Sexist Avengers Interview: Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans Call Black Widow “A Slut”

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Oh no! A handsome person said something bad and now the internet doesn’t know what to do with itself.

If you feel like the press tour for Avengers: Age of Ultron has been going on since roughly before the dawn of time, then you’re not alone. It looks like the actors are getting a little fatigued too and it’s starting to show in interviews. In a recent chat with DigitalSpy about the film, actors Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans landed in a bit of hot water after Renner made an off-color joke about co-star Scarlett Johannsson’s character the Black Widow and Evans laughed at it like a big goon, leaving fans disappointed.

The question drew on specualtion from fans over the romantic future of Johansson’s character, Natasha Romanov. In the comics Natasha has been romantically paired with both Captain America and Hawkeye, played in the films by Evans and Renner. DigitalSpy’s interviewer asked how the actors felt about these relationships, which have been teased in the films, being scuttled in favor of pairing Romanov with Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner. In response, Renner deadpans “she’s a slut,” eliciting a big laugh from Evans.

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The comments come at a bad time for the Avengers franchise, which is already under fire for minimizing the role of Black Widow in marketing and merchandising campaigns. As the only costumed heroine to have appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date, many fans have been critical of the way the films have handled the character. Despite being a core member of the Avengers, Black Widow has appeared only in a supporting or side-kick role in both the Iron Man and Captain America films and is the only member of the existing team, aside from Renner’s Hawkeye, without a solo film of her own.

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As for the actors themselves, Renner is no stranger to saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Just last year the actor was slammed for leering and sexist comments about Jennifer Lopez during a presentation at the Golden Globes. Evans is another matter. The actor’s chiseled features and nice guy image have made him a Tumblr idol. His reaction to Renner’s joke has left the internet reeling as fans grapple with the idea that nice and handsome people can sometimes do bad things even if they are the subject of a thousand adoring GIF sets.

There’s nothing particularly hilarious about calling the film’s only significantly empowered female character a slut, but the reaction feels forced. This pair of actors has, by this point, completed hundreds of interviews side by side in which they are asked the same or similar questions. Laughing at each other’s jokes is likely a reflex by now. If anything this video shows us the dangers of getting lazy on camera. In the age of viral video one ill advised comment can derail an entire news cycle.  Casual sexism is a pervasive problem in media and entertainment, but honestly, so is allowing Jeremy Renner to be on camera unsupervised.

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