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Although it’s been years in the making, the time has finally come, as Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow has finally scored her own solo film. The film has proven to be both a critical and financial success so far, making for a fitting opening weekend for the veteran Avenger. The character has evolved since stepping into the Marvel Cinematic Universe over a decade ago, and that unfortunately came with some occasional growing pains. At least, this certainly seems to have been the case based on a Natasha Romanoff-centric idea that was planned for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which Johansson says was “quickly killed.”
2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of the most acclaimed installments in the MCU, with some even arguing that it's Marvel Studios’ best film. Scarlett Johansson’s performance as Natasha Romanoff is easily one of the highlights and, ultimately, the film was the first to truly allow viewers to know the character on an intimate level. As Johansson recently explained, Marvel Studios was still experimenting with Romanoff’s characterization at the time, and this led to a costume pitch that just didn’t land:
In some says I look at it as a costume she was wearing — at the time, Marvel was interested in the character being a shape-shifter. When we were doing Captain America: The Winter Soldier — this is a really funny thing — the look is fantastic and utilitarian. She first drives up in this beautiful car and picks up Cap, and initially in the script, it was like, she arrives in her tennis whites, with a blonde wig. It was very quickly killed.
The idea of Natasha Romanoff, a cunning spy, being a chameleon does sound on brand for her, but this particular idea admittedly sounds out of place. This is especially true when you consider that the scene she’s referring to involved the casual first meeting between Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is available to stream on Disney+, which you can sign up for using this link.
Of course, this specific idea might not have been scrapped had Scarlett Johansson chosen not to speak up about it. In the same interview with Fatherly, the actress spoke about the “process” of trying to make Black Widow a character who accurately represents the culture we live in:
You work with a lot of male writers. Things were shifting. You have to be a part of the change. Audiences are also demanding stuff and there’s a cultural shift and it feeds everything into a more progressive direction. It’s been a process, it’s been a process.
While doing press for Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson has been quite candid about how her fan-favorite character has been handled over the years. She specifically shared some honest comments on Natasha’s debut in Iron Man 2, which she says was very sexualized.
Thankfully, things have turned around for the character in a number of ways, which ultimately brings us to the version of Nat that we see in Black Widow. There’s still progress to be made in the MCU and across the film landscape as a whole but, hopefully, characters like Natasha Romanoff will help creatives become more thoughtful in how they depict female leads.