How Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Black Widow’ Will Change With a Female Writer and Director

The push to create a more diverse roster of Marvel superheroes goes on, with explorations of the women’s side becoming a priority before anything else. If many would argue they’ve already broached this through Captain Marvel, no Marvel fan should carp about the MCU continuing this hot streak. Even if more minorities and an LGBTQ representation are still being lobbied, we find the analysis of female superheroes a perpetual wellspring of ideas.

Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson from Black Widow | Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Exploring the world of Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff) is going to open a new window into the previous unknown background of an original Avenger. Natasha (played to perfection by Scarlett Johansson) existed during the Soviet Empire, offering political intrigue that goes beyond where we are now.

At the helm are a woman writer and director, likely giving more insight into how women interact, even if enemies.

A look at Jac Schaeffer and Cate Shortland

We published a piece earlier this year about another important woman who’s involved in the Marvel realm. Her name is Jac Schaeffer who’s worked as screenwriter on Captain Marvel and on Black Widow. Schaeffer has been very open about wanting to reinvent superhero movies with women and without fear of what devoted male comic book fans say.

If Schaeffer is already leaving a notable imprint on the Marvel films, Cate Shortland soon will as well. Latter became the director of Black Widow after an intense search of 70 candidates for just the right director.

Shortland is an Aussie where she’s already known for bringing an intelligent insight into women characters through her indie features like Lore. According to The Hollywood Reporter, this is what interested Johansson herself, leading to a personal recommendation to hire Shortland.

All of this transpired only a month ago, so we don’t know everything Shortland will do. At least with the recent preview clip of BW at D23 Expo, it’s more than clear Shortland is about to change how we’ve viewed Black Widow all along.

Digging deeper into how women interact

The divide between male and female writers/directors is still far too wide, especially in how to craft the right dialogue and situations. While you’ll find some male writers who have instinctual insight into a woman’s psyche, hiring a real woman is always the better choice to avoid the usual cliches.

Now with Schaeffer and Shortland in the mix at Marvel, they’re going to bring things that 95% of male action movie writers would likely never think to put in there. Any clues we can glean from this might come through the audio snippets leaked from the D23 Expo preview.

During the four-minute BW trailer, you could hear some of the dialogue between Natasha and her former Soviet spy sister, Yelena. These witty exchanges are more in tune of how women really interact, even if it does ultimately result in a chaotic fight scene.

You can say the same about poking fun at many superhero conventions, like physical posing. During one moment, you can hear Yelena ribbing Natasha for the pose she always makes while fighting.

What more will the two women bring to Natasha Romanoff we haven’t seen?

Johansson has described Natasha in the solo film as a woman who’s finally finding her own way through independent choices, something she’d never had a chance to do before.

Considering she had to share the name “Black Widow” with other women when training to be a KGB spy in the Soviet Union, she’s never really had any sense of individuality.

Going back in time and exploring this aspect (long before her overlooked sacrificial death at the end of Endgame) already reinvents Black Widow into a compelling female superhero as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers became.

Of course, this creative team should expect the usual backlash when the film debuts next year. One can only hope Shortland has the fortitude to take these people on through social media as much as Schaeffer has.