How do you become a fan favorite as an actor? Easy. Just love the character as much as the fans do. For as much as we enjoy pitting the various comic book franchises against each other, the secret weapon of the films released by Marvel Studios has always been that we honestly and truly believe that the people involved are having as much fun making the movies as we are watching them. And near the top of that list has to be Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow.

In a recent interview with Michigan Avenue, Johansson was asked which of her many film roles was her favorite to date. Given the breadth of work she’s done in her career, none of us would have batted an eye if she had chosen one of her highly regarded independent films such as Lost in Translation, Ghost World or Under the Skin. Instead, she went right to the superhero.

I really like playing Natasha; playing the Black Widow. It’s been an interesting journey, to take a character and grow it over these years, and peel the layers back and be able to, as you do in life, grow with this person. It’s a character that’s really enigmatic and has an amazing origins story, so there’s a lot for me to play off of.

If you want to be cynical, you could make an argument that Johansson was giving the answer she knew would go over well with audiences. I won’t argue that point. But there is something intriguing about hearing Johansson describe her approach to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as similar to that of a longform television show or miniseries. Black Widow has appeared in multiple Captain America and Avengers movies, always in a supporting or secondary role, and Johansson has still managed to build out her character’s depth and relationships without ever feeling like an afterthought. That is a rare thing for an actor to be able to do without locking themselves into a long-term commitment to a television show.

Johansson’s incredible performance as Black Widow is a big part of the reason fans are so desperate to see her get a standalone movie; as long as she loves the character as much as we do, there’s a chance she might stick around to star in it, too.

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