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A Black Widow movie is closer than it’s ever been

But that’s not saying a lot

black widow Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios has named a screenwriter for a potential Black Widow movie, reports Variety. Jac Schaeffer will provide the script for a solo film about the Russian spy-turned-Avenger, played by Scarlett Johansson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

By appointing a screenwriter and talking with execs and Johansson, Marvel Entertainment isn’t particularly close to green-lighting a Black Widow movie, but it’s still the closest it’s ever been.

“Marvel President Kevin Feige met with several candidates before tapping Schaeffer,” according to Variety’s sources, “and Marvel execs met with Johansson to discuss what they wanted from a [Black Widow] writer.”

Schaeffer has few credits under her belt, but came to broader attention through her Black List script, “The Shower.” It caught the eye of actress Anne Hathaway, who hired Schaeffer to write Nasty Women, Hathaway’s upcoming Dirty Rotten Scoundrels remake.

Fans have been steadily pushing for a Black Widow movie since the character’s MCU debut in 2010’s Iron Man 2, both because of the character’s almost unique place in the franchise as its most prominent female superhero and Scarlett Johansson’s star power. The studio’s history of open-ended comments, and brief windows into its process has only whetted interest in a possible Widow movie.

Screenwriter Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel) has confirmed that she wrote a treatment for Black Widow around Iron Man 2’s release, but it was never developed. In 2013, when asked whether the Marvel Cinematic Universe would produce a solo film for a female superhero soon, president Kevin Feige said that Marvel was not currently planning to, but it was possible. He then pivoted to talk about the franchise’s existing heroic female characters — all of whom were playing secondary roles in a male hero’s feature, and none of whom even had superpowers.

This response is typical in tone for Marvel Studios’ responses to questions about a Black Widow movie: say that it’s possibleor even a priority — but not that it’s been green-lit, and emphasize the attention that female heroes have already gotten in the franchise, even though the first solo film for a Marvel superheroine won’t hit theaters until 2019.

In 2014, Variety reported that Marvel Studios had a Black Widow film in development, but that the company put a hold on it in October of that year to focus on the recently announced Captain Marvel. The studio also wound up putting Captain Marvel on hold a year later, when, following the success of Ant-Man, Marvel pushed the movie’s release back from July 6, 2018 to March 8, 2019 to make room for an Ant-Man sequel.

To date, Captain Marvel is still the only solo film for a superheroine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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