Kevin Feige and Scarlett Johansson Explain Why Black Widow Solo Film Took So Long

When Black Widow hits theaters, Scarlett Johansson will have portrayed the titular super spy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a decade. Having debuted in the role back 2010's Iron Man 2, Johansson's Natasha Romanoff has evolved throughout appearances in films which followed, such as Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. As the character's presence grew and story threads of her past became more intriguing, questions of whether or not she would get her own proper outing in a solo film began to swirl more commonly. Now, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and Johansson herself have explained why now is the time.

“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 told EW. “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.” With the Infinity Saga being a thing of the past, the first step into the MCU's Phase 4 will explore that past.

With the train constantly rolling forward, ultimately towards the character's demise in Avengers: Endgame, Johansson admits that she was reluctant to dive into a Black Widow movie, as well. “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.”

Ultimately, the convincing came where the opportunity to explore more of Natasha's past presented itself. “I thought it was interesting to explore this part of her life before she rejoins the Avengers, before she makes that ultimate sacrifice,” Johansson said. “How does she become this full person from all these broken pieces?”

While Phase 4 will begin with a prequel, the Black Widow movie might do more to expand future horizons for the Marvel Cinematic Universe than the word prequel might imply. Like all of the movies which it will be sharing a universe with, Black Widow appears to be moving things forward, as well. “A prequel that simply filled in the blanks of things you already know is not very exciting,” Feige said. “How does she get her Widow stingers for the first time? How did she learn to do a flip? That doesn’t matter.” As for what we will see: more Widows. Florence Pugh joins as Yelena Belova, Rachel Weisz checks in as Melina Vostakoff, and a slew of others from the Red Room program will also debut -- along with David Harbour as Red Guardian.

“This film is very much a result of that journey, my own personal journey,” Johansson adds. “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.”

As the character has always been infamously known to have red in her ledger, along with being seen deceiving characters when necessary, Johansson is excited to see where all of those decisions and that history comes from. "Maybe I wouldn’t even have been as curious about that part of [Natasha] before,” she said. “Maybe I would’ve been more interested in wearing all these masks, and now I’m more interested in what’s behind them."

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Black Widow hits theaters on May 1.