Much like coronavirus reopenings, the Marvel Cinematic Universe operates in phases marking various chapters for the studio’s ever-expanding roster of superheroes.
When “Black Widow” finally hits theaters in November after a delayed release, director Cate Shortland has confirmed that Johansson will be handing the baton over to co-star Florence Pugh, who plays fellow assassin Yelena Belova, to “propel another female storyline” in future films.
“[Kevin Feige] realized that the audience would expect an origin story so, of course, we went in the opposite direction,” Shortland told Empire magazine in a recent interview. “And we didn’t know how great Florence Pugh would be. We knew she would be great but we didn’t know how great. Scarlett is so gracious, like, ‘Oh, I’m handing her the baton.’”
Johansson’s character, of course, met her end in “Avengers: Endgame,” leaving an open spot on the superhero team that fans have long suspected Pugh might fill.
The prequel film finds Johansson’s titular character confronting the demons of her past, as she reunites with Belova, who was also trained in the top-secret Black Widow program, which brainwashes young women and turns them into cold-blooded killers.
And while “Black Widow” will seemingly pave the way for Pugh’s super future, Shortland teased that it will also provide closure for fans who felt shortchanged by Romanoff’s abrupt death.
“What we did in this film was allow the ending to be the grief the individuals felt, rather than a big public outpouring,” she said, noting a public funeral wouldn’t fit with Romanoff’s ultra-private persona. “I think that’s a fitting ending for her.”
“Black Widow,” which is currently scheduled to hit theaters on November 6, is meant to kick off MCU’s long-awaited Phase 4, which includes highly anticipated films like “The Eternals,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and “Thor: Love and Thunder.”