How the director of Black Widow was influenced by a traditional from the Coen brothers – CNET

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

Marvel Studios

Superhero fans dived into the first Marvel Cinematic Universe Film in two years on the weekend as Black widow come to theaters and Disney Plus Premier Access. The film was supposed to be out in May 2020, but the pandemic forced Disney to postpone Natasha Romanoff’s long-awaited solo adventure several times.

Black Widow sends Avenger-on-the-run Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) on a spy-tinged search as she uncovered a conspiracy linked to her past after 2016 Captain America: Civil War.

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Black Widow director Cate Shortland’s previous films include the dramas Somersault and Lore as well as the 2017 thriller Berlin Syndrome. Black Widow is her first MCU project, and I stayed up late in London to talk to her about Zoom speak when she started her day in Australia.

We stayed away from spoilers, but we did touch on the impact of the pandemic on production, the collaborative aspects of Marvel Studios, and how a Coen brother classic affected Natasha’s first encounter with one of the movie’s villains.

Here is an edited transcript of our Zoom conversation.

Cate Shortland and David Harbor at SDCC 2019

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

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

I really liked the movie – I didn’t want it to end, which is the highest compliment. Has that even changed because of the delay? Or has it been in the can since 2020?
Shortland: It was in the can. It took longer to finish because we were in separate houses; We couldn’t be in the same room. And all the digital effects labs started to close because of COVID, so we distributed visual effects to different people. The whole process therefore took longer. But we’re done and haven’t touched it for a year.

How do you feel about releasing Disney Plus and Cinema at the same time as that wasn’t the original plan?
Ultimately, I want people to see it in a movie theater when they can safely do it. These films are designed to be enjoyed in a cinema with an audience – a community – with nice sound. That is the ultimate. But given the situation we are in, it’s great that some people can watch it at home on Disney Plus.


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

Marvel Studios

Which action movies influenced you the most when you made Black Widow?
The movie I saw most of the time was No Country for Old Men, even if it’s not an action movie. But it is so beautiful how the Coen brothers create tension in the silence and in the rhythm. That was really influential in the Taskmaster moment when he stopped on the bridge and walked towards her.

I also love [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 preproduction about working with choreographers and directors on the second unit – how to team up and make sure everyone is making the same film.

And then a few more South Korean things – we did montages of different action and fight sequences. Before I started, I edited 10 minutes of fights from the past 30 years that I enjoyed so we could talk to the choreographers about them.

What was really important to me was that Natasha felt human and fallible for dealing with these really formidable fighters. So you want to feel the blows. You don’t want to put on a cup of tea – this is an uphill life and death fight that you want to see.

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We get a glimpse into the classic James Bond in Black Widow. Why did you choose that?

It was from Scarlett. And Eric [Pearson], the author and Kevin Feige.

What’s your favorite movie in this franchise?
Skyfall. I think it’s an amazing piece of cinema.

Dreykov [Black Widow’s main villain] has an intense misogynist streak that I found repulsive and fascinating at the same time. Why is this working so well here?
I think because he’s pragmatic – he sees women as something he can buy and sell, he has no problem with that. Instead of getting caught up in the moral of it, he sees it as a business. You have people whose whole lives have been shredded by someone like that, then you put them in the room together and they are still intimidated by him. In a way, Natasha is still under his spell.

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What is it like to work with the Parliament of Marvel Studios? This group of names catches my eye again and again in the credits, it seems to be a group of executives.
Yes, it’s a really nice process – I don’t know if I can talk about it. But the studio is incredibly collaborative. So you don’t feel like you’re working with executives, but with filmmakers.

We got some nice plot points from people who have been involved in other films – Nate [Moore]Who produced Black Panther or people who produced other projects read the script and gave feedback [Black Widow producers] Brian Chapek, Brad Winderbaum and me.

And it’s not just 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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