Marvel is finally heeding its fans’ calls for a stand-alone Black Widow movie: The studio has reportedly agreed to give franchise veteran Scarlett Johansson $15 million to portray the character in a solo feature.
Set to be directed by directed by Lore filmmaker Cate Shortland, Black Widow is expected to take place before the events of Avengers: Infinity War, although nothing is official at this point.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Johansson’s hefty salary — which is uncommon for the stars of a solo series’ first installment — is on par with what fellow Marvel franchise actors Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth earned for playing Captain America and Thor, respectively, in both Infinity War and their most recent solo features (Captain America: Civil War and Thor: Ragnarok). However, Johansson has played Black Widow in six movies at this point, dating back to her 2010 introduction as the character in Iron Man 2.
For the sake of comparison, Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman was reportedly paid $2 million to star in that character’s first solo feature, while Brie Larson is said to have earned $5 million to star in the upcoming Captain Marvel movie — which also required her to sign a seven-movie deal with Marvel.
Marvel hired a screenwriter for Black Widow in January, which was the first indication that the film was moving forward at the studio.
Jac Schaeffer penned the most recent script, according to Variety. Her credits that include her debut film Timer and The Shower, a script that earned a spot on Hollywood’s Black List of popular scripts circulating around the industry. Schaeffer also wrote the script for the upcoming comedy Nasty Women, a female-led remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels starring Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, and Alex Sharp.
Marvel Cinematic Universe heavy hitters have long acknowledged the interest in a Black Widow movie. In September 2010, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige told Superhero Hype that they had discussed it with Johansson and “begun putting together concepts” for a stand-alone movie. He also discussed the idea during a May 2016 interview with Deadline in which he highlighted that they had “a lot to do” before having key discussions about projects beyond the 10 movies that were already announced through the end of 2019.
Feige did, however, say that Black Widow was one of the characters they were “creatively and emotionally … most committed to doing.”
Johansson has said in the past that she would be willing to reprise her superhero role in a stand-alone film, but she has also cautioned that it may never happen.
“The character is right for a stand-alone,” she told Total Film magazine (via GamesRadar+) in February 2017, “it’s just a case of timing at this point for both Marvel and myself.”
Updated on October 11, 2018: Added confirmation of Scarlett Johansson’s deal to star in the film.