Black Widow almost beat Iron Man to the big screen by four years

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Sep 29, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT (Updated)

Back before Marvel Studios launched its mission of world box-office domination with 2008’s Iron Man, the Avengers’ resident super-spy almost got her own movie a full four years earlier. 

That’s right, Black Widow almost beat Tony Stark to the big screen by a wide margin. A four-year-old interview with X-Men screenwriter David Hayter (also the voice of Metal Gear Solid’s Snake) has resurfaced thanks to The Mary Sue, with Hayter opening up about the Black Widow script he had in development during the early 2000s.

So why didn’t it happen? Believe it or not, blame that terrible Aeon Flux movie, which apparently spooked the studio on giving Black Widow the green light. But with Hayter writing the script, we’d have loved to see what he could’ve done with the origin story of the character. His work on X-Men was positively stellar, and if there was any early-2000s writer we’d trust with this, it’s him.

Here’s an excerpt from Hayter’s FemPop interview:

“What I tried to do was use the backdrop of the splintered Soviet Empire – a lawless insane asylum with four hundred some odd nuclear missile silos.  It was all about loose nukes, and I felt it was very timely and very cool. Unfortunately, as I was coming up on the final draft, a number of female vigilante movies came out. We had Tomb Raider and Kill Bill, which were the ones that worked, but then we had BloodRayne and Ultraviolet and Aeon Flux.

Aeon Flux didn’t open well, and three days after it opened, the studio said, ‘We don’t think it’s time to do this movie.’ I accepted their logic in terms of the saturation of the marketplace, but it was pretty painful. I had not only invested a lot of time in that movie, but I had also named my daughter, who was born in that time period Natasha – after the lead character in Black Widow. I named my daughter after a movie that I wasn’t working on anymore.”

According to a report from Gamma Squad, the period-set film would’ve followed Widow’s early training in Russia. Once the Soviet Union fell, she would have moved to America and trained with her mentor Ivan Petrovich (the Crimson Dynamo). The film would’ve also featured big twists, the CIA and double agents. Sigh. We kind of want to see this movie.

Hayter's pitch would’ve obviously come before Marvel ironed everything out into a uniform cinematic universe, and we have to say the fall of the Soviet Union could’ve been a fun backdrop for a spy superhero story. But considering Scarlett Johansson's age, it'd be a hard fit to tie that all together. You’d think Hayter might’ve brought a hard-boiled sensibility to it all, though, and we’d love to see how this could’ve panned out. 

Though Marvel doesn’t seem too keen on making a Black Widow movie anytime soon, it’d be interesting to see if the studio might dig this one off the shelf, or go with an all-new Marvel-verse script from the ground up if they eventually do the spinoff. What would you prefer?

(Via The Mary Sue, /Film)

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