Scarlett Johansson says there were “many different iterations” of Marvel’s Black Widow, the first standalone film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe fronted by Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff. Versions of Black Widow predate Johansson’s MCU debut in 2010’s Iron Man 2, including the “contemporary and realistic espionage adventure” that Lionsgate put into development in 2004 — four years before Marvel Studios and producer Kevin Feige launched the MCU with Iron Man. The version of Black Widow now playing in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access is about family, including Natasha’s reunion with her “little sister”: the black widow Yelena Belova (Marvel franchise newcomer Florence Pugh).
“We could have made some other version of this film along the way. It just wouldn’t have been this movie,” Johansson told MTV News about the spy thriller and family drama from director Cate Shortland. “I didn’t have the same perspective of 10 years of time to draw from. This film had many different iterations. It wasn’t a story that we were obligated to tell, so you know, it started out [differently], and there was a version of it that was very status quo.”
In one early version, Johansson revealed, “Yelena and Natasha are adversaries and Yelena’s trying to dethrone her, like whatever kind of spy espionage version [that] was. I was like, ‘I cannot go back to work for this.’ And then there was another version that I had developed that was really existential, kind of weird. And Kevin Feige was like, ‘I don’t think I can come into work for this’ (laughs). It was weird, I liked it.”
A “mid-quel” set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel’s Black Widow is about a fugitive Natasha on the run from Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) for violating the Sokovia Accords. When a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises, Natasha reunites with her found family from before the Avengers: “little sister” Yelena, their “mother” Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), and their “father,” the Russian super-soldier Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour).
“Kevin had this idea to make this film about [Natasha’s family]. He wanted it to be about family, like this sort of dysfunctional family. He woke up one day and that was his thing,” Johansson said. “It took me a long time to wrap my head around it for obvious reasons, but I don’t think we would have been able to get to where we got to if we did this at any other time. There was just no other way to explore all that stuff without knowing what we knew after 10 years.”
Marvel’s Black Widow is now playing in theaters and streaming on Disney+ Premier Access.
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