There was an idea.

A few years ago in Atlanta, Scarlett Johansson was having dinner with Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige and development director Brad Winderbaum. Johansson was pulling Avengers: Endgame, which featured the death of Natasha Romanoff, the hero she had played since the 2010s Iron man 2. Even so, a Black Widow standalone was something the team had wanted for a long time. The question now was how?

“Each of these movies starts from one conversation,” Winderbaum recalled of that dinner. “We were exchanging ideas on what it could be. And he just took off like a rocket.

Black Widow, making her debut on July 9, sees Natasha reunite with her adopted family for an adventure tied to their mysterious past. Johansson was executive producer on Black Widow, making her the first Avenger to hold that title in a Marvel movie.

“I think she did as much of the work in front of the camera as she did behind the camera,” Winderbaum said. Hollywood journalist at an event for Black Widow fans in Hollywood on June 29. “She was instrumental in supporting (director) Cate Shortland and supporting the production and really helped us make the story.”

Black Widow enters a world that Team Marvel couldn’t have imagined a few years ago. A global pandemic has swept the world and delayed Black Widowone-year release date, while pandemic pressures see the project hitting Disney + day and date. The film also arrives as Marvel juggles the two films and its new Disney + streaming series, giving MCU talent even more places they could appear. (Florence Pugh, who plays Natasha’s sister Yelena, is already known to appear in a Marvel streaming project.)

In the past, Marvel has made headlines for major contracts that saw Samuel L. Jackson sign for nine photos in 2009, or Chris Evans and others signed six photo pacts. But Feige says those types of deals aren’t the norm for Marvel these days.

“It got a lot of attention a long time ago, with I think Scarlett, and (Chris) Hemsworth and Evans and Sam Jackson. It varies now,” Feige said. THR when asked if the studio is signing talent deals for a specific number of streaming appearances and movies.

Feige noted that he would “throw theme park attractions” into the list of things the studio makes deals with the talents for.

“It varies, from project to project, from cast to cast,” Feige said. “Really, what we want are people who come in, are excited to be in the universe, are excited to be able to do more things, instead of being locked into contractual obligations.”

Pugh, David Harbor and Rachel Weisz are among Black WidowMarvel newcomers join Johansson in the MCU. The quartet has major chemistry, something director Shortland helped develop with pre-shoot rehearsals, including for a key family dinner seen.

“It was the first time they were all together, and it’s a great energy at this table,” recalls screenwriter Eric Pearson, who says the rehearsals influenced his writing. “I have to feed on it. They all say, “I want to do this, I want to do that. It was overwhelming. A little intimidating. “

Unlike the comics, Harbor’s Red Guardian – the Soviet Union’s response to Captain America – is a father figure, rather than a romantic interest, to Natasha.

“We had to complete the family, and that’s where Red Guardian came in as a father figure,” co-producer Brian Chapek. “David is hilarious. He’s got a great new twist on a new character in this world and hopefully we’ll see more of that at some point.

For Feige, Black Widow was a chance to show both Natasha, and even the previous Marvel movies, in a new light.

“I can’t wait for people to watch this movie and then Avengers 1, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and certainly (Avengers:) Infinity war and see how his actions are informed by his past being revealed, ”Feige said.

As for the future of Johansson’s MCU, the actor hasn’t said if she’ll be back for more. Perhaps the comics, in which anything is possible, can provide a clue.

“” Maybe there will be more later “- [is the answer] the comics have taught us, ”Feige said. “Everything could be the answer to that question. “

Black Widow is in theaters and on Disney + first access July 9.

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