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Gwyneth Paltrow and Scarlett Johansson Talk About 'Iron Man 2'

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Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in Iron Man 2

Scarlett Johansson in 'Iron Man 2.'

© Paramount Pictures
April 30, 2010 - Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love) returns as Tony Stark's assistant, Pepper Potts, in the second Iron Man movie, Iron Man 2. And while the first film was all about the men, this time around women have a strong presence in the comic book-inspired sequel. Scarlett Johansson joins the fun, donning a sexy - and extremely tight - cat suit to play Natasha Romanoff (also known as Black Widow). Paltrow's obviously familiar with life on the set of a big-budget superhero film, but this was Johansson's first go at the genre. However, it's likely this won't be the last time we see Johansson in a Marvel Comics' film. Director Jon Favreau and Marvel Studios Co-President/Iron Man 2 producer Kevin Feige said a spin-off with Johansson's character is possible.

"I would love to see it. Hell yes," said Favreau. Feige added, "Definitely possible. Yes, absolutely."

Paltrow and Johansson joined their male co-stars - along with director Favreau, producer Feige and writer Justin Theroux - for an Iron Man 2 press conference in Los Angeles to chat up the film. Here's just the Paltrow and Johansson portion of the press event:

Gwyneth Paltrow and Scarlett Johansson Iron Man 2 Q&A

In the film, Tony is surprised to discover you two can work together quite well. So who do you think would work better to save the world, Tony and Rhodey, or you two?

Gwyneth Paltrow: "Well, if Scarlett and I were doing it, the body count would be different, less bloody."

Scarlett Johansson: "More organized. We’d just stack them [the robots we fight]. I don’t know. I think that with the brains and the muscle and the beauty and the blonde, I feel like we have maybe a greater chance, but you guys can fight for yourselves."

Gwyneth Paltrow: "We are unstoppable."

Scarlett Johansson: "We are, it’s true. Unstoppable. I don’t know. I feel like if I could wield the guns and like the karate-chop movements, and you could like..."

Gwyneth Paltrow: "Out-think people."

Scarlett Johansson: "Be the brains behind the operation. That’s your one superpower. 'I will outthink you!'"

Can you talk more about your roles as strong intelligent women, not just sex symbols?

Scarlett Johansson: "Well, I’ve never really seen this kind of film of this genre where the female characters, that their sex appeal sort of came second. Of course they’re sexy characters. When you have a sexy secretary or a girl swinging around by her ankles in a cat suit, that’s innately sexy. But the fact is these characters are intelligent, they’re ambitious, they’re motivated and calculated to some degree. To be just a pawn in a story of a whole bunch of men kind of fighting it out and rolling around and getting down and dirty, and there you are to be the vision in a tight cat suit is a boring thing to me. I think Jon [Favreau] made that really clear in the beginning that he felt, as far as Black Widow was concerned or that Natalie was concerned, she was mysterious and nuanced and something to peel back the layers to, and that there was something there. He wanted that. I think that’s why this film is so much more dynamic for me as an audience member."

"I’ve never been a huge fan of this genre, really, and I think because it was always sort of one note and very kind of explosive. I think because Gwyneth and I are able to sort of be the brains behind the operation in some aspect, there’s kind of a happy medium there. It kind of adds to the charm, to the charisma of the finished product."

Gwyneth Paltrow: "I agree with Scarlett. I think it’s a very smart decision, actually, to have women who are capable and intelligent because it appeals to women, so it’s not only a film for 15 year old boys. It’s a film that can relate to a lot of people on a lot of levels. A lot of my girlfriends like it because of the romance or like Scarlett in the trailers is appealing, like 'Oh, who is she?' It doesn’t look gratuitous. It looks like there are interesting women in the movie, certainly from the first one too, that my character is quick and she’s articulate. I think it makes it so that when you take your kid, if you’re a mom, it’s really fun for you to watch as well. So it’s nice to see women who are kind of aspirational and smart, sexy all at the same time."

Scarlett Johansson: "It’s awfully kind of old-fashioned, actually, in the best sense of the word. There’s sort of that these characters are like those fabulous femme fatales of the golden age of Hollywood, that Bette Davis more than the Jayne Mansfield, which I think is so much more dynamic to watch."

Gwyneth, did you have an interior monologue about Pepper beyond what we see?

[Before she answers, a banner hanging behind the table falls and some of the guys move to hang it back up. They can't, and wind up holding it up behind her as answers.]

Gwyneth Paltrow: "The inner monologue of Pepper...Pepper’s trying to hold it all together. You see, without Pepper, this is what you get. Male bullsh-t, falling around, they can’t even hang a poster. I think Pepper tries to hold it all together. She tries not to be reactive and she tries to steer him in the right direction, like the great woman behind the man. So I think that’s what was going through my mind."

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Iron Man 2 hits theaters on May 7, 2010 and is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some language.

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