Why Marvel Refuses To Release Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow

Fans of Scarlett Johansson and Black Widow finally have their answer about its release and where you'll be able to see the film in May.

By Doug Norrie | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

Black Widow Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson has had a movie sitting in limbo for almost a year now. While other productions have found, one way or another, ways to get on to some kind of screen, hers just remains shut in behind closed doors. It’s an odd situation considering how the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to roll on with other stories, moving in different directions. But it might be part of this movement that’s keeping Black Widow out of the public eye and away from fans. And don’t expect the film to come to the small screen anytime soon. It appears Marvel wants to keep the big theater release part of its game plan moving forward.

This news about Scarlett Johansson and Black Widow came from Kevin Feige over the weekend when he was discussing other things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Marvel chief and head honcho was pretty definitive about what their plan was when it came to the big-budget movies. Unlike his competitors at Warner Bros with HBO Max, Marvel and Disney+ have no plans to do simultaneous releases in both theaters and on streaming platforms. This just goes to confirm and reaffirm our scoop from a few weeks ago about Marvel films. Here’s Feige’s thought process around this and how they came to the decision around movie releases:

“It’s impossible (not to be, when you) go to opening night to 23 movies, in packed movie houses, and seeing the moviegoers’ reaction. That’s what drives us creatively as we make all of these, certainly culminating in ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and ‘Far From Home.’ There’s nothing better than that, and we don’t want to lose it. I’m hoping we don’t have to. If there is nowhere else to put those movies, that’s another conversation, but I’m encouraged by the theaters holding on. Also, what’s happening overseas in countries where (the pandemic) is more under control. Guess what? It’s human nature to want to get together and have an experience. That’s continuing in very big ways in countries where they are able.”

Scarlett Johansson Black Widow

This is obviously terrible news for Scarlett Johansson fans waiting to see Black Widow hit the screen. Though one can see Feige’s point here. In the end, he discusses the theater experience as being the motivating factor. But there’s also the dollar signs aspect as well. Sure, it’s nice to get together and see movies on the big screen. It’s also great to collect the ticket money at the door. 

The Scarlett Johansson film was originally slated to hit the screen all the way back in May of last year. But that was essentially at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic and when theaters were completely shuttered in the United States and other countries as well. That meant the film was put on an altered timeline with no clear plans on release. 

But then, over the fall and early winter, the movie landscape began to change when HBO Max and Warner Bros decided to release Wonder Woman 1984 simultaneously on the streaming platform and movie theaters. That led to a new world order when it came to major films, with many making the assumption that basically all studios who also controlled a streaming service would follow suit. There was rampant speculation this would be the case with this Scarlett Johansson vehicle. 

Black Widow Scarlett Johansson

It won’t be the case though. Marvel appears committed to maintaining strictly a theater presence for now around its bigger films, working to keep something of the sanctity of the big screen. Part of the reason Marvel might not have felt compelled to keep a sped-up timeline around this particular Scarlett Johansson film is that Black Widow is an offshoot film about the character and doesn’t directly work into Marvel’s Phase Four of shows and movies. It technically takes place in the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War. That has left the studio a little more wiggle room when it comes to its release. 

Currently, Black Widow and Scarlett Johansson are slated to hit screens in May of this year. And you’ll need to buy a ticket to see it. Because Feige and company are keeping that the case moving forward.