20 June 2021 2625 Views

Has Scarlett Johansson even SEEN Iron Man 2 lately?

by James Murphy

Notice, I phrase it as a QUESTION.

Scar-Jo may well have seen said movie (and read things into it I failed to see?) when recently citing certain perceived failings in IRON MAN 2 and its depiction of women.

That said? I fear a danger of missing motifs in morality messages /sexual politics.

So I had to chip in. Naturally! 🙂 

IRON MAN 2 is a flawed film, indeed. Made in haste, against a deadline, amidst changing studio politics and a need to build extended universes.

The plot is therefore half baked; characters not quite ‘there’ in conception and the dialogue is mostly Downey riffing to an improv beat. He’s great here! But even a genius of that calibre (as mentored by equally adept improv pro. Mel Gibson) cannot sustain an entire movie without waning a bit if the script has gaps.

No accident that we did not get Favreau helming Iron Man 3? And was it just a scheduling clash that saw Downey drop out of Cowboys and Aliens? We may never know.

Iron Man 2 was perhaps a stressful enterprise and that shows, onscreen, in the movie’s limitations? Hence, it is unloved, somewhat, relative to the magical charm of the first film and behemoth boulder of the subsequent Avengers spin off series.

That said? 

  • It is a fine action film! THAT car sequence on the race track. 
  • There ARE some big laughs and still great work from Downey.
  • Stark does behave like a bit of a dick. But that’s because he THINKS he is DYING for most of the movie. So he indulges his most hedonistic and egotistical sides.


  • By the end of the piece, our titular hero is reformed. Turns out he could be saved by the power of his brain, his Dad’s legacy and above all, devotion to one woman.
  • That ultimate  muse is personified by the lovely Pepper Potts (Gwynnnnieeee Paltrow). He makes her his CEO. How sexist and wrong! 😉 


  • So yes, there is some laddish fun to be had. One can enjoy Stark being naughty because we know, ultimately, it to be symptomatic of his vulnerability, rather than cinematic endorsement of his ego unleashed.
  • AT NO STAGE IS SCARLETT JOHANSSON treated disrespectfully.
  • Objectified accidentally, incidentally, perhaps? But arguably, no more or less than in her Woody Allen movie appearances (clue: his work tends to revolve around men trying to seduce..women?).


  • Her character is given an arc; autonomous power over others (she charms and manipulates Tony and wins the day against the baddies).


  • Yes, the guys fancy her. But Happy Hogan (played by director, Jon Favreau) in the car, once he is caught admiring Scar-Jo, ceases doing so.


  • Happy knows he has been sussed out, for a split second and stops looking. It’s not a leering baddie, ffs. And it’s the BLACK WIDOW who saves HIM /kicks the most arse, right? What’s the problem (answer: there isn’t one).



  • And when Tony says ‘want one’ (not ‘want some’?), he is deliberately trying to win attention from Pepper, as in ‘I want a PA like that’ etc. He is warned to stop it and drops the act quite quickly in succeeding scenes.

So, Scarlett: if you had hated it that much? Why take the part? Why participate in the franchise at all, ever after? You have done very well out of it, frankly, in a role that was offered first to Emily Blunt (a more adept action star imho).

Yes, #metoo has changed the game in how Hollywood views, treats and protects women. But that’s just it. The behaviours exposed were always criminal and wrong. We just found a new way to highlight abuse and thereby protect the vulnerable.

The hashtag that propelled the awareness is a positive thing but it is not, in itself, the source of the respectful yet human morality behind it all.

We must never lose sight of the fact that ‘fun’ (as in comic book, adolescent, innocuous stuff) is just that: fun! The harmless fantasy is an essential tool in storytelling. Indeed, it helps empower both boys and girls, as they grow up in an uncertain world. 

Women can and indeed should play a role in the escapist universe, as they always have. They need not be damsels in distress or objects of unwanted attention.

A POWERFUL female character /actor can excel in the boy’s toy box on film. They can use the imagery to their advantage: all via beauty, sex appeal, wit, comedy and charm.

That’s precisely what YOU managed to do, Scar-Jo. And it’s worked pretty well, so far, right?. It’s why you have your very own spin off movie now. Which, incidentally, DOES have LOTS of shots of you in ‘toight’ rubbery costumes in awkward positions.

Because all super-hero films objectify the human body in its anatomical perfection, akin to athletics. 

Incidentally, this new Black Widow film is set amidst a sea of derivative spy movie tropes and some ghastly cultural appropriation imho (faux eastern european accents). No objections, there? Well, I do object. So there! 🙂 

Best of luck to all involved, anyway. 

There you have it. Just an opinion. I love Scar-Jo (especially in Match Point and In Good Company). Reminds me of my best friend at sixth form circa 1997 (still miss our theatre trips a bit btw if you are reading this; so I named a cat after you as an in joke tribute, just like they do in movies when an actor cannot come back for sequels: I digress..) .


Where was I? Oh yes. I love Scarlett. But I love Iron Man, equally. And I abhor double standards or after the event revisionist morality as the new go to zeitgeist on film.

Here endeth the lesson. Feel free to disagree. But be #kind, yeah? Or I will tell Scarlett and she will come kick your.. 😉 x


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