Marvel fans have been asking for a Black Widow movie since Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff first hit the big screen in 2010 Ironman 2. I know because I’ve spent a lot of time covering that pressure and the different ways Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige responded when asked about it.
I also spent Black widow‘s COVID-extended pre-release period shook my head at how much more eagerly this movie would have been received had Marvel released it in 2013 or ’14 on the heels of The Avengers‘Billions of success. In front we started talking about MCU fatigue. Before the character Endgame Death. Before that time, Johansson became a Twitter meme for saying: she should be allowed to play a tree.
But now that I’ve seen it, I can’t help but think Black widow Really could not have been published until now (or at least until spring 2020). The reasons for this are still a terrific own goal for Marvel.
Don’t forget that female superheroes used to be tricky
We live in a heyday of female-led action blockbusters, especially in the comic book space. We have not one but two Wonder Woman films, a sequel to Captain Marvel, TV shows for Jessica Jones, Supergirl, Stargirl, the Scarlet Witch and soon Ms. Marvel, Ironheart and She-Hulk. We could have definitely dwarfed that 1990s era when you could possibly see an episode of in a single day of reruns Xena, Star Trek: Voyager, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Cleopatra 2525.
It’s almost enough to make you forget how consistently and vocally nervous top executives at Warner Bros. and Marvel were about the idea of a female-led superhero film for the entire 2010s. The threatening shadow of Cat woman
In 2010, Warner Bros. announced that it would develop a Wonder Woman film. In the same year Nicole Perlman (Guardian of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel) wrote a treatment for a Black Widow film that never took off (she doesn’t get credit for the 2021 film). In 2013, with no Wonder Woman movie in sight, DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson said the character “tricky. “At the same time, Kevin Feige admitted that Marvel Studios had no plans to produce a solo film for a female superhero. Contrary to logic, the one led by Jennifer Lawrence Hunger Games Catch Fire was the fifth most successful film of the year.
In 2014, Variety reported that it a Black widow Film in developmentbut work on it had been delayed to focus on bringing Captain Marvel 2018 on the screens for the first time. Months later, Captain Marvel was again delayed so Marvel could focus on a sequel Ant man. In 2015, Patty Jenkins finally signed up Wonder woman, and when it hit the box office in 2017, Warner Bros. made efforts to renegotiate their original contract – which did not include language locking them up or Gal Gadot for a sequel. Almost as if those involved assumed that there would be no audience for you.
That year, Marvel began its first serious search for a director for a solo Black Widow film. Captain Marvel hit theaters in 2019 for over $ 1 billion, and Hollywood’s fear of superheroes seemed to be easing. Finally it was Black widowyour turn.
But here’s the Black Widow thing
The easiest way to get someone to accept what they consider to be a major risk is to reduce the number of risks. Imagine if you could create a superhero movie with a female lead in the tastiest way a nervous movie manager can get. a small jar of spandex-coated baby food.
Imagine a movie that is limited to a standard superhero origin story that has been tried and tested – hero gets powers, discovered how they work, gets a colorful costume, overthrows obviously bad guys, saves the day with bravery and kindness. The lead actress is at a point in her career where she does not yet have the power to choose any of the lead roles she wants and the leverage to get paid that way. Preferably, the story takes place at least two decades in the past so any examples of sexism the main character faces don’t cause the modern men watching to squirm. And the film as a whole is going to have the least complicated and most obvious message a Hollywood executive would imagine for a superhero film with a female lead: peace, with an ancillary to girl power.
That is exactly it Wonder woman and Captain Marvel look. They are two of the most superhero superhero films since the first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and full of girl power moments. That’s not a bad thing for Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel – both characters were designed from the start to shoulder the weight of an overtly feminist superhero, not just a superhero who happens to be a woman.
But Black Widow will never be a rosy girl power character – her fist is raised We can do it! Curls – because Nobody should ever do what she did. Instead of heroism and imagination for power, her character hook is atonement, hard-won freedom of choice and unshakable competence. And she atone for some objectively terrible things! Murder, assassination and a multitude of [thinking face emoji] other actions for which she feels deep remorse.
For Black Widow, that’s not a bad thing. It’s not her fault that she wasn’t safe enough to spoon-feed a Hollywood executive. It is Marvel’s fault that he decided that the symbolic woman of the Avengers would be a reformed supervillain.
Red in a ledger
I can’t say exactly what Marvel creators thought when they made Black Widow the symbolic girl of the Avengers. Among other things, it’s pretty obvious that Natasha Romanoff is a popular character archetype of writer and director Joss Whedon; like Buffy, River Song or Echo, she is a traumatized girl who is turned into a killing machine by men.
But it’s easy to see what they didn’t think: They didn’t think about how Black Widow, a character with a dark backstory and no superpowers, wasn’t fit for the standard superhero origins arc that featured the Marvel Cinematic Universe had built up. They did not think of paying Scarlett Johansson a leading actress’ salary instead of a supporting actor. They didn’t think of using their most anticipated film to introduce yet another female superhero, which would have expanded the choices for an established MCU superhero to develop in her own franchise. They didn’t choose a character on the basis of whether or not they were suited to direct a first superhero movie.
In front Black widow could move forward, it took 2017’s Wonder woman. Just four months after it hit screens, Marvel finally recruited a new screenwriter for Black widow. Wonder woman had made female-led superhero films viable, and within a year Black widow finally a director. But Marvel was still prioritizing the un-featured Captain Marvel over a character fans had known for nine years. Her story was of an energetic standard superhero origin and corresponded to the feminist-light form in which Hollywood feels most comfortable. Now, and only now, has Marvel been able to insert a darkly funny, women-centric spy film into their superhero universe.
It’s easy to imagine Marvel executives taking a sigh of relief at Black Widow’s death Avengers: Endgame. Now they would have the perfect excuse not to have to negotiate a solo franchise with Scarlett Johansson – the highest paid actress of 2018 and 2019 in Hollywood – just the only solo film that’s already on the release calendar.
Marvel never built Black Widow as a franchise-bearing figure. And thanks to that, it will never be.