“Black Widow” writer Jac Schaeffer first burst on the scene with 2009’s charming, indie sci-fi rom-com “TiMER,” which she wrote and directed, but she’s now ready to take on the big leagues with her latest Marvel script. Directed by Cate Shortland (“Lore,” “Berlin Syndrome”), the film stars Scarlett Johansson as the titular S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and savvy KGB assassin. “Black Widow” releases May 1, 2020.
“I wasn’t a huge superhero movie fan before starting to work [at Marvel], but now that I’m doing it, there’s just so much opportunity to make big, positive statements,” Schaeffer told Inverse. “Especially something like Captain Marvel and Black Widow, to have these female-centered stories — I just can’t not be involved in that.”
Schaeffer also addressed the internet trolls that slammed this year’s “Captain Marvel,” directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, in anticipation of the backlash that might await her as a female screenwriter of a woman-led Marvel film. (Schaeffer reportedly worked on the “Captain Marvel” script, but is not a credited writer on that film.) “When people react with hate, it saddens me. I think it’s a shame,” Schaeffer said. “But that’s not where I want to put my energy. I’m not interested in the loud, sour-grapes voices.”
No stranger to the MCU, Schaeffer is also the writer and showrunner of “WandaVision,” the upcoming Disney+ series with Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen set to star. Schaeffer teased “Black Widow,” which takes place shortly after the events of 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” to say that Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff is “very much on her own and over the events of the ‘Black Widow’ movie; she has to reckon with some of the red in her ledger.”
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Footage from the film wowed audiences at this year’s Comic-Con panel. “The fighting [in ‘Black Widow’] is a lot of close contact, hand-to-hand combat,” Schaeffer said. “It’s very visceral. There’s a lot of aggression and power in a very human way that I find really satisfying and really exciting to watch, but it’s the polar opposite to writing for super-powered characters.”
Schaeffer does, however, have alternative hopes for the Marvel movies. “I would like to see alternatives to violence in superhero movies,” she said. “Maybe I would qualify that by saying, alternatives to glamorizing guns and weaponry. That’s one of the reasons that I love ‘Captain Marvel’ — it’s all about inner power. And the destruction is not at the expense of human life.”
In spirit of the recent sea changes among those at the helm of superhero movies, she added that more representation was needed. “We need to see women, we need to see people of color, we need to see nuanced experiences, and we need to see different perspectives on screen,” she said. “I choose to work with people who are interested in changing perspectives for the better, and putting a world on screen that is something we can aspire to and have conversations about, and moving in a direction that will create a world I hope will be better for my children.”