How Scarlett Johansson Felt About Being ‘Second Choice’ For Marvel’s Black Widow

Mega star Scarlett Johansson is one of Hollywood’s biggest box office draws. Recently nominated for two Oscars for her roles in Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit, the actress now has her pick of parts in a host of top films.

Her rise to super stardom can be attributed to her being given the part of Black Widow in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, though Johansson readily admits she wasn’t the first choice to portray the superhero.

Scarlett Johansson attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Scarlett Johansson | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Emily Blunt bows out of playing Black Widow

A Quiet Place star Emily Blunt became a famous face as Meryl Streep’s snooty assistant in the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada. While the movie put Blunt on the celebrity map, Vulture reports that her contract prevented her from taking on the role of Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow) when the character made her debut in Iron Man 2.

Blunt had a second shot at being a part of the Marvel franchise when she was offered the role of Peggy Carter in Captain America (which ended up going to Hayley Atwell) but had to again decline due to scheduling conflicts.

“It was never the right time, really, and it just didn’t work out scheduling-wise with those two,” Blunt told Vulture in 2014. “It’s always a difficult thing to talk about, because it’s not fair to the actresses who ended up playing them, you know? It just wasn’t the right time.”

Blunt’s rejections ended up giving Johansson a career-making opportunity.

Scarlett Johansson joins MCU

Johansson is very forthcoming on not being the first pick for the superhero role. In a recent interview with Parade, the actress described her “wonderful” meeting with Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau regarding the part of Black Widow.

“I was really excited to work with him, so I said, ‘If this doesn’t work out, I’m an actor for hire, so call me anytime,’ ” Johansson recalled telling Favreau.

Despite originally being passed over for Blunt, Johansson clearly remembers the joy she felt upon receiving the offer when Blunt couldn’t commit and feels no remorse over being number two on the list.

“The best call you can receive is after you are rejected for something and then you get it,” Johansson told Parade. “You appreciate it more. I’ve basically made a career out of being second choice.”

Record-breaking success of Marvel Cinematic Universe

Johansson is still astounded by the mass appeal of the franchise, recalling the legendary scene from the 2012 film The Avengers where the original six superheroes – Black Widow, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, and Hawkeye – prepare for battle in New York City.

“It’s the iconic hero shot,” the Marvel actress said. “We were all thinking, ‘This is crazy!’ because these worlds were coming together. We’re still processing how much of an impact these movies have had.”

Serving as star and co-executive producer of the upcoming film Black Widow, Johansson’s Romanoff examines her past in Budapest, set before 2016’s Captain America. The actress commented on the movie’s more introspective tone.

“It’s a film very much about self-forgiveness and accepting decisions that were made for you,” the Academy Award nominee said. “It’s much deeper than anything we could have done earlier.”

Looking back, Johansson considers her rejections as a path to another opportunity, and encourages others to stay positive when things don’t work out as planned. “Since a very young age, I’ve been rejected constantly,” she revealed. “When people starting out ask me for advice, I always say to stay open-minded, because you never know.”

Black Widow is scheduled for release in November 2020.