Rumor: Marvel Discussed Making ‘Black Widow’ R-Rated

A new rumor claims Disney-owned Marvel Studios “discussed” going R-rated with its Scarlett Johansson-led Black Widow standalone.

That Hashtag Show scooper Charles Murphy dropped the claim on Twitter, writing the possibility arose early on when developing the Avengers prequel-slash-spinoff.

Poised to inherit a sizable cache of Marvel Comics characters currently controlled by X-Men and Fantastic Four rights-holders Fox — who backed R-rated Marvel adaptations Deadpool and Hugh Jackman Wolverine swansong LoganMarvel Studios chief Kevin Feige previously remarked R-rated films are “not out of the question.”

Disney CEO Bob Iger, who already confirmed such characters will be inducted into the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe under the Marvel Studios banner, is on record stating the company’s $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox signals “an opportunity for a Marvel-R brand for something like Deadpool. As long as we let the audiences know what’s coming, we think we can manage that fine.”

Should Disney spin out one of its longest-running Avengers into her own R-rated offshoot, it would make Black Widow the first Marvel Studios film to carry a rating other than its characteristic wide audience-friendly PG-13.

The studio has backed off more adult fare in recent years — preferring instead to back its Marvel and Star Wars offerings, as well as animated-to-live-action re-imaginings like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King alongside animated Walt Disney Animation Studios and Disney-Pixar productions — but producing R-rated films is not a foreign concept to Disney, who in the past operated grown-up labels Touchstone Films, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax and Dimension.

Logan and both Deadpool films have proved R-rated superhero fare can perform strong at the box office — Deadpool earned $783 million in 2016 to become the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever — while Johansson’s Luc Besson-directed 2014 actioner Lucy, also rated R, punched up a $463 million worldwide haul as an original IP.

An R-rated Black Widow becomes less likely when considering the Marvel superheroine has her own kid-friendly character page on the Shop Disney website and featured as a meet-and-greet character at the Disney California Adventure theme park, soon home to a Marvel-inspired land opening in 2020.


Cate Shortland (Lore, Berlin Syndrome) directs Black Widow from a script penned by Jac Shaeffer (Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, The Hustle). Rumored to be set in 2006, two years before the events of Iron Man and preceding The Avengers by six years, Black Widow could see the involvement of Marvel Comics characters Red Guardian and Taskmaster as hinted by reported character descriptions that surfaced in November.

Captain Marvel, the studio’s first female-led movie, is now eyeing a projected $140+ million opening when it opens March 8. Black Widow could arrive in 2020.