Black Widow director says Coen brothers classic made an impact on Marvel movie


Black Widow sends Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova on a spy adventure.

Marvel studios

Superhero fans get ready to see the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film in two years this Friday, when Black Widow released in theaters and Premier Disney Plus Access. It was due out in May 2020, but the pandemic forced Disney to delay Natasha Romanoff’s long-awaited solo adventure many time.

He sends Avenger-on-the-run Natasha on a spy-tinged quest as she unravels a plot tied to her past, following on from 2016 Captain America: Civil War.

Black Widow was directed by Cate shortland, whose previous films include the dramas Perilous leap and Traditions, as well as the 2017 thriller Berlin Syndrome. Black Widow is her first MCU project, and I stayed up late in London telling her about Zoom as she started her day in Australia.

We avoided spoilers, but did bring up the impact of the pandemic on production, the collaborative aspects of Marvel Studios, and how a Coen Brothers classic influenced Natasha’s first encounter with one of the film’s villains. .

Here is an edited transcript of our Zoom conversation.

Cate Shortland and David Harbor at SDCC 2019

Cate Shortland and David Harbor discuss Black Widow at SDCC 2019.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

I really enjoyed the movie – didn’t want it to end, which I guess is the biggest compliment. Has it changed at all because of the delay? Or has he been in the box since 2020?
Shortland: He’s been in the box. It took longer to complete because we were in separate houses; we couldn’t be in the same room. And all the digital effects labs started shutting down due to COVID, so we mixed the visual effects with different people. The whole process took longer because of it. But we are done and we haven’t touched it for a year.

What do you think of the simultaneous release of Disney Plus and in theaters, since that was not the initial plan?
At the end of the day, I want people to watch it in a movie theater if it is safe to do so. These films are designed to be viewed in a theater with an audience – a community – with great sound. It’s the ultimate. But due to the situation we find ourselves in, it’s good that some people can watch it at home on Disney Plus.


The scene where Taskmaster first meets Natasha was influenced by No Country For Old Men.

Marvel studios

Which action movies influenced you the most when you directed Black Widow?
The movie I watched the most is There is no country for old people, even though it’s not an action movie. But it’s so beautiful how the Coen brothers create suspense in the stillness and rhythm of it. This had a big influence on the moment Taskmaster when he stopped on the bridge and walked towards her.

I also like [Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and Fallout director] Christopher McQuarrie’s work, and he was really generous. He spoke to me on the phone when I was in pre-production, working with choreographers and second unit directors – how to make a crew and make sure everyone makes the same movie.

And then some South Korean stuff – we edited different action and combat sequences. Before I started, I concocted 10 minutes of fights that I had loved for the past 30 years so that we could talk to the choreographers about it.

What was really important to me was that Natasha felt human and fallible, because she was up against these really formidable fighters. So you want to feel the knocks. You don’t want to put a cup of tea on it – it’s a bitter fight to the death that you want to watch.

We get a glimpse of the classic James Bond in Black Widow. What’s your favorite movie in this franchise?
Fall from the sky. I think it’s an amazing movie.

Dreykov [Black Widow’s main villain] has an intense misogynistic side that I found both repulsive and fascinating. Why does it work so well here?
I think because he is pragmatic – he sees women as something he can buy and sell, he has no problem with that. Rather than get drawn into its morality, he sees it as a business. You have people whose entire life has been destroyed by someone like that and then you put them in the room together and they’re still intimidated by him. In a way, Natasha is still under his spell.

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What’s it like to work with the Marvel Studios Parliament? That group of names always jumps out at me in the credits, it seems to be a group of executives.
Yeah, that’s a really beautiful process — I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about it. But the studio is incredibly collaborative. So you don’t feel like you’re working with executives, you feel like you’re working with filmmakers.

We got some beautiful plot points from people that were involved in other films — Nate [Moore], who produced Black Panther, or the people who were producing other projects would read the script and give feedback to [Black Widow producers] Brian Chapek, Brad Winderbaum and myself.

And it’s not just the producers. Someone’s 24-year-old assistant would read the script. It’s really egalitarian, it’s about “the best idea wins”.


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