During a recent sitdown and photoshoot with Vanity Fair, Scarlett Johansson seemed to hint at her eminent departure from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. According to Disney, the studio has ideas for 20 additional films beyond everything we’ve gotten over the past ten years. Said Kevin Feige, these ideas will be “intentionally” different. How different? Well for starters, staples of the franchise Chris Evans (Captain America), Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) are all set to leave the MCU at the conclusion of Marvel’s Phase 3 block of films. Sure, some may sign new contracts, but the likelihood of those characters remaining focal points within the MCU is doubtful at best.
To cover the loss, the studio will bring in a whole new cast of heroes to anchor the franchise. And, for those not ready for such a drastic change, they can rest somewhat assured by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 and Spider-Man 2 not being counted within those 20 film ideas. That exclusion suggests those films will move forward with their respective casts to maintain at least a few familiar faces.
As for Johansson, it would be a sizable loss for the studio to let her slip away before ever bringing the much anticipated, continually shelved stand alone Black Widow film -especially after the smashing success of Wonder Woman earlier this year. While fans may still hold out hope for Johansson to stay on, the actress herself doesn’t sound as hopeful about the situation. Said Johansson in the Vanity Fair feature:
I feel a lot of joy for the next generation. It’s a bittersweet feeling, but a positive one.
It would be a huge misstep on Marvel’s part to pass on a Black Widow solo film considering only her and Hawkeye have yet to receive their own films out of the original Avengers cast. What’s more, Johansson has played the character in 6 total films, making her the most featured member of the cast in the MCU, save for Robert Downey Jr.
Whether the studio plans to retire the character of Black Widow (or the others) or would simply recast the role is uncertain, but the latter would be a borderline travesty at this point.