Hey! Hey you! Have you heard the news? Marvel is officially moving ahead with developing a standalone Black Widow movie! But before you bust out your light-up batons in excitement, I should point out that all they’ve done so far is hire a writer to pen a script. Whether that script or any other version of a Black Widow film is ever greenlit, only time will tell. For now, let’s focus on the positive: That Marvel has hired an exciting new writer to work on the project… and that she’s a she.
Jac Schaeffer is a director, producer, and screenwriter who penned the sci-fi comedy The Shower, a 2014 Black List pick that caught the eye of Anne Hathaway, who attached herself to star in and produce the film. Hathaway then brought Schaeffer on to write another film she’s starring in: a female-centric take on Dirty Rotten Scoundrels called Nasty Women. So Schaeffer has some exciting projects already lined up, in addition to this potential Marvel gig.
And even if Schaeffer does write a script that Marvel likes, it’s hard to tell when or how it will fit into their line-up — though presumably it would be a part of Marvel’s Phase Four plans, which constitute… well, basically anything that comes out after Avengers 4 in 2019. Marvel will have already released Captain Marvel starring Brie Larson by then, so Black Widow wouldn’t be the first standalone MCU film about a female hero. But since Natasha Romanoff, played by Scarlett Johansson, first appeared in 2010’s Iron Man 2, fans have wanted to see more of the longtime Avenger. And so have the Overlords.
So we gathered around the ol’ Slack water cooler this morning and talked about what we hope for from a Black Widow film. Or more precisely: What we hope DOESN’T happen. Here are our thoughts:
1.) Don’t make the entire thing about how she can’t make babies, please.
Though Widow hasn’t been the lead in any MCU films yet, they’ve actually done well by her character in a lot of ways (more on that shortly). But THAT SHIT from Age of Ultron wasn’t just offensive — it was a betrayal of everything that Natasha is, in the comics AND in the MCU. And I get that it was a way for her to commiserate with Banner, who DOES long for a normal life… but I didn’t buy for a second that Widow thinks of herself as a monster because she can’t have kids. Maybe because of actual crimes she committed in the past, but not fucking THAT. So let’s not perpetuate the problem any further. In fact, if there’s a way to UNDO that detail, we’d welcome it.
2.) Can we maybe just not with a love interest all together?
Save it for the sequel. And no, we’re not saying that she can’t have sex or be intimate or even be emotional. She can have a one-night stand like any other average woman! But Widow has a full life already, and it would be nice to explore that side of her without foisting a romance onto her shoulders right off the bat. And that goes for any unnecessary pining after a certain big green angry fellow too.
3.) And for that matter, don’t give her a random lesbian scene just because you think dudes will like it more.
But what if it’s Valkyrie?
OK, no. Not even if it’s Valkyrie.
Maybe a little bit if it’s Valkyrie.
I’M SORRY, NOT EVEN IF IT’S VALKYRIE.
4.) Related: Don’t assume the villain must be male because too many womenz means men won’t go.
(Please see Wonder Woman’s ROI.)
5.) In fact, don’t make Black Widow the only significant female character in the Black Widow movie.
Think about it. Thor wasn’t the only significant male OR Asgardian character in the Thor movies. Steve wasn’t the only significant male OR veteran in the Captain America films. And it’s already apparent that T’Challa will not be the only significant Wakandan in Black Panther. Why make Natasha the lone woman, unless this is going to be like Spy Cast Away with her alone with a fucking volley ball for 90 minutes. And even then, make the ball a lady-ball.
6.) Avenger cameos are ok. But under absolutely no circumstances is Hawkeye allowed to save the day.
Or anyone else, for that matter. But especially fuckin’ Hawkeye. Unless you wanna introduce Kate Bishop…
7.) Don’t make it an origin story.
Natasha’s already been in enough MCU movies. We’ve heard some of her backstory, too. The time for the deep dive into her past has, well, passed. Give her a real goddamn adventure.
8.) A Black Widow film is a great excuse for an interesting genre entry. As long as that genre isn’t “rom-com.”
Hard boiled feminist spy noir or gtfo.
9.) Please never mention Black Widow’s diet.
10.) Hire a real hair stylist who works with athletes or other active women.
Natasha’s hairstyle has been an ever-changing thing in the movies. And that’s… fine. But it doesn’t mean her ‘do can’t be practical.
11a.) It is OK for Black Widow to run. In fact, we encourage it! But Black Widow is not to run in slow motion.
11b.) Do not treat Black Widows tits like weapons that need special close-ups.
They are boobs. Women have them. Let them just exist. And yes, to a certain extent Widow DOES weaponize her sexuality as a spy. And that’s fine! She can be sexy! It’s ScarJo — she can’t NOT be sexy. But don’t make that all she is. Don’t make it creepy. What we’re trying to say, with both these points, is: Get a female director to handle it. Or just John Wick this fucker and let her be a total badass in a very nice, well-cut suit. Sexy isn’t always about visible skin. Or, you know, slo-mo bouncing sex organs.
12.) Do not put alleged creep Stan Lee in for a fucking cameo.
I know, it’s kind of Marvel’s whole thing. But unless these accusations get sorted out, maybe give him a rest.
13.) And above all else: Don’t lose sight of Widow’s established motivations!
Sure, people have been clamoring for a Black Widow film, in part because she was the first true female superhero in the MCU. But it’s also because she’s a complex and fascinating character in her own right. She is no one’s sidekick (in the comics she even dumped Daredevil for treating her as such), and in the movies she’s arguably the most experienced member of the Avengers. Remember that “I’ve got red on my ledger, I’d like to wipe it out” line? That might be Joss Whedon’s greatest contribution to the MCU, because it established Natasha’s motivations so clearly and yet so simply. No, we don’t need to know everything about her past. All we need to know is that everything she’s doing NOW is to balance her own karma. She’s following her own moral compass. Working with S.H.I.E.L.D. allowed her to be the person she wanted to be. And when that got a little too HYDRA-ey, she sided with Rogers instead. She’s not a company man, and she’s not a bland do-gooder. She’s driven — not for a normal life, and not to change the past, but to do enough good that it helps atone for her mistakes. Or at least enough to help her sleep at night.
That right there? That makes for a pretty interesting character of any gender. That’s the Black Widow we want to see on screen. Complex, and kicking ass.