‘Black Widow’: Scarlett Johansson Says That Marvel Studios Would’ve Had Natasha and Yelena ‘Facing Off To Gain Power’ 10 Years Ago — ‘That’s Not How Women React To One Another’

Marvel’s latest movie Black Widow is also one of its most anticipated. After being filmed two years ago, the film’s scheduled 2020 release was postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The superhero flick is a slight departure from previous Marvel works, as it features a women-led cast and storyline. Until now Captain Marvel was the only Marvel movie that had a female lead, but Black Widow stars Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh are changing the look and feel of the franchise’s films.

Johansson has been very outspoken about the need for more female representation in cinema, especially Marvel films. However, she also understands that recent cultural movements have opened the door for more opportunities that didn’t exist before. In fact, she personally believes that Black Widow’s storyline would’ve pitted her and Pugh’s character’s against each other 10 years ago. 

Scarlett Johansson loves that ‘Black Widow’ portrays a new narrative for women

(L-R) Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh, stars of 'Black Widow', attend the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland
(L-R) Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh, stars of ‘Black Widow’, attend the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

RELATED: Scarlett Johansson Says ‘Black Widow’ Would’ve Been a ‘Missed Opportunity’ if It Didn’t Discuss Female Empowerment

Johansson discussed Black Widow’s cultural relevance during a recent interview with Rotten Tomatoes. 

“We don’t have to tell this story, we’re telling it because we want to,” Johansson said. “So that’s really liberating. It’s daunting in some ways, but it gives you all this free reign, and it would be amiss if we didn’t reflect on what’s happening in the zeitgeist and how it empowering it is for women to be lifting each other up out of a situation and strengthening one another and supporting one another.”

She thinks ‘Black Widow’ producers would’ve pitted Natasha and Yelena against each other 10 years ago

Later in the interview, Johansson noted that Black Widow likely would’ve had a completely different plot if it had been made a decade ago when female representation was a lot less accurate. 

“There’s definitely another version of this that would be the movie that we probably would’ve made 10 years ago, which is like, two women facing off to gain power,” Johansson added. “And that’s now how women react to one another or relate to one another. How much more interesting is this story, to really see women coming out the other side as survivors from some shared traumatic experience that they both — or they all — have had to face, and something that’s been holding them back that they can now move forward from. 

Now that Marvel Studios has opened the door for more diverse stories about women, Johansson is excited to see what the future holds for their movies. 

“That’s just incredible that we were able to be in a place where the studio would support that message. It’s been a long journey to get here and it’s exciting to know that we’re never going to be looking backwards, it’s just going to be moving forward,” Johansson said. 

The original ‘Black Widow’ story had Natasha and Yelena battling each other, but she fought to have it changed

Even though some might argue that Johansson’s initial comments were a bit presumptuous, they came from factual information. In a separate interview with Collider, she revealed that the original Black Widow storyline did in fact have Natasha and Yelena fighting each other for power. 

However, she was able to leverage her talent and influence to lobby for major changes to the script, which led to Black Widow becoming more of a story about sisterhood and overcoming trauma instead of competition.

“It just didn’t feel like what I wanted to explore and I think what, really, audiences wanted to see,” she told Collider. “It just felt very old-fashioned and not true, and so taking that feeling and running with that instinct, the relationship developed into what it is, which is it’s a relationship that I think is grounded in a shared experience and a knowingness and a sisterhood. With that comes many complicated feelings, of course. Not all good, fuzzy ones, but real grounded ones.”

Black Widow hits theaters and Disney+ on July 9.