Black Widow (2021) was likely Scarlett Johansson’s final turn as superspy Avenger Natasha Romanoff, making the poorly-received Marvel Cinematic Universe movie much more disappointing. There’s a good reason for that: according to one of her co-stars, Marvel Studios kept changing the third act of the film even during production.
Black Widow was heavily promoted by Marvel as its first female-led movie, as well as the introduction of the exciting new characters Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and Red Guardian (David Harbour). Unfortunately, the movie was scheduled for release during the COVID-19 pandemic and was released simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ streaming, blunting its box office and sparking a landmark lawsuit from Scarlett Johansson.
However, according to David Harbour, the problems went deeper than that.
Marvel Interference with ‘Black Widow’
In a recent interview with the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Stranger Things star David Harbour revealed that Marvel Studios kept changing the ending of the movie even as it was in active production, a studio move not usually associated with success.
Although David Harbour presented it as a positive thing, saying, “I think they did want the opportunity to change some stuff. The interesting thing about Marvel that’s so great about them is they do rework stuff. Even big productions. Like Black Widow, the entire third act was reworked as we were shooting, which is incredible. And so, they just want that freedom,” it is not hard to read between the lines.
Marvel has frequently been accused of essentially backseat-driving movies despite the wishes of directors, with President Kevin Feige often viewed as the creative center of the MCU rather than the filmmakers he hires.
In the case of Natasha Romanoff’s presumed last fight in the MCU, that seems to have meant trying to work out a movie on the fly, to disappointing ends.
‘Black Widow:’ The 22nd Best Marvel Movie
Currently, Black Widow has a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, putting it in the bottom third of all Marvel movies alongside Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and Iron Man 2 (2010).
In large part, the low ranking of Natasha Romanoff’s starring vehicle was due to critics pointing out the confusing, CGI-heavy finale; considering that the movie was basically being remade on the spot, we should probably consider ourselves lucky we got any movie at all.
The Future of Yelena Belova
While the Marvel Multiverse allows for literally any dead character (or just anyone at all) to come back at any time, all reports indicate that Scarlett Johansson is likely finished with the franchise.
That leaves Florence Pugh to take up the Black Widow torch, as she did in the Disney+ series Hawkeye. Pugh and David Harbour will both appear in the upcoming Thunderbolts movie, making it, if not a sequel, at least a little bit of a family reunion.
For all our sakes, hopefully, Marvel Studios can be a little more hands-off this time.