Nearly a decade ago, Scarlett Johansson and Marvel chief creative officer Kevin Feige were on the press tour for 2012’s The Avengers when the two first explored the possibility of a standalone film centered around her character, Natasha Romanoff. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, the Black Widow star described that early concept as merely "a tiny speck of an idea."
Even though Johansson has been tied to Marvel Studios since her appearance in Iron Man 2 in 2010, it was Brie Larson who starred in Marvel Studios' first solo woman-led film with Captain Marvel last year. From the outside looking in, it felt like Johansson had been overlooked, but Feige explained that properly closing the chapter of what would ultimately be Romanoff's life told through the conclusion of the Infinity Saga took precedence.
"We had been planning the conclusion for the Infinity Saga for the past five or six years, and Natasha’s journey within those films took the priority," Feige said. "The notion of breaking out for a stand-alone film that takes place in the past, for a character that we already knew and were already following, didn’t feel right."
When time finally came for a Black Widow standalone, it was Johansson who had reservations about taking on the project unless it was "creatively fulfilling."
"I was like, 'I think I'm good,'" she said. "If we [were] going to do this, it had to be creatively fulfilling. I've been working for such a long time, and I have to feel like I'm challenged. I don't want to do the same thing that I'd already done before."
The process of selling her on the film happened after she met with Black Widow director Cate Shortland, the first solo woman director in the history of the MCU.
"When I looked at the past films, there’s a lot of sitting outside of the character, so that she is seen and kind of objectified," Shortland told EW. "Oftentimes we don’t really get to see who she is when she’s by herself—who she is when she takes off the action-hero facade." he idea of exploring Romanoff's life before the Avengers intrigued Johansson, who wanted to show how she became "this full person from all these broken pieces."
"This film is very much a result of that journey, my own personal journey," Johansson added. "I feel that I probably wasn’t as willing or able to go to the kind of uncomfortable, embarrassing, ugly places before. I think it’s just as you get older, you trust yourself more."
Black Widow is scheduled to hit theaters on April 24.