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Cracking ‘the code’ of superhero drama

Walk of Fame Honor: Scarlett Johansson

Disney/Marvel’s $220 million “The Avengers” kicks off Hollywood’s high stakes summer with Scarlett Johansson reprising her “Iron Man 2” role as Natasha Romanoff, ex-Russkie agent, whose superhero-standing as Black Widow teams her with Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Chris Evans’ Captain America, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye as the law-enforcement agency S.H.I.E.L.D. battles the villainous Loki, played Tom Hiddleston.

Johansson calls acting “unbelievably exhilarating.” So how does that kind of high square with running around in body-hugging black spandex, rubber and leather while filming against green screen?

Thesp smiles at the question.

“The key challenge is purely that you’re playing something so unbelievable and yet you want to find the naturalistic approach to it and try to find the human dilemma in these otherwise unbelievable, out of this world characters. That’s the challenge!”

She calls Hemsworth’s work as Thor as being particularly difficult.

“When you put Thor on paper, you think, ‘This is impossible.’ Yet he had such a human quality to him. There are examples like that where you can find the dramatic payoff in the characters.”

Helmer Joss Wheldon says that “human quality” is essential to making superheroes work onscreen.

“Marvel really cracked the code in terms of ‘Oh, they are just like us.’ It’s a dose of that veracity that Marvel really started with Iron Man. You need to use that as your base.”

Whatever happened on the “Avengers,” a good time was had by all both on and off the set. The cast called itself “Group Hug.”

And according to Ruffalo, “I just remember coming into someone’s place with a group of half-naked stunt men in a hot tub and Scarlett Johansson standing over them with her giant ladle, making boy soup.”

Group Hug, indeed.

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