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‘Black Widow’ Director List: Marvel Eyes Cate Shortland, Amma Asante for Scarlett Johansson Standalone Film

Marvel is reportedly adamant about finding a female filmmaker to bring Scarlett Johansson's kickass agent to the big screen in her own film.

Amma Asante, “Black Widow,” and Cate Shortland

Shutterstock/Marvel

Marvel’s long-anticipated “Black Widow” movie is inching closer to production with the reveal of the studio’s shortlist for potential directors. Deadline reports Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland is the frontrunner contender to direct the standalone movie, which will find Scarlett Johansson at the center of her own Marvel film. The report also has indie favorites Amma Asante and Maggie Betts high on the list of contenders.

The “Black Widow” standalone movie first made news at the start of 2018 with the news Jac Schaeffer had been hired to write the screenplay. Schaeffer is an up-and-coming talent who wrote the script for Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway’s female-centric spin on “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” Rumors circulated in late April that Marvel was looking at directors such as “The Rider’ helmer Chloe Zhao and “Mustang” filmmaker Deniz Gamze Ergüven to direct. The studio is reportedly adamant about landing a female director.

Shortland is best known for the films “Somersault,” “Lore,” and “Berlin Syndrome.” The latter, a psychological kidnapping thriller starring Theresa Palmer, played at Sundance 2017 and earned strong notices for Shortland’s direction. Asante is the British filmmaker behind indie favorites “Belle” and “A United Kingdom,” while Betts made her feature debut with last year’s acclaimed nun drama “Novitiate.”

While Marvel has not officially announced the “Black Widow” film, it’s clear development is coming together. Scarlett Johansson addressed the standalone film rumors on “Ellen” earlier this year by saying she is on board for a “Black Widow” movie as long it’s “groundbreaking” and “incredibly badass.” The character appeared in this summer’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and is said to have a more sizable role in next summer’s fourth “Avengers” film.

Whoever lands the “Black Widow” gig will become the first woman to individually direct a Marvel tentpole. Anna Boden is co-directing “Captain Marvel” with Ryan Fleck.

IndieWire has reached out to Disney for further comment.

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