Scarlett Johansson has criticised the "hypersexualisation" of her character Black Widow in Iron Man 2, saying she is portrayed like "a possession or a thing".

The American actress has played the Marvel superhero Black Widow since 2010, when she made her debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in director Jon Favreau's blockbuster Iron Man 2. The film starred Robert Downey Jr in the titular role of Iron Man/Tony Stark.

Speaking to Collider in the run-up to the release of the standalone Black Widow film, Johansson spoke out against the sexualisation of her character in the past.

She said: "I mean, you look back at Iron Man 2 and while it was really fun and had a lot of great moments in it, the character is so sexualized, you know?

"Really talked about like she's a piece of something, like a possession or a thing or whatever - like a piece of ass, really. And Tony even refers to her as something like that at one point. 'I want some.'"

She continued: "Yeah and at one point calls her a piece of meat and maybe at that time that actually felt like a compliment. You know what I mean? Because my thinking was different. Maybe I even would have, you know, my own self-worth was probably measured against that type of comment or, like a lot of young women, you come into your own and you understand your own self-worth.

"It's changing now. Now people, young girls, are getting a much more positive message, but it's been incredible to be a part of that shift and be able to come out the other side and be a part of that old story, but also progress. Evolve. I think it’s pretty cool."

The Hollywood star praised the "move away from the kind of hypersexualization of this character" in the new Black Widow film from director Cate Shortland.

She said: "I'll be 35 years old and I’m a mom and my life is different. Obviously, 10 years have passed and things have happened and I have a much different, more evolved understanding of myself. As a woman, I’m in a different place in my life, you know? I’m more accepting of myself, I think."

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