As the sole female Avenger, Scarlett Johansson had a bone to pick with Hollywood: not only were there few female superheroes, but they tended to be dumbed down.
So when Marvel Studios brought in another formidable woman for summer action film “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” was happy to see “a step in the right direction.”
The movie will be out in U.S. theatres on May 1.
The Walt Disney Co film reunites Black Widow with 2012’s “The Avengers” superhero ensemble of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk and Hawk-Eye as they fight a villain bent on large-scale destruction.
Now comes Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen, one of the most powerful Marvel comic’s characters, known for her thought-altering magical powers.
Boosting the female quotient makes sense as women fans could help push “Age of Ultron” past its predecessor at the box office and possibly make it the top-grossing film of summer 2015.
The film throws a larger spotlight on its female characters, led by Johansson’s Black Widow holding her own in complex fight scenes and finding romance with Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
The evolution of female characters in Marvel’s superhero movies “has been slow,” Johansson said, since she took the helm as Black Widow in 2010’s “Iron Man 2.”
“We haven’t really been able to explore the depth of the character behind the superhero – that’s what makes characters interesting,” she said.
“It’s nice to see the introduction to Scarlet Witch, and I know that there will be more to come.”
Ever since Marvel’s cinematic franchises became box office hits, starting with 2008’s “Iron Man” starring Robert Downey Jr., superhero films have drawn criticism for not having enough women amid star-studded casts.
“It’s amazing to have two female characters on a poster for a superhero movie,” Olsen said.
“Also we’re both portrayed as such badasses.”
For box office expert Paul Dergarabedian, ramping up the female perspective is “vitally important” as female filmgoers make up a bigger share of ticket sales.
“Action movies are not just for men anymore,” said Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at box office tracking firm Rentrak.