Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Scarlett Johansson, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show

Hey, have you heard about these Marvel movies? Some sort of power-people, lots of punching? Weird. Well, there’s a new one on the middle-horizon as the Black Widow movie comes out on May 1, which is only fitting since Black Widow (a.k.a. Natasha Romanoff) is a former Russian spy/assassin who turned her back on all that to become an Avenger before dying heroically saving stupid Hawkeye in Avengers: Endgame, and May 1 is the Russian holiday May Day, and okay, yes, everybody knows everything about the Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point because it’s essentially all anyone talks about any more.

Anyway, Black Widow herself, Scarlett Johansson was on The Late Show on Thursday, ostensibly to talk about her role alongside Adam Driver in Noah Baumbach’s emotionally wrenching Marriage Story. Colbert himself told the actress that he and his wife of 25 years watched the movie together in bed, and were so affected/freaked out by the widely acclaimed film’s depiction of a married couple whose great love for each other can’t prevent them from splitting up in the most painful way possible, that they occasionally had to stop the movie and check in with each other. So that’s a rave?


But with noted Marvel geek Colbert (just one of the various manners of geek to which Colbert lays claim) opposite her, Johansson had to know she’d be answering plenty of Black Widow questions. Or, rather, not answering anything at all, since, as she put it concerning the infamously ubiquitous cult that is Marvel/Disney legal, there was no doubt “someone with a dart gun out there” just waiting to put an abrupt halt to any forbidden knowledge, mid-spoiler. To be fair, Colbert’s main guess about the film (this is Natasha’s eighth MCU appearance, spiders have eight legs, this means something) wasn’t anything to get blow-darted over, but Johansson gave a pretty convincing portrayal of an actress in a panic because, ten years ago, she signed an iron-clad contract with a massive entertainment conglomerate that allows them to basically dog her every step in order to protect its many nefarious secrets. “I can’t say anything!,” Johansson complained, scanning Colbert’s audience for snipers, continuing, “Now you’re getting me all wound up, I’m afraid something’s gonna slip, and [gesticulating wildly] my palms are sweaty.” Colbert, grinning his supervillain grin, let his quarry off the hook at that point, since making superheroes squirm is his M.O.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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