In a ceremony held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel last night, Scarlett Johansson become the 35th actor to win the American Cinematheque Award, which is “presented annually to an extraordinary artist currently making a significant contribution to the art of the Moving Picture.” People who came to praise her and her work included her Marvel co-stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Sam Rockwell, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Sam Rockwell, and Jon Favreau, among others. But that wasn’t the big news of the night.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige was also there, and casually announced “We are already working on another non-Black Widow-related, top-secret Marvel Studios project with her as a producer.” This is weird, primarily because Johannson filed a lawsuit just this past July against Disney which alleged that the pivot to both theatrical and a streaming release on Disney+ streaming service violated Johansson’s contract with the company, which guaranteed that the film would get an exclusive theatrical release, which allegedly cost the actor to lose millions of dollars. That lawsuit was settled privately a mere two months ago, in September. The fact that Johansson is already working with Marvel Studios again is extremely noteworthy, especially because this must mean whatever she negotiated in her private arbitration with Disney was satisfying enough she bore the company no ill will (Johansson is also continuing to work with Disney beyond Marvel, starring in an upcoming movie adapting the Disney park ride Tower of Terror).
But the other noteworthy aspect is, if not Black Widow-related, what on Earth could this project be? Johansson has played the Avenger for over a decade, beginning in 2010’s Iron Man 2, followed by eight more Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that culminated with this year’s Black Widow. Admittedly, Feige only stated that she’s only going to be a producer rather than starring in the project, but she’s so entwined with Natasha Romanoff it still seems weird that the character wouldn’t be involved. Personally, I suspect that Feige might be being deliberately coy, and this could be a TV series or movie starring Black Widow’s Florence Pugh, who played Romanoff’s fellow assassin and de facto little sister Yelena Belova. That film ended with the mysterious Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) telling Yelena that Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) had murdered Natasha, prompting her to seek revenge. Since Pugh is going to appear in the upcoming Hawkeye series, that’ll probably be worked out there. But Yelena was such a break-out character in Black Widow I could very easily see her getting her own movie or show. If it’s called Yelena, and the character has dealt with her revenge issues, then Feige could technically say Black Widow isn’t involved… from a certain point of view.
But on its face, “non-Black Widow-related” certainly sounds like Johansson will be producing a movie or series about a new character or characters who will join the MCU.