Scarlett Johansson has been in countless blockbuster films, is critically acclaimed and considered one of the sexiest women alive. She has a net worth of 55 million, and has her pick of roles in Hollywood. The only problem? Those roles are pretty scant.
Aside from the occasional gem, most roles for attractive young women in movies aren’t great. And why is that? Because Hollywood doesn’t know how to write complex women. While this year has been groundbreaking in terms of movies with dynamic female leads, including hit fantasy adventure Malificent, there is still a lot of change that needs to happen.
Johansson is funny, charismatic and clever in interviews. She has become a fan favorite for her portrayal of Black Widow/Natasha Romanov in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that is saying something. Marvel comics purists and comic book fans of all colors are always critical of casting, but Johansson nailed the role of the Avenger’s single female team member. Having appeared in Iron Man 2, The Avengers, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Johansson is a constant scene stealer. In Iron Man 2, her allegiance is the question, until she reveals herself to be on the side of the good guys, and a total bad ass. In The Avengers, her relationships are explored and she gets to work as part of a team, something that is outside of her comfort zone, as she is used to being the team. And, most recently, in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where she bonds and works closely with the titular hero, Steve Rogers. Johansson really showcases her range in that film, as Romanov has to deal with the supposed loss of a father figure, and the destruction of her life’s work in protecting humanity and working with SHIELD. Fans anticipate her role in the next Avengers movie, expected in 2015, as well as a rumored Black Widow movie suspected to be in the works.
While Scarlett Johansson has done very well for herself as Romanov, she still has appeared in films that do less for her. In recent film Lucy, Johansson plays a party girl turned drug mule who essentially becomes invincible. The film is highly flawed, and the central premise is just false, making the movie rather hard to swallow. Johansson does what she can with what she’s given- which isn’t much. Lucy is a prime example of the roles Johansson is given – flat female characters who serve as vehicles for plot, without having defining characteristics of their own. She plays love interests, girlfriends, the kind of roles that are available to beautiful young women. These roles are mostly set pieces, not characters, even. They aren’t complex women, real people- they’re entirely defined by their relationships to other characters, either men or children, or their employment. So stop bashing Scarlett, she’s doing all she can, and she’s fabulous.