Scarlett Johansson as Marvel Comics’ tough-as-nails, world-weary Avenger and former Russian spy The Black Widow in the Iron Man 2 movie? I don’t think so ! ! !
The guys at Marvel Studios haven’t made many mistakes in their history as movie makers. A misstep here … an Elektra there, but overall you have to admit that they have done a pretty good job.
Now the internet is teeming with recent news coming out of Marvel Studios. One story talks about how Marvel has adjusted their original release schedule for their upcoming slate of movies. Good move. One huge round of fanatic APPLAUSE. We’ll get to that important news after we dispatch with the more entertaining and more trivial news of the recent casting announcements for Iron Man 2.
If you want to know where I’m at personally on Marvel’s efforts so far, I’ll try to give you a general idea. Spider-Man 3 was a mistake at the concept stage that they couldn’t save in the execution. X-Men 3 was a valiant attempt that couldn’t measure up to the others. Daredevil was better than most people gave it credit for. Elektra jumped off the track early and never regained its footing. I didn’t even bother to see the new Punisher movie.
The first piece of news is that Mickey Rourke is playing a Russian and/or Whiplash. Marc Scarlotti, the current male Blacklash / Whiplash clearly isn’t Russian, but there isn’t any good reason that he couldn’t be. This sounds okay to me. I’m not willing to second guess Jon Favreau on Rourke as the director built up a lot of good-will with his efforts on the first Iron Man movie.
The second piece of casting news, regarding Scarlett Johansson is shocking in its level of disregard for the source material. Unless you are assigning movie roles with your fly down, it is easy to see why Ms. Johansson couldn’t be more wrong for this part.
But who knows, maybe this is the new approach at Marvel regarding its characters. Given this new approach, let’s see who else would be similarly great casting for other Marvel characters.
Dustin Hoffman as Captain America (box office gold)
Kevin James as The Mighty Thor (box office gold)
Wanda Sykes as the new female Black Panther
Gilbert Gottfried as Black Bolt (deadly voice power)
Camryn Manheim as Janet van Dyne (the Wasp)
Chris Rock as Luke (Power Man) Cage
Dakota Fanning as Carol (Ms. Marvel) Danvers
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Dr. Strange
Natalie Portman as Misty Knight (Daughters of the Dragon)
Bobcat Goldthwait as Namor, the Sub-mariner
Well you get the idea. Now I challenge all you Fanatics out there to come up with your own casting suggestions based on the new “Scarlett Johansson” criteria.
In a previous posting I already detailed how much this Johansson idea stinks. I’m not going to blame Marvel and Favreau for not landing Emily Blunt (who was perfect casting), it wasn’t their fault.
I’m also not assuming that all the Fanatics out there agree with me. Longtime reader and generally-good-guy Paul O’Connor openly disagrees with me about this subject. Or as he said in his posted comment where he supported the Johansson selection, “I still win. This is me, winning. Watch me do my Win Dance: win win win win win Winny McWin.” Unseemly behavior for a corporate executive, but hey, he’s entitled to his opinion … no matter how wrongheaded.
On a more serious note, I believe that Scarlet Johansson got this job because of name recognition and because someone in charge thought that name recognition was more important than getting the casting right. Maybe they were under some kind of time deadline. We already know that Johansson did a screen test for the part and lost out to Blunt.
We also know that the rumor mill is THICK with talk that Johansson was willing to do the part for a bargain basement price (something that Mickey Rourke apparently was not). So maybe Marvel fell into a “buy-it-now-while-it’s-on-sale” mentality instead of waiting for someone else and paying more. After all, aren’t all young actresses interchangeable when you put them in a superhero costume?
Will Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of The Black Widow kill Iron Man 2? Of course not. Will it devalue The Black Widow character, especially in the eyes of non-comics readers? Absolutely. Look, if the geniuses in Hollywood think this is a good idea, they might as well make that skinny-kid from That 70’s Show into Venom or God-forbid, they might as well cast the blonde from Clueless as Barbara Gordon in a Batman movie.
Hey … wait a minute … ** sigh **
That’s my version of the story.
— Dave Olbrich (DWO) Sat. Mar. 14, 2009
P.S. I’m so exhausted from this post that I’ll talk about the great new schedule for Marvel movies next time.