Talking to Empire Magazine for its Big-Screen Preview issue, on sale Thursday 8 July, the filmmaker explained how Scarlett Johansson had passed the torch to the Midsommar star during the film’s production.
“[Kevin Feige] realised that the audience would expect an origin story so, of course, we went in the opposite direction,” Shortland says. “And we didn’t know how great Florence Pugh would be. We knew she would be great, but we didn’t know how great.
Read more: Films still coming to cinemas in 2020
Scarlett is so gracious, like, ‘Oh, I’m handing her the baton.’ So it’s going to propel another female storyline.”
Set in the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War but before the events of Avengers: Infinity War/Endgame, Black Widow will see Scarlett Johansson playing Natasha Romanoff for – presumably – the last time, following her demise on Vormir. As one of the founding members of the Avengers, Black Widow was one of the only female superheroes in the MCU until recently, and her presence in future films would have been sorely missed.
However it now sounds like Pugh will assume the mantle of Black Widow in Marvel Studios’ Phase 4, if not literally, then at least figuratively speaking. Pugh’s character Yelena Belova was introduced in the comics in 1999 as a rival for the Black Widow mantle, and was the lead character in the 2002 comic run Black Widow: Pale Little Spider.
The film, coming to UK cinemas on 28 October, will see Romanoff confronting her past and reuniting with former allies including Yelena Bolova, Rachel Weisz’s Melina Vostokoff and David Harbour’s Alexei Shostakov AKA Red Guardian. Watch a trailer below.