From her breakout role as Charlotte in director Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation to her reprisal of Ash in Sing 2, Scarlett Johansson has been the talk of Hollywood for over two decades. In her career, few roles stand out more than Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With nine appearances across the MCU, Johansson’s career as a change-maker in Hollywood is beginning to take off in big ways; whatever she does next is sure to be magnificent.
Update July 16, 2023: It has been over two years since the release of Black Widow, so this article has been updated with additional information.
Johansson isn’t one to shy away from speaking her mind. After her many appearances as Black Widow, only one appearance was in a single stand-alone film, which resulted in a very public lawsuit. After several months, Johansson and Disney settled the lawsuit, and the actress was seen returning to the set happily. But she has also been very vocal about never returning on screen again as the beloved character of Natasha Romanoff. While she may not return to the screen as Black Widow for Marvel Studios, she will be returning as a producer in an unnamed MCU project, according to Variety. Here’s what we know.
No Plans on Returning as Black Widow
In an interview with Fatherly, Johansson revealed: “I have no plans to return as Natasha. I feel really satisfied with this film. It feels like a great way to go out for this chapter of my Marvel identity. I would love to be able to continue to collaborate with Marvel in other ways because I think there’s just an incredible wealth of stories there. Re-imagining this genre is something that I find very interesting. I think there’s a lot of opportunities to tell these stories in different ways than audiences have come to expect.”
Johansson even appeared on an episode of The Goop Podcast hosted by Gwenyth Paltrow, who played the role of Pepper Potts in several MCU movies. There, the actress let the fans know that even though she had a lot of fun playing the character of Romanoff, she was done with the role for good. The pair of actresses even talked about the possibility of Gwenyth returning for her role in the MCU as her character did not die in Endgame.
The two co-stars also talked about when they first met each other and about the launch of Johansson’s new skincare line called “The Outset.” In the podcast, which came out in April 2023, the actress also talked about her experience while acting as Natasha Romanoff in the Avengers movies. But she was also resolute about the fact that she was never going to return as Black Widow on screen, even though she spent almost a decade playing the role and enjoyed every bit of it.
Wearing Different Entertainment Hats
For Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Johansson wasn’t just the lead actress, she also helped write some of her own dialogue, as Digital Spy reports. Many individuals in the entertainment industry vacillate between acting, producing, directing, and writing, trying to find their big break. In Johansson’s case, writing and acting are just the beginning of her entertainer credit collection. After her lawsuit settled with Disney, the actress was announced as a producer for an upcoming Marvel project.
A producer can be many things on a film’s crew, and after seeing what Johansson was able to do for Black Widow, her future with the MCU should be exciting. In her new role as producer, Johansson has the power to be part of the cultural shift affecting Hollywood. More women are directing, producing, and writing films and TV than before, giving more depth to women characters and the stories surrounding them. The MCU has brilliantly, though only recently, put three-dimensional women at the forefront; to think any of the actresses behind these roles weren’t also in the writer’s room would be ignorant.
Possible MCU Projects
Marvel likes to keep their projects under wraps as much as possible, even when actors take on different roles behind the camera. As the studio has the next 10 years of film and TV shows planned, their lips are sealed with Johansson’s involvement, and the guessing games begin. Johansson is confirmed to be producing a Marvel Studios project, but it is unknown exactly which one it will be. The two most obvious answers are Captain America: Brave New World or Thunderbolts, given the films, have connections to her Black Widow character. Yet her name has not been attached to them.
It is also possible it could be for an entirely new project that the MCU has not announced or based on characters that have not been introduced. Marvel could be developing A-Force, an all-female superhero team project, and Johansson could be a producer on that. After giving longtime Marvel collaborator Michael Giacchino the chance to direct Werewolf by Night, Marvel could also give Johnasson a directing gig for a Marvel Special Presentation Feature.
During the promotion of her recent movie Asteroid City by Wes Anderson, Johansson said that there is a possibility of her working on a future MCU project soon, which is exciting news for the fans. But due to both the Writers and Actors Strike, no production will be moving forward for the foreseeable future.
Black Widow’s Future
As the Multiverse Saga grows, there is always a chance for Johansson to return as Black Widow as a possible alternate timeline version of herself. While reprising her role as Black Widow, even in an alternate universe as we saw of the character in the What If…? series, would be quite interesting, the story of Natasha Romanoff is complete. After Black Widow met her end in Avengers: Endgame, several questions about her past were answered in Black Widow. As much as fans may want Johansson to reprise her role as the beloved original Avenger, other stories are waiting to be told.
At the end of Black Widow, Natasha set the remaining Black Widows on their journey to freedom. Some Widows, namely Yelena, set out on a mission to undo the brainwashing they all endured, effectively establishing Florence Pugh as the MCU’s new Black Widow. The legacy has been carried over as Pugh reprised her role in Hawkeye and will also be one of the leads in the upcoming film Thunderbolts. Thunderbolts will also see the return of David Harbour as Red Guardian and Olga Kurylenko as Taskmaster, effectively making it a Black Widow-type sequel. While Natasha Romanoff might be gone, Black Widow’s legacy lives on.