Scarlett Johansson

Why Did Scarlett Johansson Leave Marvel?

Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff has always been a key MCU character, but the Black Widow star's time in the franchise has come to an end.


  •  Scarlett Johansson’s time in the MCU as Black Widow has come to an end, with her character’s official exit in the solo film “Black Widow” and the torch being passed on to Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova.
  •  Johansson’s evolving role in the MCU was thanks to the audience’s reception to the Black Widow character, leading to leading roles in Avengers films and other Marvel movies.
  •  Despite discussions about a possible return, Johansson has stated that her time in the MCU is over and that she is now in a different place in her life, making a return unlikely.


Playing one of the founding Avengers for over a decade, Scarlett Johansson’s time in the MCU as Black Widow recently came to an end. Johansson made her debut as Natasha Romanoff in Iron Man 2 and went on to play the role a bit past her character’s death in Avengers: Endgame. She made one last appearance in Black Widow, with the solo film being the character’s official exit from the current MCU timeline. The torch has since figuratively been passed on to Natasha’s sister, Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova, but there is no official replacement for Black Widow in the MCU as of yet.

Phase 4 saw several of the other founding Avengers leave the MCU, such as Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Chris Evans as Captain America. Both of these characters had a grand send-off, but Johansson’s more understated exit left a huge impact in her own right. Black Widow ended with Natasha freeing the Widows from Dreykov’s control and mending her relationship with sister Yelena. It is a fitting conclusion to the character’s complex arc, but it also seemingly doesn’t leave much room for Johansson’s return to the MCU as Natasha in the future.

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Scarlett Johansson’s Marvel Contract Was Done With Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff looks at the distance at the end of Black Widow.

When Johansson made her first appearance as Natasha in Iron Man 2, Marvel was still figuring out her role. According to an interview with Collider in 2015, her growing role was completely thanks to the audience’s reception to the Black Widow character. Her Iron Man 2 supporting role turned into leading roles in all of the Avengers films, as well as parts in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War that she wasn’t originally slated to star in but was included because of demand for her character.

On the TSC Podcast, Johansson credited the fact that she was one of the original MCU cast members for her evolving contract. She said that there was more room for negotiations in the early days of Marvel Studios, as the studio was still establishing itself, and it was a time before the studio “knew what they were doing.” Although it’s never been confirmed when Johansson’s contract with Marvel officially ended, Black Widow is widely accepted as her official exit. Considering how Johansson has talked about her time in the MCU being finished with Black Widow, it can be estimated that her contract ended with the film’s completion.

Scarlett Johansson Sued Disney Over Black Widow

Scarlet Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, Black Widow in Captain America Civil War

Though Black Widow was the MCU’s highly-anticipated Black Widow solo film, it was released amidst a sea of controversy. The film had its release date pushed back multiple times because of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. It was ultimately released in July 2021 to promote a premiere in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access simultaneously. Johansson ended up suing Disney because of this marketing tactic, claiming that Black Widow was promised an exclusive theater release.

Since part of an actor’s contract includes a percentage of the box office profits, Johansson’s Disney lawsuit claimed that the simultaneous release hurt Black Widow from hitting its maximum box office potential. Disney stood against the lawsuit, claiming that Johansson still earned additional compensation with Premier Access, which resulted in a legal battle between the two parties. The Hollywood Reporter revealed in September 2021 that the lawsuit was since settled with undisclosed terms. Though Johansson stated that her relationship with Disney still remains strong, it would be a logical time for her to take a break from Marvel and the company.

What Scarlett Johansson Has Said About A Possible MCU Return

Natasha Romanoff looking stunned in Avengers Endgame

Despite Natasha’s conclusion in the MCU timeline, that hasn’t stopped the character from being a fan favorite. She had always been a complex character, and her fighting to sacrifice herself for the Soul Stone in Avengers: Endgame cemented her immense character growth. The MCU has proven time and time again that dead characters don’t always stay dead, and Marvel even teased this by scheduling Black Widow after Endgame. This has opened up discussions about how Johansson’s Natasha could return in the future.

However, Johansson has stated that her time in the MCU has come to an end. On The Goop Podcast hosted by MCU co-star Gwenyth Paltrow, Johansson said that the “chapter is over. I kind of did all that I had to do.” Explaining that it’s been an honor to return as the beloved character time and time again over the past decade, Johansson is now in a different place in her life from when she first started in the MCU. Now married with a child and various new opportunities at her disposal, it seems like the right time to move on.

Will Scarlett Johansson Ever Return To The MCU?

Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff in Black Widow

Some may have assumed that Johansson’s lawsuit with Disney would be the end of her time in the MCU, but it’s more likely that Natasha’s arc in the MCU has just come to a natural conclusion. The Black Widow solo movie released after Natasha’s death in the MCU timeline was already pushing the line, and Johansson seems adamant that she has done the most that she could with this character. Though it’s not completely impossible to see Johansson return as Black Widow in a cameo or reused footage, especially with the Multiverse Saga, her return to the MCU doesn’t seem likely as of right now.

Ever since Black Widow’s introduction in Iron Man 2, Natasha Romanoff became a beloved MCU character who featured in various storylines thanks to audience demands for the character. Her arc came to a tragic yet fitting conclusion with her Endgame sacrifice and solo film, marking Scarlett Johansson’s official exit from the MCU. Though Johansson’s lawsuit with Disney has been settled, and the relationship is still on good terms, the Black Widow star seems set on taking a step back from the iconic character for the foreseeable future.

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