Scarlett Johansson didn’t immediately jump on board with the idea of a stand-alone feature film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) about her character Natasha Romanova or Black Widow. Rather, the double Oscar nominee for Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit had been in talks about the possibility of a solo film for years.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly published on March 10, 2020, Johansson discussed how Black Widow, a prequel to the events in the Avengers movies that culminated with Black Widow — spoiler! — sacrificing herself in Avengers: Endgame.
Scarlett Johansson didn’t ‘want to do the same thing’ she’d ‘already done before’
Johansson said, despite fans who have been asking for a female-driven MCU film for years, she felt Black Widow couldn’t have been released sooner because it “would not have been as substantial.” On top of that, there were other concerns. In addition to the possible issue of not having enough content for a standalone movie about Black Widow, Johansson didn’t know how the project would be different from all the others before it.
The 35-year-old actress had been playing Black Widow in the MCU since Iron Man 2 premiered in 2010. Understandably, she’d gotten to know her character very well, almost to the point where Johansson felt she’d developed a been-there-done-that attitude.
“I was like, I think I’m good,” Johansson told the publication of her reaction to a standalone movie about Black Widow.
For her, Black Widow had to be different than what she previously experienced in the MCU. She wanted to encounter something new as an actress.
“If we [were] going to do this, it had to be creatively fulfilling,” she said. “I’ve been working for such a long time, and I have to feel like I’m challenged. I don’t want to do the same thing that I’d already done before.”
It all started when Johansson and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige began discussing the possibility of a film centered around Black Widow while on the press tour for The Avengers in 2012. Back then, Black Widow had been “a tiny speck of an idea.” In the years since, the possibility has grown to be a reality, one that’s opening a decade after Johansson’s debut as Black Widow.
Talking with ‘Black Widow’ director convinced Scarlett Johansson to do the movie
What changed Johansson’s mind? Having a conversation with Cate Shortland, who went on to become the director of Black Widow and the first woman to direct an MCU film by herself.
Shortland, who also spoke to Entertainment Weekly, recalled she and Johansson discussed the idea of women-focused stories when they first met.
“We just bonded over stories about trust and about intimacy and about women surviving,” Shortland said. “You didn’t have to be a superhero to identify with a woman who has had a really tough childhood and has survived and has a huge heart and helps other people.”
The two must’ve really connected over women-driven stories because Johansson moved forward with Black Widow leaving behind her doubts about the film not having enough meat to it or her personally not being challenged by the work.
Black Widow opens in theaters on May 1, 2020.