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Phase 4 of the MCU is less than a year away from kicking off with the release of Cate Shortland's standalone Black Widow movie early next May. It'll also be the first Marvel Studios feature to center around a hero who doesn't make use of a super-suit, super-serum, gamma rays, or alien abilities. Natasha Romanoff (played by Scarlett Johansson, who made her MCU debut in Iron Man 2) is an ordinary human being whose body just happens to be a sharply honed weapon of living death. It's for this reason that the project's co-writer, Jac Schaeffer (Captain Marvel), was so excited to tackle the iconic character, who will lead the studio's second female-centric film.
"The fighting [in Black Widow] is a lot of close contact, hand-to-hand combat,” Schaeffer, who co-penned the script with Ned Benson, recently told Inverse. “It’s very visceral. There’s a lot of aggression and power in a very human way that I find really satisfying and really exciting to watch, but it’s the polar opposite to writing for super-powered characters ... I choose to be a part of projects that are about positive representation. We need to see women, we need to see people of color, we need to see nuanced experiences, and we need to see different perspectives on screen. I choose to work with people who are interested in changing perspectives for the better, and putting a world on screen that is something we can aspire to and have conversations about, and moving in a direction that will create a world I hope will be better for my children."
Natasha won't be the only "non-powered" character getting their time in the spotlight. Jeremy Renner is all signed up to appear in a live-action Hawkeye series for Disney+, where Clint Barton will train his arrow-shooting replacement, Kate Bishop.
Fresh off the success of Carol Danvers' big-screen debut earlier this year, Schaeffer was named showrunner of the live-action WandaVision series coming to Disney+. She will also serve as a writer and executive producer on the show, which (as revealed at SDCC 2019) will lead directly into 2021's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Even with so many exciting things on her plate, Jac still has time to reflect on the importance of Captain Marvel's approach to action and bodily harm in the genre of comic book films.
"I would like to see alternatives to violence in superhero movies,” added the screenwriter during her chat with Inverse. “Maybe I would qualify that by saying, alternatives to glamorizing guns and weaponry. That’s one of the reasons that I love Captain Marvel — it’s all about inner power. And the destruction is not at the expense of human life ... My kids are really obsessed with ‘good guys vs. bad guys.' Sometimes, I explain [to them], ‘Every good guy can be a bad guy’ and vice versa. It’s complicated, but that’s sort of lost on them. That’s one thing that I think can be explored more in the future — I would hope that there are ever-increasing moves toward the gray and toward complexity.”
Black Widow hits theaters everywhere May 1, 2020. The feature co-stars Rachel Weisz, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, and O.T. Fagbenle.