Black Widow: What to Know About the Highly Anticipated Marvel Movie

Black Widow director Cate Shortland didn't want to make a dark movie; she wanted 'to make a fairground ride'

Contributed by
Jul 9, 2021, 6:55 PM EDT

Throughout the Marvel films, Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, has hinted at her dark past and violent history. So, with her standalone film at long last revealing her backstory as well as dealing with child trafficking, one could reasonably assume that Black Widow would be a very, very bleak film.

But that’s not the film that director Cate Shortland made. In fact, she very specifically set out to make a film that would uplift viewers. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Shortland explained that she wanted to subvert the expectations that this would be a grim film. Instead, this would be, in her words, “a fairground ride.” (Hey, this isn’t the DC Extended Universe.)

“I think the expectation was that we would make a dark film, and I didn’t want to do that,” Shortland said. “When I spoke to Marvel, I said, ‘I want to make a fairground ride, but I want it to have a lot of heart.’” She added that with the Scarlett Johansson-led film, she “wanted people to be uplifted and feel love and empathy for each other.” 

L to R: Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), director Cate Shortland, Yelena (Florence Pugh) and Alexei (David Harbour) Credit: Jay Maidment ©Marvel Studios 2020

According to Shortland, it’s through Black Widow that viewers will get to see how Natasha learns to forgive herself for her past sins, and rebuild herself to being “a whole person again,” which is what ultimately “allows her to sacrifice herself in Endgame.”

Shortland also admitted that she needed Johansson (who’s also executive producer on the film) to convince her to come onboard as director, noting “she became my greatest cheer squad.” The director then went on to say that being on the set of a Marvel film was far more intimate and relaxed than she had expected, and that “it kind of felt like an arthouse film on set.”

Taking place after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Black Widow introduces viewers to Natasha's found family of fellow spies, which includes Alexei (David Harbour), aka the Red Guardian (think Captain America, but for Russia), and former assassins/"widows" Melina (Rachel Weisz) and Yelena (Florence Pugh).

Black Widow hits theaters and streams on Disney+ Premium beginning today, July 9.