Marvel's long-awaited Black Widow movie has finally found its director

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Jul 12, 2018, 5:44 PM EDT

After a massive search and years of fan anticipation, Marvel Studios' Black Widow solo film finally has a director.

Cate Shortland, the Australian filmmaker best known for the post-World War II drama Lore, will helm the feature starring Scarlett Johansson as Nathasha Romanoff, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Shortland's name was mentioned as part of a shortlist of directors last month, and Johansson was apparently particularly impressed with her work.

Shortland's hiring caps off months of searching that saw Marvel reportedly meet with as many as 75 different filmmakers for the project. Last month that search managed to narrow things down to a key group of frontrunners who included Shortland, Amma Asante (Belle), Maggie Betts (Novitiate), Melanie Laurent (Galveston), and Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don't Cry). With Johansson reportedly in her corner, Shortland won out, which means she will likely be the first woman ever to be the solo director of an MCU film (next year's Captain Marvel is co-directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, and Patty Jenkins was set to helm Thor: The Dark World before departing over creative differences). 

Black Widow's latest draft was scripted by Jac Schaeffer (The Hustle), and will focus on Romanoff's past, before the events of the first Avengers film. Her time as a Russian agent has been heavily alluded to throughout the MCU, particularly in the first and second Avengers installments, and her solo film will likely explore that in much greater depth as we get to see how she became the mighty hero she is now. Johansson will next be seen as the character in the still officially untitled fourth Avengers film next spring. 

Black Widow does not yet have an official release date.