Scarlett Johansson 'Hands the Baton' to Florence Pugh in Black Widow, Says Director
Florence Pugh is set to embark on a new female storyline in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Black Widow, teases director Cate Shortland
Black Widow director Cate Shortland revealed the upcoming standalone movie, which was pushed back from its original May release date due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will introduce Pugh's Yelena and set her character up for more storylines. The movie is now set to hit theaters on Nov. 6.
“[Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige] realized that the audience would expect an origin story so, of course, we went in the opposite direction,” Shortland recently told Empire of her film. “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.’ So it’s going to propel another female storyline.”
The long-awaited standalone film comes after Johansson's Natasha Romanoff died in Avengers: Endgame, sacrificing herself so the superheroes could get the last Infinity Stone they needed to defeat Thanos. Shortland sees her movie as a way to grieve for the fan-favorite character.
“In Endgame, the fans were upset that Natasha did not have a funeral. Whereas Scarlett, when I spoke to her about it, said Natasha wouldn’t have wanted a funeral,” Shortland explained. “She’s too private, and anyway, people don’t really know who she is. So what we did in this film was allow the ending to be the grief the individuals felt, rather than a big public outpouring. I think that’s a fitting ending for her.”
“I think we’ve made something very raw and very painful and very beautiful and I think people are going to be really surprised by the outcome of a big action film having that much heart,” she told Beanie Feldstein, who starred in Booksmart last year.
“And I know lots of people will be emotional about her because her character had such a hard ending [in Endgame], but it was special learning from her, and she’s been doing this for like 10 years in those films,” Pugh added of Johansson. “For this to be her film was special. And I got to be there and see how she does stunts and lives it, and it’s so her.”
Last year, Johansson, 35, said similar things about the upcoming movie, which she said was “was more than I ever could have hoped for.”
“The film deals with real, complicated stuff,” she told USA Today, calling Black Widow “a character that has a lot of shame. And maybe in some weird, roundabout way, maybe some of the feelings I had going into this were actually some of her unprocessed feelings that I got to work through while making this film.”
“She’s a woman whose narrative has been created for her in a lot of ways and the path that has been laid before her is not one that she’s necessarily paved herself,” she continued. “I have felt that way at times in my life and in my career. I think every woman has struggled with what is expected of them,” she says.