Why Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Black Widow’ Won’t Disappoint Marvel Fans

If anyone can bring back a woman from the dead, it’s Scarlett Johansson.

Marvel Cinematic Universe fans have long clamored for Johansson’s Black Widow to get her own movie. In fact, that clamor started nearly 10 years ago, when the character first burst on the scene in Iron Man 2. Captain Marvel may have beaten Black Widow to the big screen, but for many fans, Black Widow is the OG Marvel female hero, and Johansson is bound and determined not to let the fans down. 

What’s ‘Black Widow’ about? 

Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson | Luca Carlino/NurPhoto

Marvel Studios has been notoriously secretive as ever about the plot, but they have released a few basic details. As expected, the movie is a prequel, focusing on the events just after Captain America: Civil War, when the Avengers fractured and Natasha sided with Team Cap. 

Natasha is “very much on her own and over the events of the Black Widow movie; she has to reckon with some of the red in her ledger,” said screenwriter Jac Schaeffer in an interview with Inverse.

David Harbour of Stranger Things fame plays Red Guardian, a Russian super-soldier who is the Russian equivalent of the Winter Soldier. Florence Pugh, who has had a breakout year with acclaimed performances in the wrestling drama Fighting with My Family and the indie horror film Midsommar, plays Yelena, a sister figure and sometimes nemesis to Natasha.

Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz plays a spy involved in a scientific experiment. Both Pugh and Weisz’s characters also go by the name Black Widow.

“The movie packs a big punch,” Johansson promises. 

Johansson doesn’t just act in the movie

Having played Natasha for about 10 years now in eight MCU movies, Johansson feels so heavily invested in the character that she’s taking ownership in her solo movie, acting as an executive producer who has say in the casting and story decisions, according to the Hollywood Reporter

“I feel like I’m in control of the destiny of this film, which gives me a lot more peace of mind,” she said. “I know her better than anybody. What was her childhood like? What is her relationship to figures of authority? This character is gritty and multi-dimensional but has a lot of trauma and has led an unexamined life. In order to operate at this elite level, she has probably had to push away a lot of stuff.”

Schaeffer promises that the story will have more sympathetic villains, less fetishization of weaponry and better representation beyond just having a central female hero.

That may not please certain audiences set in their ways who tried to take Captain Marvel down a few pegs, but the writer doesn’t care, saying, “I’m not interested in adhering to comic canon that is discriminatory in any way or that violates my values system … that’s not where I want to put my energy. I’m not interested in the loud, sour-grapes voices.”

What else is Johansson working on?

The actress has had an extraordinarily busy year, with all the MCU intensity being a mere portion of it. She announced her engagement to Saturday Night Live performer Colin Jost, and she’s received rave reviews for her performance opposite Adam Driver in the upcoming Marriage Story, which deals with the pain of divorce. 

Despite her long and storied career, Johansson has not yet scored an Oscar nomination, and this movie may change that. Johansson drew on personal experience, having been divorced twice, from Ryan Reynolds and from Romain Dauriac, the father of her child.

Now, she intends to branch out even more in the industry, with an eye on the camera viewfinder. 

“Before, I was more focused on my acting career,” she says. “Now, I’d happily take the time to develop something to direct. I’ve actively looked for a long time and just haven’t found the right fit.”