CATE SHORTLAND BRINGS ARTHOUSE EXPERIENCE TO
BLACK WIDOW WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE COME OUT MAY 1, 2020. More than a year later, it will finally be arriving in theatres — whatever that means for Canadians — as well as via Disney+’s Premier Access.
Ahead of its actual release on July 9, 2021, Exclaim! spoke with the director Cate Shortland about bringing her arthouse sensibilities to the MCU and collaborating closely with star Scarlett Johansson.
How did you get involved in the production?
I was in Australia working as a writer-director and my agent called me and said, “Marvel Studios would like to talk to you about this film.” And I didn’t really understand why, because I’m an arthouse director. I’ve done, you know, a lot of stuff in German, and it’s quite different. Then I spoke to Scarlett, and it made sense because they wanted to make something about [Black Widow’s] journey. They kept talking to me about heart and emotion.
I think I was afraid. So for a while, I just said, “Oh, no, I don’t think I can do it.” It wasn’t out of me being cynical; it was just fear that I couldn’t do the job. And then I overcame that. I’m so happy that I did. Scarlett was such a beautiful collaborator and really championed my vision through the whole process.
What led to you overcoming that fear?
I think it was talking to Scarlett. We would email each other our top 20 songs that we love, or top 20 films, and we talked about the character and the trauma that she’d had and how she’s a real survivor. That made me think there’s something in this film that I would love to explore. And I would love to do it with humour and pathos and to make really spectacular, beautiful action sequences.
So did you feel a weight of responsibility with the character?
I wanted it to be a kickass movie. I wanted Scarlett to be able to watch it and think, “God, look at me, I’m great.” And [I wanted] people to enjoy it. I think the expectation was that we would make something really dark, and I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to make something that touches on the trauma but is really uplifting.