Before the Black Widow returns in Captain America: Civil War, look back at the best Scarlett Johansson movies
It’s a rare actress who can make the transition from child star to a regularly-working performer in Hollywood. Scarlett Johansson not only did it, she went on to become one of the most bankable box office stars in the world. Johansson has been a professional actress for over two decades… and she’s only 31. Scary as it may seem, Johansson may not even be at her peak yet.
Even before Johansson joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she was well known for her roles in acclaimed dramas and comedies, with an occasional film. But now that Johansson has appeared four times as Black Widow, moviegoers have followed her to other movies, including Lucy. There is a very real demand for Marvel Studios to finally make a Black Widow solo film, but before that will (hopefully) happen, Johansson is headlining the live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell.
Next month, Johansson will be reprising her role as Black Widow for the fifth time in Captain America: Civil War, as she sides with Iron Man over Captain America. The early word is that Civil War is going to be superhero showdown to remember and we can’t wait to see what role Black Widow will play in the story.
Ahead of Captain America: Civil War’s release on May 6, ComingSoon.net is looking back at ten of Johansson’s most memorable film roles.
Scarlett Johansson Movies Spotlight: Ghost World (2001)
Ghost World was Johansson’s tenth feature film, and her first comic book movie, but definitely not her last comic book experience. In this film, Johansson played Rebecca, a teenage girl who was the best friend of Thora Birch’s Enid. Ghost World was adapted from Daniel Clowes’ comic of the same name, which chronicled the way that the two girls drifted apart before Enid made a major life choice.
This was kind of a downer of a movie, but it won critical acclaim. While Birch had top billing in this film, it was Johansson who went on to superstardom.
Scarlett Johansson Movies Spotlight: Lost in Translation (2003)
Lost in Translation is still one of Johansson’s most enduring films even 13 years after its release. Johansson played Charlotte, a young married woman who befriended Bill Murray’s Bob during their extended stay in Tokyo. The connection between Charlotte and Bob defied labels without going in a conventional direction. The final exchange between their characters is still the subject of speculation among film lovers.
While Murray was nominated for Best Actor at the 2004 Oscars and the film itself was also nominated for Best Picture, Johansson was snubbed by the Academy.
Scarlett Johansson Movies Spotlight: Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)
Johansson’s next role placed her as the title character in Girl with a Pearl Earring, a period drama about the creation of Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting. Tracy Chevalier wrote the novel that was inspired by Vermeer’s work, with Colin Firth portraying Vermeer and Johansson playing Griet, a servant in his household.
Between Lost and Translation and Girl with a Pearl Earring, Johansson successfully made the transition from teen star to more mature roles in Hollywood.
Scarlett Johansson Movies Spotlight: The Black Dahlia (2006)
The grisly murder of the real life Black Dahlia, Elizabeth Short, gave her a fame in death that she never achieved in her life. In 2006, director Brian De Palma adapted James Ellroy’s novel about the Black Dahlia murder, with Johansson as Kay Lake, a woman caught between two of the case’s police investigators: Bucky (Josh Hartnett) and Lee (Aaron Eckhart). Mia Kirshner played Elizabeth Short.
Despite critical praise for Kirshner’s performance, The Black Dahlia was a box office disappointment.
Scarlett Johansson Movies Spotlight: The Prestige (2006)
Do you remember the time that Batman and Wolverine faced off over Black Widow’s affections? That never happened, but Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige did bring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman together as rival magicians in the 19th century. Johansson played Olivia, the assistant to Jackman’s Robert Angier, who later joined Bale’s Alfred Borden.
Ten years later, The Prestige is still one of Nolan’s best loved films.
Scarlett Johansson Movies Spotlight: The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)
Johansson headlined another period drama two years later in The Other Boleyn Girl. Johansson played Mary Boleyn opposite Natalie Portman’s Anne Boleyn during the reign of King Henry VIII (Eric Bana). In this movie, the rivalry between the two sisters nearly destroyed the Boleyn family.
The Other Boleyn Girl also had an embarrassment of riches with its cast of future movie stars, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Garfield, Eddie Redmayne, and Juno Temple.
Scarlett Johansson Movies Spotlight: The Avengers (2012)
While Johansson originated the role of Black Widow in Jon Favreau‘s Iron Man 2, it was Joss Whedon’s The Avengers movie that finally gave Johansson’s character the spotlight that popularized Black Widow with a new generation of comic book movie fans. Black Widow was one of the few featured female characters in the movie, but she also had several of the film’s signature scenes, including her first appearance in the story as Black Widow proceeded to beat up some Russian criminals while she was tied to their chair.
We’re still waiting for that Black Widow solo movie, Marvel!
Scarlett Johansson Movies Spotlight: Under the Skin (2014)
Under the Skin is one of Johansson’s most divisive films, in large part because the movie refuses to explain itself for anyone who isn’t paying attention. Johansson played an alien wearing a human skin who uses her body to trap men and steal their skins for more of her kind. After Johansson’s alien seemingly feels pity for one of her victims, she goes on the run from the rest of her race.
This film was far from conventional, and it didn’t suddenly become an action film when the alien tried to escape. In the end, she couldn’t outrun what she really was. It was kind of depressing, actually. But the Jonathan Glazer film won high critical praise for Johansson’s performance.
Scarlett Johansson Movies Spotlight: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
While Johansson also co-starred in Iron Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier treated her Black Widow like a true co-lead with Chris Evans’ Captain America as they went up against S.H.I.E.L.D. and the dark secrets that were hidden within. The Winter Soldier was also one of the most successful non-Avengers or Iron Man film in Marvel Studios’ eight year history.
Seriously though, we’re really overdue for a Black Widow solo film.
Scarlett Johansson Movies Spotlight: Lucy (2014)
Lucy is the proof that Johansson can carry an action movie by herself. During the early part of the movie, Johansson’s Lucy gains incredible psychokinetic abilities after being overdosed with a drug… and she only gets more powerful from there. Lucy also becomes more frightening as her humanity slowly disappears.
This film was one of the unexpected box office smash hits from 2014, and it even beat The Rock’s Hercules movie on its opening weekend! Because of that, Lucy could be the movie that finally established Johansson as a true action star.