Scarlett Johansson was a star long before she joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Natasha Romanoff in Iron Man 2, but being arguably the most prominent and popular female character in the world’s biggest franchise for a decade certainly helps open plenty of additional doors in the industry, even for someone with a reputation as one of the finest talents of her generation.
However, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that the actress’ action-orientated roles outside of the MCU haven’t been great. Luc Besson’s Lucy would be the exception, with Johansson delivering a tour de force lead performance in the bonkers sci-fi actioner that saw her fully embrace the absurdity of the concept, resulting in solid reviews and a box office haul of $463 million against a budget under $40 million.
On the other side of the coin, Michael Bay’s sci-fi blockbuster The Island drastically underperformed, comic book adaptation The Spirit was a critical and commercial disaster, while manga epic Ghost in the Shell was dismissed by reviewers and ignored by audiences, all while facing constant criticism and accusations of whitewashing, both in the casting of Scarlett Johansson and the series of wild plot developments that unfold across the movie’s 107 minutes.
A 43% score on Rotten Tomatoes and a theatrical haul of less than $170 million aren’t great numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but Ghost in the Shell has become the latest forgotten big budget spectacle-driven title to find a new audience on Netflix. Rupert Sanders’ dud is currently the 20th most-watched film in the library around the entire world, which is a surprising turn of events for a project that’s arguably become better known for the backlash it caused than its actual content over the last four years.