of this, Scarlett (as mentioned) has a look behind those eyes that says she really knows what is up. Black Widow is sharp, calculative, and one of the most dangerous characters in the entire MCU that does not have powers. That sharpness is on full display for this film and her sleek hairdo only adds to her unparalleled aesthetic of intensity.
29 An Actor Acting As An Actor Who Is Acting
Taking another page from her debut stint as Black Widow, this is an image that showcases how perfect Scarlett Johansson is at portraying the role of someone portraying a role. Sure, she has done it in films like Under The Skin but this was before her dramatic turn as an action/drama star. She looks absolutely fantastic in a pair of high-waisted slacks paired with a crisp-white short sleeve button up shirt that gives her a look of workplace professionalism. Black Widow is a pro at everything she does, and this is one of those situations where she took her role as a recruiter for Tony Stark into complete consideration. She is stylish, prepared, and as we will eventually find out in the ring – a deadly fighter.
28 Ready For Interrogation
This shot is taken from the Luc Besson directed action thriller Lucy, where she plays a woman who is taken and forced into being a substance mule for a highly sophisticated narcotic that has limitless possibilities in terms of brain power acceleration. Sure, the plot is quite wild and it is far from the grounded sense of reality that Luc Besson is known for, but one of the biggest highlights of the film is Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal as the titular character.
She perfectly captures the essence of someone who has no remorse and moral standards in favor of a calculative approach.
Just like in this image right here, we can see the lack of care on her face and the brevity of her actions is a testament to her resolve. Beautifully done.
27 A Slick Way To Start The Avengers
Starting off with one of the promotional images for her first run as an Avenger in the seminal film, this photo shows all you need to know about ScarJo’s portrayal as Black Widow. It perfectly showcases how her perfect figure and deadly looks compliment her costume that very few could rock well. The background with smoldering fire and collapsing buildings just make her look so dangerous. She definitely has the look of someone that is ready to react to the situation in the most heroic fashion possible. That is what makes a superhero so special in these films and there is no one better than Scarlett Johansson when it comes to paying tribute to the source material while providing her own light to the character.
26 Looks That Stop You In Your Tracks (And Them!)
After dispatching a couple of baddies in Iron Man 2, Scarlett Johansson had made her impact already with a massive brawl in which she completely blows any other action scene from the MCU up to that point out of the water. The look on her face says it all as she walks with a swagger that no other superhero has matched on screen. On top of this, she looks absolutely fabulous as her red curls drape gently over her black leather outfit. It takes a special kind of person to rock an outfit like this, and Scarlett Johansson is a gem deeply embedded in the starry night that is the amazing cast of the MCU. One more detail of the image that must be brought up is the cleanliness of the way she took down these goons without spilling any blood. John Wick oughtta take some notes!
25 Misdirecting Us The Right Way
Scarlett Johansson is no stranger to working with some of the most talented directors and there are very few as talented as Christopher Nolan. The two paired up for the film, The Prestige, where Scarlett Johansson plays a gorgeous aide to a magician who is deeply embedded in a rivalry with another magician.
The role in itself is not as large as the roles she would end up being known for.
Yet, it allows her to be able to show off her uncanny ability to morph her gravitational pull of attention from the audience. As fans of the arts would know, magic is all about misdirection, and we cannot think of anyone else who could provide a more entertaining way to be misdirected than the talented Ms. Johansson.
24 Colors That Compliment
Rarely do we get to see a truly colorful piece of cinematography from the MCU films as they mainly focus on the story and action that takes place but this image here is flat-out gorgeous. For one, the hair light over her head makes her red hair look downright angelic. Second, the way the warm color palette of the top of the image blends into the cooler side at the bottom perfectly represents how Black Widow’s breathtaking beauty is just a cover for her cold interior. Of course, it does not hurt that she has a gun in her hand and totally looks ready to shoot whoever it is that is not cooperating with the Avengers, but still, this shows how she really does more than play the part. She makes it come to life.
23 Comic Book Villainry
Trivia time! What was the first comic-book role that Scarlett Johansson received? Those who guessed her debut as Black Widow in 2010’s Iron Man 2 would be wrong. Two years earlier she made her comic-book character debut as the sinister Silken Floss. The character is mainly relegated to being the secretary/ right-hand woman of The Octopus (an evil genius played by Samuel Jackson) but there is a cold demeanor to everything she does in the film. Usually, we see an emotional depth in all of her roles, even in films such as Lucy where she mainly goes after bad guys in unrelenting fashion she still gives small breaths of humanizing drama. The Spirit is characteristically known for feeling like an emotionless film, but in this case, it worked to the advantage of the character.
22 Damsel In Distress? PSH!
Sure, the damsel-in-distress trope is seen as a bit misogynist in our modern era of storytelling but that is what gives this scene that classic plot twist that captures the audience. Black Widow gets herself caught to extract some information from a bumbling oaf of a general. At first glance, it looks like she is just under distress with her hands behind her back and tussled hair along with the scummy setting she is in. Take a further look and you can actually see the scheming brain behind those gorgeous eyes. That puckered look she gives to Black Widow is actually taken to another level in intimate acting as she is hiding a smile under that puckered look. It is the little nuances that go a long way in this business and Johansson is a master at using those nuances to make the role that much better.
21 Trying So Hard
It would be borderline sacrilegious to have a list of some of the best reasons why Scarlett Johansson has become the perfect thespian for the role of Black Widow without mentioning her finest role yet. Here is her role as Charlotte in Sofia Coppola’s romantic-drama masterpiece Lost in Translation. The role is notable for being her breakout role as a film star and Bill Murray’s semi-dramatic turn as her love interest Bob Harris in the film. For those who have not seen the movie, the plot centers on the two American foreigners that are spending some time in Tokyo, Japan.
Bob is there on business but Charlotte is there to support her neglecting boyfriend as he photographs other women.
Even though Bob and Charlotte try to enjoy themselves, there is this lingering feeling that it is all just a temporary distraction from their real problems.
20 Shattering Expectations
There was quite a bit of controversy that surrounded the production of the American adaptation of the iconic Japanese anime/manga Ghost In The Shell. Part of the problem was the fact that the main character was going to be played by a non-Japanese actress but as important as adaptation accuracy is, there was still a silver lining in this casting choice. Of course, Scarlett Johansson is a sizeable box-office draw but it is her acting chops that really made this choice a reasonable one. The film’s story is mainly about the cybernetic enhancements that are starting to creep into the world of technology as Johansson’s Motoko Kusanagi awakens as half-machine following a gunfight. Earlier, we mentioned that cold demeanor that she can give off and her mental collapse into a less-than-human state is shown beautifully through her portrayal of the character.
19 Desire On Her Face
This here is another shot of Scarlett as her indie-darling character in Lost In Translation. Earlier we saw a shot of her in the midst of trying to distract herself from her love life quarrels but this is a much more powerful image at being able to convey her pain. She is in the middle of a crowded city, at the center of technology in a bustling metropolis that is abuzz with opportunistic motion and yet finds herself distracted.
She cannot enjoy life in its most basic form because things have gotten complicated in her life.
Even though Lost In Translation is a pure romantic-drama, that kind of tragic loss of time is the exact kind of experience that led to her master-class role as Black Widow.
18 Ready For Action
Just like the other image from her MCU debut in Iron Man 2, this picture perfectly shows how she brings the serious stature of Black Widow from the comics into the scene. This one is just before she takes down those previously mentioned goons but just like she portrayed that perfect sense of dynamic accomplishment, this time we see the preparedness behind her eyes. It is that kind of subtle intensity that really places her above her Marvel co-stars as Scarlett Johansson is just so good at conveying those meticulous strategist methods that people in the actual military have. That grounded sense of having to perfectly strategize against their enemies is something that goes over the head of most Hollywood actors but ScarJo ain’t like most!
17 Who Says No To This?
Joseph Gordon Levitt was primarily known as a chameleonic actor with boyish charm until his impressive directorial debut in Don Jon. In the film, he plays the titular character who is attempting to find meaning in his love life and navigate safely through the exciting nightlife of Boston, Massachusetts. This is where Scarlett Johansson comes in as a bombshell that changes his perception of women forever. Don Jon is used to seeing every kind of woman and has had no problem dating and dumping every woman but it takes a true beauty to make him try and become a better person. Sounds shallow? That is because the film’s plot is an allegory for valuing love over lust. Scarlett perfectly encapsulates lust as she lives the superficial life of social media and materialist objects and that exaggerated lifestyle finally changes Don Jon for the better.
16 Perfect Since Day One
In a sharp contrast (in comparison to her AOU look), this is another throwback from her first appearance as Black Widow. Sure, most fans could not imagine anyone else as perfect for the role (like this starry-eyed writer) but at the time there was still a lot to be proven.
Was she going to be right for the role?
Was her past as a romantic-comedy actress going to stop her from being able to play Black Widow? Was she going to have good on-screen chemistry with Robert Downey Jr.? Yes, no, and yes. She absolutely mastered it on her first go as Black Widow and has not looked back. Her initial undercover allegiance to S.H.I.E.L.D. and role as a seemingly reserved secretary for Tony Stark was the perfect way to display how she can be so deceptive while remaining a good-standing hero. For now...
15 Let's Get Ready To Rumble!
This is the iconic scene that introduced the world to just how dangerous the Black Widow is. For those unfamiliar with this particular scene, Tony Stark’s buddy and limo-driver Happy Hogan are sparring in a boxing ring for exercise before Stark asks his new “assistant” to join him in the ring. At first, Hogan (played by the director of the film Jon Favreau in a hilarious scene) is doubtful of her ability due to her small stature and gorgeous looks. However, soon after he finds out that she is as strong as she is beautiful. Apart from the scene, this image perfectly conveys how she is reserved in how she will reveal her cards in this game. She knows Tony Stark wants to see her in action but how she does it is just as important as doing it. Also, that is NOT the look you would ever want to see from Black Widow before a fight.
14 Pin-Up This!
As noted before, Scarlett Johansson flourishes with fantastic directors (and the Coen brothers are prime examples of two of the best artistic minds in Hollywood today) but there is something absolutely timeless about this screenshot from her role in Hail Caesar. The film is loosely based on the rumblings of the Golden Age of Hollywood as a problem fixer for a big budget production company (played by Josh Brolin) tries to fix a plethora of issues from within to maintain the success of the films.
Scarlett Johansson is a film-star by the name of DeAnna Mora who is looking to dig up some information by going to a private investigator.
The classic incognito look is as classic as it is fitting as Scarlett gives even the most famous Hollywood bombshells like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield a run for their money.
13 Distressed, But Not Impressed
Once again we dive into her stellar performance in Winter Soldier but this time we have a different way that she is playing the character. She is distressed at the fact that someone like the Winter Soldier would come to attack Steve Rogers and his sheer power as a threat is something she legitimately has not seen before. To be able to get into the shoes of a character like Black Widow and take on the memories of the characters is impressive enough. But to take that memory of the character and properly act upon this given set of memories is going beyond the call of duty. It is a little unconventional to hold an assault rifle armed with a grenade launcher like that, but seeing as she just emptied that shell onto Bucky Barnes, she is probably just getting her bearings.
12 Absolutely Stunning
This picture right here displays the serious face that ScarJo puts on when she takes on the role of Black Widow. Most fans and appreciators of the films do not realize how difficult it is to give a serious look without coming off as ‘trying too hard.’ It is a tough balance to keep on screen and it is even tougher to do it on a consistent basis in a film franchise without coming off as repetitive.
This screen cap from Civil War was the moment that Black Widow displayed her lack of allegiance to any side.
This is the kind of mysterious nature that makes Black Widow the iconic character she is and we would not have it any other way.
11 Could This Be All?
Taken prior to the life-changing accident, this is Scarlett Johansson as the main character in Ghost In The Shell again. Earlier we noted the cold demeanor is seen in a slow transition that takes place over the course of the film but this shot from an earlier scene shows something massively different. Look at the way she holds her left arm up, it looks as if she is too comfortable on that motorcycle
That kind of vehicle is known for its danger, and this kind of framing suggests that the focus is on the entirety of the world her character is in.
Motoko has decided that she is comfortable with being at the helm of safety for the world, but the gravity of the importance of her job has not hit her. . . yet!
10 Ready To Pounce
Just as mentioned before, the looks that Scarlett gives in her portrayal as Black Widow are just perfect. Here she is perched up on the ceiling waiting to pounce on some unsuspecting goons that probably do not know they are about to go to sleep! The way that her body language speaks to the viewer is unquestionably tense. Look at the way she adjusts those fingerless gloves and glances off into the distance. That kind of detail (where she does not need to see her hands adjusting) is another part of the small, but significant set of traits that really place Scarlett Johansson into the upper-echelon of acting greatness. Much like a lot of these other shots, her crouched position is quintessential to the character and she looks ready to attack in spectacular fashion.
9 Creepy Looks From A Gorgeous Face
There is no better example towards the impact that the role of Black Widow had on Scarlett Johansson than her career-changing role as Laura in Under The Skin. For those who are not familiar with the film will find themselves uneasy with how grave her scowl looks. That is because Scarlett takes the role of a shape-shifting alien that drives around Scotland in a van looking for unsuspecting male victims that will blindly follow any gorgeous woman.
It is a truly chilling performance and is miles away from the roles that previously made Scarlett Johansson a household name.
However, she is not out of her element and completely owns up to the role and stands as an example of yet another genre that she can both impress and flourish in.
8 Cool People Don't Look Back At Explosions
Another one from the Age Of Ultron film, this further adds to the notion that Black Widow is well aware and dare I say, comfortable, in the heavy-gravity situations she finds herself in. It would be an understatement to say that Black Widow’s best skills include taking down multiple enemies at once but the sheer carefree attitude of the way she looks away from the explosion in the background is classic Hollywood!
However, as noted in a lot of these entries, it is the nuances that make the real difference.
The look on her face is relaxed, but her stance is prepared for whatever threat is to come next. This is a perfect image of Black Widow to convey her overall experience, mental stability and consistency as a machine of war.
7 Calculating Her Way To Success
This is another shot from Lucy, depicting the character’s amazing ability to be able to process more information than the average human at a super-human rate of speed. Notice the flat lips that indicate the lack of care towards using mental processing to provide a humanized facial expression.
Her eyes stare at the information with a tinge of respect, almost as if to say that she is still aware of the importance and gravity of the situation.
There is a kind of cliché that goes with femme fatale characters that usually marginalizes them as unworthy of their male co-stars in terms of believability but Scarlett Johansson completely owns the role and looks serious. The film might not have been very well received as a whole but the sheer imagery that came from the film is worth it.
6 Breathtakingly Beautiful
Ah yes, the straightened hair chopped off at the neck bone look has returned to this list once again. There was something particularly spot-on about her look in Captain America: Winter Soldier. Of course, she uncharacteristically chews gum throughout the movie (for a very good reason, however) and that adds a sensual sort of aesthetic but it is not just that. She consistently holds her own as just about everyone else gets captured, taken out or just flees for safety. Here we see that consistency in the way she struts her stuff whilst her auburn locks sway graciously in the breeze as a pair of fighter jets prepare to make a strike from above. The single stripe and silver Widow logo on her jumpsuit only add to the no-nonsense streamlined look that she is normally known for, dialing it up to 11.
5 Peeling Back Those Layers Of Mystery
Some of the most important scenes in the MCU have been with Black Widow because of her constant knowledge of any and every bit of information that she can get her hands on. This particular scene is taken out of the first Avengers film and is one of the few hints to her mysterious past as a mercenary. The look on ScarJo’s face says that she legitimately cares for Clint Barton but for the first (and only) time in the MCU she is perfectly matching the physical body language of the person she is talking to. This small detail perfectly underlines the feeling of being an outsider with a resume of shady business behind themselves as both Hawkeye and Black Widow have worked on some missions they would rather forget. No doubt, this kind of emotional and mental processing is crucial to keeping the film genuine to the audience.
4 Forbidden Love
The Man Who Wasn’t There is a crime noir film from 2004 that was made to look like it was shot in the golden age of cinema. The Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan Coen) are notoriously known for being two of the finest storytellers in the history of narratives and they totally took the motif and ran with it all the way. The film is quite convoluted in terms of plot, with the main protagonist Ed Crane (a barber played by Billy Bob Thorton) finding himself in the middle of a get-rich-quick scheme and attempting to qualm the troubles of his turbulent marriage at the same time. This is where Scarlett comes in as Birdy, an under-aged girl who becomes obsessed with the main character. There is a youthful intelligence that is coated by the obvious immaturity that bleeds through every line she delivers in what is truly one of her best roles to date.
3 Two Thespians. Two Methods
This is another picture that features one of her other Avengers but there is something unsettling about the way this image comes across. Despite the fact that Black Widow is listening to the same thing that Thor is, they seem to have a completely different reaction. Chris Hemsworth has been known to play the role with a heavy hand (or hammer) in the manner he brings the Nordic god to life but here is completely outclassed.
He looks almost confused as to how to react as an actor as it is not clear what he is thinking.
His body language is not consistent with his facial expressions but Johansson is still, reserved and listening diligently. It is a testament to how these two thespians played these iconic roles.
2 Iconic Look From The Iconic Woman
In what looks to be the best women’s fragrance ad that was never released, this picture has all the makings of a great Black Widow. She has the figure down, the look in her eyes says she is ready to fight, and her stance says she is ready to win that fight. The way the light bounces off her muscularly toned body is no doubt the product of her hard work and daily grind towards doing her best to bring the comic book character to life.
It takes so much to do a karate stance like this and still be taken seriously when it is known that ScarJo is not a trained fighter by any means.
There is just an air of seriousness to her looks, and this is another great example of it.
1 The Appropriate Portrayal Of A Tragic Character Done To Perfection
What has been one of the most consistent features of all these entries? The leather jumpsuit that she is ironically known for us worn throughout every image in which she is not required to be incognito. Take notice of the way she is standing in street clothes. Her body language is awkward and her facial expression seems to display an uncomfortable feeling. This is because Black Widow has been conditioned to be the ultimate spy since a young age and whenever she is not beating up her enemies spying on someone then she is simply out of her element. She lost out on her precious adolescent years and has never really got the chance to live a truly normal life. At this point, it is too late. The tragic nature of her character is depressing as it is commendable as she consistently finds a way to battle her demons and help the world become a better place. Absolutely beautiful.