Avengers: Endgame is bittersweet, says ScarJo
Black Widow has 'many possibilities' with standalone movie to start filming in June
When last year's Marvel blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War ended, the superheroes had suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of Thanos.
They lost comrades as half of the world's population was destroyed.
For Scarlett Johansson, who plays Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in the film series, the on-set vibe was just as dramatic.
The 34-year-old US actress said in our interview at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel: "The devastation that was felt in the theatre was just as palpable on set, which is why I think it felt the way it did.
"When you watch it on-screen, you can feel the weight and importance of it, not just the storyline, but also the importance of this chapter in all of our lives kind of culminating in a way like the film."
But fans know that if a superhero movie ends sadly on a cliffhanger there must be another one right behind it to bring about a happy ending.
And so Avengers: Endgame, opening here today, will see Iron Man, Captain America, Ant-Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Bruce Banner, War Machine and Black Widow corral their forces to save humanity before they ride off into the sunset for the last time.
Yes, this will be the last Avengers movie with this cast, which probably adds to the anticipation.
Johansson's character - an undercover spy for S.H.I.E.L.D. posing as Tony Stark's new assistant - first appeared in Iron Man 2 nine years ago.
She said: "I didn't know if the fans and the audience would accept my interpretation of the character. It was just an introduction to the character as an idea. It wasn't until the first Avengers (2012) that I got to really work on this characterisation and develop the depth of her backstory in what we wanted to be her truth."
Black Widow is cynical and sarcastic due to her traumatic past, and it takes a few movies for her to trust her comrades.
Johansson takes us through the arc of Black Widow's development over almost a decade.
"She started in Iron Man 2 as a sort of glorified secretary with this secret skill set, and her true identity was revealed only towards the end of the movie.
"In Avengers, I really got to be one of the boys for better or worse, and I think that was fitting then.
"And as time has gone on and audiences have really asked to see the diversity that represents... the zeitgeist, and pushed for a stronger female presence, my character has also been able to show more facets of herself and come into her own as a woman.
"And I think there's obviously a whole future ahead, so many possibilities to explore as the character continues to understand herself."
The future she is referring to is the standalone Black Widow movie, which starts filming in June with Australian director Cate Shortland at the helm and co-starring David Harbour, Rachel Weisz and Florence Pugh.
There is speculation that the story will focus on her time before joining the Avengers.
But there will be no more Avengers movies.
Johansson said: "We have had the incredible luxury and privilege of coming back to these films every two years, battered and bruised from other jobs and life in general, and then having this kind of pillar of strength just knowing that we have got this job and this family to come back to.
"And that part is over. I think knowing that is bittersweet, but we all feel that whatever we have captured in this has come to an end. I think we are still all processing that."
She still gamely does the stunts but "it just takes longer to recover".
"And now I am scared of hurting myself because I know I am not coming back," she joked.
"But yeah, I am pretty proficient at most stunt work. I definitely had a lot of training over the past decade. I am better at learning choreography than mastering a martial art because I get very frustrated and I don't have the discipline of years and years of training."
And if she were to meet Black Widow in real life, what would she want to say to her?
"I think I would probably say, 'Gosh, how do you sleep at night? You must be really haunted by your past. We should talk about that more.'"
The writer is the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a non-profit organisation of entertainment journalists that also organises the annual Golden Globe Awards.
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