Scarlett Johansson leads Black Widow a decade after super-spy Natasha Romanoff first flipped into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2010's Iron Man 2, but Marvel Studios master planner Kevin Feige teased a solo movie even before The Avengers. Around the time of the 2012 superhero ensemble — bringing together Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, and Johansson as Earth's mightiest heroes — Feige and Johansson discussed the potential of a Black Widow spinoff. Years later, ahead of the character's long-awaited solo movie, Johansson told EW that conversation during the Avengers press tour was just "a tiny speck of an idea."
But Feige and Johansson first tossed around the idea in 2010, something the franchise producer confirmed during an interview promoting the Blu-ray and DVD release of Iron Man 2.
When SuperHeroHype asked about a Black Widow movie in September 2010, Feige answered, "We've already started discussions with Scarlett about the idea of a solo movie and have begun putting together concepts, but The Avengers comes first."
Johansson would star in four Avengers movies before Black Widow, including Avengers: Endgame, where Romanoff erased the red in her ledger by sacrificing herself to help resurrect the billions of lives snapped out of existence by Thanos (Josh Brolin).
The Cate Shortland-directed Black Widow will bring some of that stained history to light with a story taking place in between the events of 2016's Captain America: Civil War and 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, peeking into Romanoff's past and her connection to franchise newcomers Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), and Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour).
During the era of early 2000s blockbusters Spider-Man and X-Men — before Marvel Studios launched its universe with 2008's Iron Man — Black Widow was to be the next Marvel Comics property on the big screen alongside the similarly scrapped feature film Iron Fist.
In 2003, Lions Gate Entertainment, who would release the Thomas Jane-starring Marvel adaptation The Punisher in 2004, secured the screen rights to then-B-list Marvel heroes Black Widow and Iron Fist. By 2006, the studio dropped Widow because a crop of recent female-driven action films lacked a punch at the box office, according to a report from IGN FilmForce.
The early iteration of the project, without Feige or Johansson, was described as a "contemporary and realistic espionage adventure" taking the ultra lethal Black Widow "into Kazakhstan, to the Red Room, and beyond." Screenwriter David Hayter, who also developed an early version of Iron Man when the project passed into the hands of New Line Cinema in 2004, said at the time he "never felt comfortable that we had found a place that was willing to take the movie, and the character, seriously."0comments
"I have put it aside until a reputable studio comes along, but in the meantime, I am heartbroken," Hayter told IGN in 2006. "I love this character, I love the story/world we came up with for her, and I sincerely hope the movie gets done someday."
"Someday" comes November 6, when Disney releases Black Widow as the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The studio once planned to open the movie May 1 but delayed Black Widow by six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.