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Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in Iron Man 2

This summer Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff will finally have her standalone MCU film with Black Widow. And when the highly-anticipated blockbuster hits theaters this May, it will be a decade since the actress had her debut as the famed Avenger in Iron Man 2. As the 35-year-old gears up for solo moment, she’s shared one awesome way the character has impacted her life. In her words:

Iron Man 2 was the first time I had to combat train. It was grueling. I found out that I had got the role five weeks before we started shooting. So, I just had to transform in those five weeks. It was a pretty intense time. It’s actually been such a gift for me. Because I was probably maybe 23, 24 at the time. It actually gave me this life of physical acumen I would probably never have had otherwise.

It’s actually crazy to think about how young ScarJo was when she first donned those red locks in Jon Favreau’s Iron Man sequel. She was already a well-known actress for her roles in Match Point, The Island, Lost In Translation or He’s Just Not That Into You, but when she slipped into that leather suit, she soared even higher into the A-list.

As she explains, taking on Black Widow was an intense feat for her but it’s allowed her to really dive into physical fitness since her early ‘20s. In Iron Man 2 she learned basic martial arts, how to throw a punch and hold a weapon and it’s benefitted her for years to come. Johansson doesn’t think she would have dived into that kind of physical challenge if it wasn’t for her casting.

While speaking to Vanity Fair about highlights of her career, Scarlett Johansson gave a shout out to the stunt woman such as Heidi Moneymaker for being a massive part of learning these skills. The Jojo Rabbit actress called herself a “very amature stuntwoman” and admitted that she wouldn’t have been able to pull off her many action sequences in the franchise without her stunt doubles.

On the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Scarlett Johansson even played her role while she was pregnant with her daughter Rose. Her co-star Chris Evans described the scene as “a lot of fake Scarletts around”. The two MCU actors may share the screen again in Greg Berlanti’s The Little Shop of Horrors. Johansson may play the role of Audrey and Evans is being eyed to play her sadistic dentist boyfriend, Orin Scrivello.

Scarlett Johansson was certainly one of the first female heroes to come to the big screen and a ton has changed since she was cast in Iron Man 2. Mark Ruffalo recently recounted a time when Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige almost left the studio for pushing for more representation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Scarlett Johansson returns to her iconic role in Black Widow on May 1.

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