While she hasn’t always been the most tactful at discussing them, Scarlett Johansson has given audiences some truly memorable characters over the course of her career so far. Whether she’s appearing in the flesh or voicing animated characters (and even disembodied voices) Johansson is one of modern cinema’s most instantly recognizable talents.
She’s also accumulated her fair share of total badasses over the years, from relatable everyday schmoes in bad situations to super-heroic warriors charging into battle. Many of her characters have become as noteworthy as herself. Here’s our ranking of Scarlett Johansson’s ten most badass characters to date.
What else would you call a guitar-shredding punk rock porcupine other than badass? Ash is one of the final contestant’s for the singing competition at the heart of the movie Sing and, like most of the contestants, she’s unable to see her own worth for most of the movie.
Ash starts out as a backing vocalist and guitarist to her arrogant, unappreciative, boyfriend but the competition allows her to not only break out by herself and discover more of her talents as a performer, she also discovers herself as a songwriter. Her original song ‘Set It All Free’ becoming her final power ballad.
9 Jordan Two-Delta
The product of illegal cloning done in secret for the super rich in the movie The Island, Jordan Two-Delta is the clone of a famous model named Sarah Jordan. Though she doesn’t know that, initially, with the clones being told that they are the survivors of some kind of apocalypse who are waiting in a safe facility to be transported at random to a mysterious untouched island.
After discovering the truth that the clones are being kept as spare parts for their original versions, Jordan escapes with another clone into Michael Bay’s vision of 2019 which has a lot less Trump and a lot more flying motorcycles. She returns to help free her fellow clones in the fittingly explosive finale.
8 Jess Thayer
From the movie Rough Night, Jess is in the midst of running for state senate and facing a relatability problem with voters when she has her bachelorette party with a close group of friends from her college days. The evening of debauchery goes south very quickly when a stripper is accidentally killed at the beginning of the evening, leading to a series of hijinks and misadventures ultimately involving a stash of stolen diamonds.
The role came as a much-needed physical comedy break in Johansson’s increasingly action-centric career and quite a dark one at that. The wacky drug-fueled events of the night increasing Johansson’s relatability as much as they do Jess’.
The unforgettable character is a far cry from Sterling Holloway’s interpretation in Disney’s original 1967 Jungle Book movie. Holloway, the original voice of Winnie the Pooh in Disney’s adaptation, is, while still very sinister, a lot less intimidating than Johansson’s take on the character in Jon Favreau’s live-action remake.
Johansson is quite well-known for her voice acting now but the commanding tone of her hypnotizing speech to Mowgli was so effective that it was used as the centerpiece of the movie’s epic first trailer. Setting the tone for its blockbuster success. She’s not in the movie very much, but she makes one of the biggest splashes nonetheless.
6 DeeAnna Moran
The Coen Brothers’ salute to all things movie Hail, Caesar! finds Josh Brolin’s character, Eddie Mannix, having to put out endless fires for a movie studio as a Hollywood fixer. One of his many problems is the pregnancy of one of the studio’s biggest stars, DeeAnna Moran (played by Johansson), as she’s unmarried and it could create bad PR.
DeeAnna is a riff on the synchronized swimming stars of that era such as Esther Williams and she’s one of Johansson’s funniest characters despite her small amount of screen time. Johansson plays her as a tough, no-nonsense, workaholic who talks more like a stereotypical gangster than a stereotypical movie star. Her angelic looks covering a hustling wiseguy attitude that you can’t help but respect, all things considered.
5 The Female
Simply known as The Female, Scarlett Johansson’s character from Jonathan Glazer’s chilling sci-fi horror movie Under the Skin is a fearless role for Johansson who, already one of the biggest stars in the world, went out onto the streets to film scenes with unwitting members of the public. It’s made all the more impressive by the fact that her character, an alien prowling for unsuspecting prey to seduce and take back to her lair to be essentially mulched, is mostly searching for sexually aggressive men.
This was a performance where character and performer were intentionally inseparable and it’s hard to think of anyone who could have played the role better than Johansson did.
4 Silken Floss
Before the pair would team up for the world-conquering success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Johansson played the chief assistant to Samuel L. Jackson’s memorably flamboyant comic book villain The Octopus in Frank Miller’s big screen adaptation of comic strip The Spirit.
Silken Floss is a loyal accomplice in all of The Octopus’ dastardly schemes and the most badass thing about her might be her aloofness to all of the fantastical things going on around her. She’s not a lovestruck groupie, she participates in the villain’s evil schemes because she simply enjoys it and femme fatale’s with her confidence, style and intelligence are something that movies could always use more of.
3 Major Mira Killian
From the 2017 live-action remake of the classic anime Ghost in the Shell, the Major is Johansson’s most controversial role thus far. Mira is a powerful and tenacious cyborg cop from the near future who becomes embroiled in a terrorist plot with links to her mysterious past. Equipped with full body reflective stealth gear and super strength, the Major can invisibly take down a room of bad guys by herself. Her desire for the truth and the completion of her mission always superseding her concern for own safety.
It’s very difficult to argue with the issues raised by onlookers regarding the significance of Johansson’s casting in relation to general hiring practices in Hollywood, and nobody really wants to anyway, but Johansson is still committed to providing audiences with a female badass to remember even if the movie itself isn’t necessarily worthy of that effort.
Coerced into transporting a suitcase full of experimental drugs to a merciless gangster, the eponymous Lucy is forced into becoming a drug mule. But, when the bag of drugs sown inside her breaks open, she’s subjected to the full effects of a drug which enables the activation of all of her brain power. Granting Lucy superhuman abilities like the control of matter around her.
Steadily progressing on her way to an unknown state of 100% brain power, Lucy flips the tables on her captors and abusers to outsmart them all and take a little well-earned revenge. A surprise monster hit, Lucy confirmed the widely held belief that Johansson has a Midas touch.
1 Black Widow
Were you expecting it to be anybody else? The former Russian assassin turned Avenger has stolen scenes and entire movies for many audience members and for longer than the vast majority of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s cast has been working there. Whether armed with an array of electrocuting weaponry or just her irresistible charm, Natasha Romanov (A.K.A. Black Widow) is always a force to be reckoned with.
The franchise may not have always done right by her character but, with an unfading demand for a solo movie adventure, it’s generally felt that the best is still yet to come for her. We’re ready when you are, Marvel.