Scarlett Johansson: I didn’t want Black Widow to be a spy movie

Scarlett Johansson has had quite a bit of time to think about a Black Widow movie. After all, she played the character in seven films spanning 10 years.

Yet unlike many of her fellow Avengers who had great introductions to films and sequels bearing their names on the marquee, she built the enigmatic Natasha Romanoff as a side scene thief beginning with her introduction in Iron Man 2. in 2010 until its release in Avengers: Endgame.

By the time her name was called for a coveted standalone, she knew above all that she wanted the Black Widow movie to be unexpected. And as the first lead actor to ever be a producer on a Marvel movie, she actually had a say.


The character, introduced in the comics in 1964, is inextricably linked to a spy aesthetic from the Soviet era of James Bond. But it seemed like the easy way.

“I didn’t want this to be a spy movie,” Johansson said. “I think we avoided this.”

Instead, Black Widow helps remove the layers of a hard-to-grasp character, with a bit of origin story, a bit of coda, and the introduction of people outside of the Avengers who mean something to her. . Johansson also personally recruited Australian freelance director Cate Shortland, another unexpected and inspired choice, to the helm.

Marvel veteran Eric Pearson was given the task of writing the script and took advantage of the fact that the character seemed to change and become more emotionally vulnerable between Civil War and Infinity War / Endgame as Black Widow unfolds.

“We’re looking at what happened there,” Pearson said. “What happened when she went back and faced her past that opened her heart and kind of opened her up to the world and ultimately led her to make that all-time sacrifice at the end of “Endgame”. “


Part of that involved introducing some sort of sister character into Yelena Belova, played as an adult by Florence Pugh, who also had the traumatic experience of being trained in the Red Room as a child. .

“Florence is so vibrant and interesting to watch that you think, ‘OK … there is going to be life here,’” Johansson said.

Although they didn’t really know each other beforehand, they quickly connected on set, partly because of the natural chemistry between the two and partly because of the extreme nature of filming a thriller d. big budget action.

“Our first day, I threw it against a piece of furniture and we both had our hands under our armpits. And that’s when I was like, ‘Oh, my God, my armpits are sweaty. And Scarlett Johansson touches me, ”Pugh said. “Once the ice is broken, you know, best friends. Weird the first day, however, to begin with.

It was a deservedly epic undertaking, toured over 87 days in London, Norway, Budapest, Morocco and Atlanta, with mind-blowing fights, motorcycle stunts, car chases and even a skydiving streak. For Pugh, who is best known for somewhat less show-focused films like Midfielder and Little Woman, it was an eye-opening experience.

Black Widow Scarlett Johansson, left, and Florence Pugh in a scene from Black Widow. (Jay Maidment / Marvel Studios-Disney via AP)

“It was so impressive to see so many departments doing so many things. And you have been completely involved in the process and its creation. And I really appreciated how much you were expected to be there the entire trip, ”Pugh said. “It just waited and watching the movie a year later even more exciting because you’re like, ‘Oh my God, it took so many days to shoot and here we are flying through the air by bike. “”

Black Widow has the distinction of being the first Marvel film to debut day in and day out on a streaming platform, having been delayed for over a year due to the pandemic. Like a handful of Disney releases over the past year, it will be available in theaters around the world on Friday and for rent on Disney + for $ 30.

However, the film isn’t just a tribute and goodbye to a beloved character. It also kicks off Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after an unforeseen two-year hiatus in Marvel theatrical releases after Avengers: Endgame (and, technically, Spider-Man: Far From Home).

The stakes for big-budget Marvel movies are always high, but Black Widow will also be a litmus test not only because of the unconventional release strategy, but also as a measure of audience interest in the cinematic juggernaut at the future.

Following the construction of 23 films from Endgame, which currently holds the title of the second highest grossing film of all time after a re-release of Avatar during the pandemic, Marvel is entering uncharted territory with new characters in films like Shang. -Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, scheduled for September, and Eternals in November. But Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige doesn’t put much emphasis on it. This new phase, he said, is one of the “new beginnings” to move forward.

“In our films, there’s this great shared experience that all the characters have had with it, what we call the blip. Now, in real life, all of us, as humans on earth, have had the shared experience of this pandemic, of this containment. So there is an interesting parallel that we played on in our stories, ”he said. “It’s been two years since we had a movie in theaters and we’re ready. Hope the fans are ready.

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