In 2004, before Marvel Studios began producing its own movies, Lionsgate announced development of a Black Widow movie, featuring the Soviet spy turned superhero. However, like the Iron Fist project trumpeted at the same time, plans for Black Widow fell apart. By 2006 the rights had reverted to Marvel, which four years later incorporated the character into Iron Man 2, in which she was portrayed by Scarlett Johansson.
But what would the Black Widow solo movie have been like, and why did Lionsgate abandon its plans for the character? Let David Hayter, who was set to write and direct the adaptation, explain.
“What I tried to do was use the backdrop of the splintered Soviet Empire – a lawless insane asylum with 400-some odd nuclear missile silos. It was all about loose nukes, and I felt it was very timely and very cool,” Hayter, who penned X-Men and X2, tells FemPop. “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.”
While the stars didn’t align for Lionsgate and Hayter, they did for Marvel, which of course used Iron Man 2 as a launching pad for Black Widow, who will next appear in May in the Joss Whedon-directed Avengers. There are periodic rumblings about a Black Widow spinoff so, who knows, maybe Hayter will get another shot at the character … eventually.