While Iron Man 2’s chief purpose was to give Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark another chance to shine on center stage, the sequel also laid groundwork for other corners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Arguably the biggest example of that was introducing Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, who would later become one of Tony’s Avengers teammates. Johansson (who was the second choice for the role) also got to share some screen time with Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, and 13 years after the Marvel movie’s release, the actresses are shooting down rumors that they feuded on set.
Scarlett Johansson stopped by Gwyneth Paltrow’s The goop Podcast (opens in new tab) to talk about her career, and eventually the conversation turned to their time together on Iron Man 2. When Paltrow brought up how people have asked her if she and Johansson had truly fought while working on the movie, the latter had this to say:
Iron Man 2 followed just two years after the original Iron Man, which was Marvel Studios’ first movie, with The Incredible Hulk following a month later. While Terrence Howard didn’t return as Rhodey, with Don Cheadle taking over the role, Downey, Paltrow and director Jon Favreau, who also played Happy Hogan, had become tight with one another. But as Johansson laid out, there was absolutely no fighting between her and the Pepper Potts actress, who was quite gracious. In fact, Paltrow quickly noted how it was nice to have another actress to interact with, as she was the only leading lady on Iron Man. In her words:
Initially introduced as Natalie Rushman, a Stark Industries employee who briefly became Tony Stark’s assistant, it was eventually revealed that Johansson’s character was really an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent reporting directly to Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, who cameoed in Iron Man’s post-credits scene. Once that cat was out of the bag, that paved the way for Black Widow’s big, yet challenging action scene, with Johansson sharing in 2020 that this marked the first time she went through combat training. Although the actress agrees that her character was “so sexualized” in Iron Man 2, overall she had a good experience working on this particular MCU entry, and that included getting along splendidly with Paltrow.
Scarlett Johansson starred in nine Marvel movies total (including her uncredited Captain Marvel cameo), with Natasha Romanoff dying in Avengers: Endgame, though audiences got to see her one last time in her own standalone movie set between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. Paltrow has appeared in seven of the franchise’s movies, with Pepper Potts last being seen in Endgame during Tony Stark’s funeral. You can go through nearly all the Marvel movies in order using your Disney+ subscription.