Already smashing box office records around the world and set to conquer North America this weekend is Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. The film is loaded with fantastic action, great character moments, and witty one-liners, and it’s sure to please fans and keep Marvel’s amazing track record intact.
At the recent Los Angeles press day for the film, I landed an exclusive interview with Scarlett Johansson. She talked about the positive reception for the film, how much Kevin Feige has told her about Black Widow’s future, working with Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Joe and Anthony Russo again on Captain America: Civil War and what she thinks of them directing Avengers: Infinity War, her reaction to reading the Civil War script, her Marvel contract, her thoughts on a solo Black Widow movie, Ghost in the Shell, and more.
SCARLETT JOHANSSON: Umm… [Laughs]. You know, I haven’t seen it yet, so it’s very nice to hear that; instead of coming to a press junket and seeing and seeing the solemn face of every journalist that comes in and is trying to think of questions to ask your or good things to say. It’s very exciting to be a part of a film that people are rooting for to begin with. I imagine for Joss [Whedon] that must be some kind of a pressure, a huge one probably, [Laughs] although he seems very relaxed in comparison making this film, and maybe that’s because you do have kind of people rooting for you and that’s not always the case. It’s like people want us to succeed, so it’s nice to be able to talk about something people either are excited to see or really pleased with.
Obviously your character is an integral part of the Marvel universe and for the foreseeable future. How much has Kevin Feige told you, ‘This is where we’re going with the character’ and how much is it you figuring it out movie by movie?
JOHANSSON: I think in the grand scheme of things The Widow has a greater purpose, and I think all of the characters do one way or another. There’s definitely –especially with the Civil War coming up I think it’s pretty clear where the pieces will fall. I think all that we’ve built up to this point, in regards to our characters’ own individual kind of moral compass and thought process, and background, and training, and experience, will have us kind of siding one way or another. That part of it is –I know where I’m going, I’m not always sure how I’m gonna get there, and that is developed over each film.
You’re getting ready to film Civil War, which so many of us are so excited for, also because Spider-Man’s being brought into the picture and you’re working with Joe and Anthony Russo again. How excited are you to jump back in to something that so many fans are looking forward to?
JOHANSSON: I’m excited to work with the Russos again, they have a very different approach to this universe than Joss, just different. It will be interesting to see how they treat all of these new characters. When we were doing Cap 2 the film felt very much like we were doing a kind of ‘70s style car-chase political thriller; it had that kind of flavor, but they were also dealing with far less characters, the stakes were just different. Now with Civil War it’s gonna be interesting to see how they set up this next phase. I think Cap 3 is definitely sort of like a pre-Avengers 3 and 4, it feels like that, whereas Cap 2 didn’t feel like necessarily it was part of The Avengers. I mean, it does and it feels like a piece that fits in, but it didn’t feel like it was leading you into Avengers 2.
Have you read the script for Civil War? What was your reaction when you did?
JOHANSSON: I have read the script for Civil War. You know, the film has a very different feeling than kind of anything that I’ve read or been a part of Marvel’s before. These films are –I don’t think darker is the right word because there’s definitely always going to be some kind of levity and that comes in like a form of humor, or hope. When you compare these films to like Batman, it’s a different feeling obviously, it’s a different audience experience, but these films as the stakes loom like larger and larger I think these films are kind of maturing with the audience; so there’s even kind of more –I think– complex psychological twists that I sort of hadn’t necessarily anticipated.
Your relationship with Cap is so strong from Winter Soldier, does that automatically mean Black Widow sides with Cap in Civil War?
JOHANSSON: [Laugh]. I can’t say anything about that. [Laughs].
[Laughs] I had to try though.
JOHANSSON: I think that…It’s…I can’t say anything [Laughs].
There’s been a lot of talk that with Avengers: Infinity War Part I and II some of the cast might only be in Part II because of contracts. Are you in both parts of that, do you know?
JOHANSSON: I don’t know, I believe so. I have no idea exactly what shape those scripts are gonna take, so it’s too early to say.
I wanted to specifically ask a lot of the cast yesterday about contracts, because a lot of people are coming near the end of their contracts, and I don’t know what you signed on for, I don’t know if it’s public knowledge. But are you nearing the end of your contract?
JOHANSSON: My contract has changed; myself and Marvel didn’t really know how the fans were gonna react to Black Widow the first time and how she was gonna be—they couldn’t anticipate how they would want to user her or if they would want to use her. I mean we invest in that character, but the audience had a great reaction to the character, which has been so awesome. For instance, I wasn’t contracted into doing Cap movies, but that storyline worked out so well I kind of branched off and I found myself in that standalone movie. My contract is kind of mutating, I guess [Laughs] or morphed to fit the demand of the character.
So basically you still have multiple pictures left or it’s been a good relationship back and forth?
JOHANSSON: It’s been a very good relationship back and forth and I think Marvel—the one thing about working with them is they don’t want anybody to work in the movie that doesn’t want to be there, obviously. So whatever you’re contracted to should not feel like golden handcuffs, and they don’t want that either.
I’m glad you’ll be around.
JOHANSSON: Yeah, I will certainly be around and that’s because it’s been such a great response. I mean, I’m always happy to put the cat suit back on, for sure.
A lot of people want to see a solo Black Widow movie and were a little bit disappointed that on the epic schedule that Marvel released, there was no solo movie. How do you feel, do you want to have a solo movie on your own, or do you feel that maybe the character is best when it’s part of this group ensemble?
JOHANSSON: I think that there’s room for a standalone movie. The character has a really rich origin story and I’ve been really fortunate to kind of place all these layers on top of one another and kind of build up this character to this point where I think I can now start to peel them away and reveal different sides of her and really focus on—I think I’ve been able to grow with the character, the character’s been able to grow with me. Her dilemma that she faces it’s a deeply personal one, she has this great, huge, epic kind of calling and now is suddenly going, ‘Wait a minute. I have this epic calling, but I wanna make a choice for myself. I feel like I’ve put in the hours, I should be able to make active choices’ and she inevitably chooses the heroic path and kind of puts her own personal desires and needs aside. Those are things that kind of butt up against each other and interesting things happen when you have a character that’s pulled in many different directions and I think there’s –In my mind there’s room for plenty of more Black Widow and certainly more –I think I could see her in a standalone film.
If you don’t mind, have you actually asked Kevin, ‘Hey, Kevin…’?
JOHANSSON: I’ve spoken to Kevin about it. I mean, of course, of course we’ve had that conversation before, and I think Kevin would also like to see a standalone film. I think I can speak for him and say that. That’s all, really. Right now I think this character is used well in this part of the universe, but I think that Kevin, I mean, we’ve talked about it and we both share similar vision for what could be a standalone series.
If you don’t mind I just wanted to know about Ghost in the Shell. Is that happening?
JOHANSSON: It is happening.
Can you say anything about it?
JOHANSSON: It’s happening. It will be shooting the beginning of next year, so I think we start production January of February and it’s me and Rupert [Sanders]; and that’s all I know.
I’m very excited for that one.
JOHANSSON: Me too!