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Why Scarlett Johansson Was Never The Same After Playing Black Widow In The MCU

In the early 2010s, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was in its infancy. "Iron Man" was an unexpected hit when it was released to theaters in 2008, and "The Incredible Hulk" kept the momentum going to some extent. Next on the docket was "Iron Man 2," a sequel that promised to not only further the story of the eccentric billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) but formally add more heroes to the franchise's growing roster. Aside from James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) finally donning a suit of armor to become War Machine, Natasha Romanoff — aka Black Widow — made her live-action debut courtesy of Scarlett Johansson.

From that point on, Nat was a regular in the MCU as it went from a cinematic experiment to a big-screen phenomenon. Despite this, her growing importance to the saga was marred by her blatant lack of a movie to call her own, as original Avengers teammates like Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth), as well as later additions to the lineup such as Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland), took precedent. Thankfully, this is about to change, as the long-awaited "Black Widow" solo film from director Cate Shortland is set to hit theaters and Disney+ Premier Access on July 9, 2021.

There's no denying that the road to this debut has been long and full of twists and turns, leaving Johansson forever changed by the journey the Agent Romanoff character took her on.

Black Widow taught Scarlett Johansson to take more chances in life

After co-starring in "Iron Man 2," Black Widow started popping up all over the MCU in the years to follow. She played a pivotal role in 2012's "The Avengers" and its sequels, "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Avengers: Infinity War," and "Avengers: Endgame," in addition to "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Captain America: Civil War." These projects allowed Scarlett Johansson to become more and more in tune with the Marvel Comics mainstay with each passing performance, inadvertently affecting her true self in a major way.

Looper recently attended a press event for "Black Widow," where Johansson was asked if playing the titular heroine for so long changed her and the way she approaches life in the real world. "I certainly am less afraid of things now than I was 10 years ago," she revealed, joking that when it comes to physical fears, however, she's more terrified than she was back then. Johansson continued, "I'm definitely more comfortable taking risks, and I'm more comfortable with jumping into the unknown with stuff...and seeing how stuff plays out."

Nat's story ended in "Endgame" — sacrificing herself as part of the Avengers' bid to reverse Thanos' (Josh Brolin) universe-splitting snap — but the prequel "Black Widow" appears to be her proper swan song. If that is the case, then even though her time playing the beloved character is up, Scarlett Johansson will surely always carry the on-screen persona with her in spirit and never forget the profound impact it had on her life.