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The Marvel Cinematic Universe has introduced a bevy of kick-ass heroines over the years. From Brie Larson's Captain Marvel to Danai Gurira's Okoye in Black Panther, these women have shown young fans that the superhero genre isn't just for the boys. And this summer, no Avenger is having a bigger breakthrough moment than Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow.
An MCU staple in 2010's Iron Man 2, Johannson's Romanoff is a spy who had been trained in combat since childhood, due in part to the nefarious "Red Room" training program. Much like Romanoff, who has embodied female empowerment throughout her nine MCU film appearances, Johansson is also a figure of strength both inside and out, according to her longtime trainer, Eric Johnson of Homage, an elite fitness brand.
"She's the best," says Johnson, who has been working with Johansson for the past 12 years. "She's like family."
CREDIT: PHOTO COURTESY OF MARVEL STUDIOS / DISNEY
Johnson, the co-founder of Homage fitness facilities, first crossed paths with Johansson, 36, in New York. The duo continued to work together in Los Angeles, where Johnson relocated for about two years, before taking their training to the other side of the globe in New Zealand, where Johansson filmed the 2017 sci-fi thriller, Ghost in the Shell. To prep for Black Widow, Johnson says Johansson had already built a solid foundation based on her previous roles, which also included 2018's Avengers: Infinity War and 2019's Avengers: Endgame. (Related: How Scarlett Johansson Got In Superhero Shape)
"She already had this great training base, this huge foundational strength base," says Johnson. "We had a big quote-unquote offseason, we had a lot of time to prepare, almost a year, so I could really get her foundational strength and condition really up to where we wanted it to be."
For Black Widow, which began production in May 2019, Johnson says he also kept recovery in mind as part of Johansson's program, as well as other stresses that could come with her job not just as an actress, but as one of the film's executive producers.