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She-Hulk creator pitched a Black Widow high school reunion movie that Marvel rejected

Published Aug 28th, 2022 9:12PM EDT
Image: Marvel Studios

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Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) finally got a standalone Marvel movie in Phase 4, which is a great family/spy story for Natasha. But the film isn’t perfect and came at the worst time possible. So if you feel like Marvel still owes you a Black Widow, you might not be the only one.

While we already know what happens in Black Widow and how it fits on the greater MCU timeline, there must have been plenty of pitches for this particular Avenger. It turns out that even She-Hulk creator Jessica Gao pitched a Black Widow movie script to Marvel. But one that Kevin Feige & Co. rejected. Mind you, some spoilers might follow below.

Black Widow should have been the very first MCU adventure of Phase 4. But then the pandemic happened, and WandaVision opened the Multiverse Saga.

Black Widow was still the first Phase 4 film. But it got a day-and-date release, with Marvel making it available online and in theaters on the same day. Unfortunately, this led to a legal battle between Johansson and Disney, with the giant corporation delivering a rather brutal overall response.

The MCU’s only Black Widow movie

Regardless of this PR disaster, the movie itself wasn’t exactly a home run.

Worse, going into Black Widow, you know this is a prequel story for a character who died in the MCU. Whatever it sets up, it’ll take time to materialize. For example, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) is the best thing coming out of Black Widow for the future of the MCU.

Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) in a Black Widow trailer scene. Image source: Marvel Studios

Similarly, Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko) is an exciting addition to the roster of MCU villains/antiheroes, even though the movie underutilized the character.

Also, Black Widow didn’t really give us the Nat-Clint friendship origin story that we’ve been dying to see since the first Avengers movie.

Marvel can certainly bring back any of the dead Avengers, and we’ve already explained how easy it is.

But there’s no indication that we’ll ever see Nat in MCU movies again. That’s another unfortunate development for Black Widow. Comparatively, we have many rumors detailing the return of a different dead character, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). Similarly, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) might return, although the former Cap isn’t dead.

The high school reunion pitch

With all that in mind, Black Widow could have been a lot better. For the MCU, the character, and the actress. But that doesn’t necessarily make Gao’s pitch better than what we got. The She-Hulk creator told The Wrap that she failed a few times with her MCU pitches before landing the She-Hulk job.

Black Widow, Captain Marvel, and Shang-Chi are MCU titles that Gao pitched to Marvel’s top echelons. The writer detailed in brief the gist of her Black Widow movie idea. It would have been a high school reunion kind of story:

It was basically a Grosse Pointe Blank story for Black Widow.

Basically you find out that in high school, as a teenage spy/Russian agent, she was planted at an American high school, because she had to assassinate someone’s dad and then 20 years later, she goes back to the high school reunion and has to deal with the fallout of this fake identity where she betrayed all these people in high school.

It’s unclear why Marvel shot down the idea, and Gao did not reveal more plot details from her movie pitch as she might use elements of the story for a future project. Still, we can’t but wonder what would compel Nat to go to a high school reunion. Particularly at a time when a part of the world isn’t happy with her actions.

More Marvel coverage: For more MCU news, visit our Marvel guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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