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Black Widow (2020 film)

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Black Widow
Black Widow - official logo.jpg
Official logo
Directed byCate Shortland
Produced byKevin Feige
Written by
Based on
Starring
Production
company
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date
  • May 1, 2020 (2020-05-01) (United States)
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Black Widow is an upcoming American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is intended to be the twenty-fourth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is directed by Cate Shortland, written by Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson, and stars Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, alongside David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O-T Fagbenle, and Rachel Weisz.

Development of a Black Widow film began in April 2004 by Lionsgate, with David Hayter attached to write and direct. The project did not move forward and the film rights to the character reverted to Marvel Studios by June 2006. Johansson was cast in the role for several MCU films beginning with Iron Man 2 (2010). Marvel and Johansson expressed interest in a solo film several times over the following years, before development progressed with the hiring of Schaeffer and Shortland in 2018. Benson was hired and further casting took place in early 2019. Filming began in May, taking place in Norway, Pinewood Studios in England, and Macon, Georgia, and ended in October.

Black Widow is scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States on May 1, 2020.

Premise

Following the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016),[1] Natasha Romanoff finds herself alone and forced to confront her past.[2]

Cast

Feige, Shortland, and the main cast of Black Widow at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con

Additionally, Ray Winstone and Olivier Richters have been cast in undisclosed roles.[12][13] The character Taskmaster will be featured in the film.[14] Robert Downey Jr. and William Hurt respectively appear in their MCU roles as Tony Stark / Iron Man and Thaddeus Ross.[15][16]

Production

Development

"What I tried to do was use the backdrop of the splintered Soviet Empire—a lawless insane asylum with 400-some odd nuclear missile silos. It was all about loose nukes, and I felt it was very timely and very cool. Unfortunately, as I was coming up on the final draft, a number of female vigilante movies came out. We had Tomb Raider and Kill Bill, which were the ones that worked, but then we had BloodRayne and Ultraviolet and Æon Flux. Æon Flux didn't open well, and three days after it opened, the studio said, 'We don't think it's time to do this movie.'"

—David Hayter on his version of the script and why that project failed to move forward.[17]

In February 2004, Lionsgate acquired the film rights for Black Widow,[18] and in April announced David Hayter as writer and director of the film, with Avi Arad producing.[19] By June 2006, Lionsgate had dropped the project and the rights reverted to Marvel Studios. Hayter and Marvel tried getting another financier to develop the project, but Hayter "never felt comfortable that we had found a place that was willing to take the movie, and the character, seriously." This left Hayter "heartbroken", but he hoped the film would be made "some day".[20]

In January 2009, Marvel entered early talks with Emily Blunt to play Black Widow in Iron Man 2,[21] though she was unable to take the role due to a previous commitment to star in Gulliver's Travels.[22] In March 2009, Scarlett Johansson signed on to play Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, with her deal including options for multiple films.[23] In September 2010, while promoting the home media release of Iron Man 2, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige stated that discussions with Johansson had already taken place regarding a Black Widow standalone film, but that Marvel's focus was on 2012's The Avengers.[24] Johansson appeared in that film as the character,[25] as well as 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier,[26] 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron,[27] 2016's Captain America: Civil War,[28] 2018's Avengers: Infinity War,[29] and 2019's Avengers: Endgame.[30] After the release of Age of Ultron, Johansson revealed that the number of films on her contract had been adjusted since she first signed to match the "demand of the character", as Marvel had not anticipated the audience's "great reaction" to the character and her performance.[31]

In February 2014, Feige stated that after exploring Black Widow's past in Age of Ultron, he would like to see it explored further in a solo film, which already had development work done for it,[32] including a "pretty in depth" treatment by Nicole Perlman, who co-wrote Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).[33] The following April, Johansson expressed interest in starring in a Black Widow film, and said that it would be driven by demand from the audience.[34] That July, Hayter expressed interest in reviving the project for Marvel,[35] and the following month, director Neil Marshall stated that he "would love to do a Black Widow film," saying he felt the character was "really interesting [given] she doesn't have any superpowers, she just has extraordinary skills, and the world that she comes from, being this ex-K.G.B. assassin, I find that really fascinating."[36] In April 2015, Johansson spoke more on the possibility of a solo Black Widow film, seeing the potential to explore the different "layers" of her depicted in the different films so far, but also stating that "right now I think this character is used well in this part of the universe".[31] While promoting Captain America: Civil War the next April, Feige noted that due to the announced schedule of films, any potential Black Widow film would be four or five years away.[37] He added that Marvel was "creatively and emotionally" committed to making a Black Widow film eventually.[38]

In July 2016, Joss Whedon, the director of The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, stated that he was open to directing a Black Widow film, feeling he could make "a spy thriller. Like really do a good, paranoid, 'John le Carré on crack' sort of thing."[39] In October, Johansson discussed the potential film being a prequel, saying, "you can bring it back to Russia. You could explore the Widow program. There's all kinds of stuff that you could do with it." She did caution she may not want to "wear a skin-tight catsuit" for much longer.[40] The next February, Johansson said that she would dedicate herself to making any potential Black Widow film "amazing. It would have to be the best version that movie could possibly be. Otherwise, I would never do it ... [it would] have to be its own standalone and its own style and its own story."[41] Due to the development work already done, and the public support for a Black Widow film, Marvel ultimately decided that the "best time to move forward with the project" would be at the beginning of the "latest phase" of the MCU in 2020.[7]

In October 2017, Feige met with Johansson to discuss the direction of a potential solo film, before Marvel began meeting with writers for the project, including Jac Schaeffer.[42] Schaeffer met with Feige again in December, and was hired to write a script for the film before the end of 2017.[43][44] Schaeffer and Johansson were set to discuss the direction of the film at the beginning of February 2018.[45] Marvel began meeting with female directors to potentially take on the project, part of a priority push by major film studios to hire female directors for franchises.[46] By the end of April, the studio had met with over 65 directors for the project in an "extremely thorough" search,[47] including Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Chloé Zhao—who was eventually chosen to direct Marvel's The Eternals[48] Amma Asante,[46] and Lynn Shelton.[49] In the following months, this was reduced to a shortlist of 49 directors before the top choices of Cate Shortland, Asante, and Maggie Betts met with Feige and Johansson in June.[50] Mélanie Laurent and Kimberly Peirce were also in the "next-to-final mix".[51][3] Shortland had the backing of Johansson, a fan of the director's previous female-starring film Lore (2012), and was hired the next month.[3]

The Hollywood Reporter reported in October 2018 that Johansson would earn $15 million to appear in the film, an increase from the "low-seven figure salary" she earned for starring in The Avengers. The $15 million was equal to what Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth each earned in Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. Despite The Hollywood Reporter confirming the amount from "multiple knowledgeable sources", Marvel Studios disputed the accuracy of the numbers while stating that they "never publicly disclose salaries or deal terms."[52]

Pre-production

In February 2019, Ned Benson was hired to rewrite the script,[53] and Feige confirmed the studio was not looking to have the film receive an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America, which had been rumored previously.[54] The following month, Florence Pugh entered negotiations to join the cast as a spy who is "morally opposite" to Romanoff.[55] Marvel had been considering Pugh for the role since late 2018 but began looking at other actresses, including Saoirse Ronan, in early 2019.[7][56] The studio returned to Pugh for the role after she received strong reviews for her performance in the film Fighting with My Family (2019).[7] In April 2019, Pugh was confirmed to have been cast alongside David Harbour,[5] Rachel Weisz,[10][9] and O-T Fagbenle.[9] Feige likened the film to the television series Better Call Saul, which is a prequel to the series Breaking Bad, because it was "a wonderful example of a prequel that almost completely stands on its own... [but] it informs you about so many things you didn't know about before."[57]

Filming

Principal photography began on May 28, 2019, in Norway.[58] By early June, production moved to Pinewood Studios,[59] while Ray Winstone joined the film later that month.[12] The film was officially announced at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con in July, with a release date of May 1, 2020, revealed alongside roles for the new cast members: Harbour portrays Alexei Shostakov / Red Guardian, Pugh portrays Yelena Belova, Fagbenle portrays Mason, and Weisz portrays Melina.[6] In August, bodybuilder Olivier Richters announced that he had been cast in the film.[13] The next month, Robert Downey Jr. was expected to appear in the film in his MCU role as Tony Stark / Iron Man, despite his appearance in Endgame being considered to be his "swan song performance".[15] A wrap party for the film was held at the end of September,[60][61] before production moved to Macon, Georgia for the week of September 30. Filming locations in Macon, including Terminal Station, were dressed to portray Albany, New York.[61] Production officially wrapped in early October.[62]

Marketing

With the film's official announcement at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, it was promoted by Feige, Shortland, and cast members who introduced footage from the first 30 days of production.[6]

Release

Black Widow is scheduled for release in the United States on May 1, 2020.[6]

References

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External links