She-Hulk Writer Pitched A Much Different Black Widow Movie To Marvel
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law creator Jessica Gao had an idea for a Black Widow movie first, and it's pretty wild.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is the latest Disney+ show to hit the streaming platform, and it is already receiving wide praise for its lightly comedic tone, female-oriented POV, and trademark fourth wall breaking. However, before creator Jessica Gao developed She-Hulk, she pitched a version of a solo Black Widow movie that never got made. As it turns out, it actually directly led to the Tatiana Maslany-starring show, but could not have been more different than the 2021 Scarlett Johansson movie that eventually resulted. For one thing, rather than dealing with the vast covert network of brainwashed female assassins known as Widows, it was mostly about a… high school reunion.
According to a recent interview with Jessica Gao and Tatiana Maslany at The Wrap, the She-Hulk creator initially pitched a Black Widow movie to Marvel Studios that involved Scarlett Johansson returning to an American high school she had once attended for a reunion, but with a twist. In this case, the She-Hulk head writer threw out the idea that a teenage Natasha Romanoff had been embedded in a high school in order to assassinate another student’s father, then had to deal with encountering all her former classmates years later. Apparently, She-Hulk was supposed to be a supporting character in this version of Black Widow; it is unclear whether this movie would have featured her as Jennifer Walters, human lawyer, or She-Hulk, superpowered attorney at law.
She-Hulk’s Jessica Gao specifically describes this pitch as being “basically a Grosse Pointe Blank story for Black Widow,” referring to the 1997 black comedy of the same name. In that movie, John Cusack plays a professional hitman who returns to his Michigan hometown for a target and ends up attending his ten-year high school reunion, reconnecting with old flame Minnie Driver, and running afoul of both a union-minded fellow assassin played by Dan Akroyd and a deadly martial artist played by legendary kickboxer Benny “The Jet” Urquidez. In many ways, it is the kind of story that could fit into one of the lighter Marvel Cinematic Universe Disney+ series. But if we got She-Hulk: Attorney at Law rather than Black Widow making awkward small talk in a gymnasium, that is probably a pretty good deal.
The Black Widow movie that we ended up getting starred Scarlett Johansson Natasha Romanoff and Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, primarily serving as an origin story for both and a smooth transition to Pugh as the new Widow. It also starred David Harbour as the Red Guardian, the narcissistic, but good-hearted Red Guadian (the Soviet analog to Captain America) and Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff, their deep cover parents in America. The movie was released in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic and went to streaming and theaters simultaneously. This eventually resulted in a lawsuit from Scarlett Johansson against Disney, which is probably not the most fun way to close out your Marvel career. Hopefully, She-Hulk might be able to find a way to work a little Black Widow cameo in there eventually.