Lucrecia Martel Turned Down ‘Black Widow’ After Marvel Told Her ‘Don’t Worry About’ Action Scenes

"Companies are interested in female filmmakers but they still think action scenes are for male directors," said the "Zama" director.
Lucrecia Martel and Scarlett Johansson
Lucrecia Martel and Scarlett Johansson

The thought of Argentinian filmmaker Lucrecia Martel directing a Marvel movie may sound unusual (her challenging style is a far cry from the MCU), but she was included on the studio’s shortlist of filmmakers to helm the Black Widow standalone movie, starring Scarlett Johansson. Martel recently told India’s English-language newspaper The Daily Pioneer (via The Playlist) that her interest in the Marvel film didn’t go beyond her first meeting with the studio.

“I received an e-mail from Marvel for a meeting,” Martel said. “So I went to the [Marvel 10th Anniversary] reunion. I actually signed this thing where I can’t talk about that reunion. Marvel and other such production houses are trying to involve more female filmmakers…What they told me in the meeting was ‘we need a female director because we need someone who is mostly concerned with the development of Scarlett Johansson’s character.'”

Martel continued, “They also told me, ‘Don’t worry about the action scenes, we will take care of that.’ I was thinking, well I would love to meet Scarlett Johansson but also I would love to make the action sequences.”

With Marvel seemingly not interested in Martel’s approach to Black Widow’s action scenes, the director decided to pass on the gig. Marvel announced in July it officially hired “Berlin Syndrome,” “Lore,” and “Somersault” filmmaker Cate Shortland to direct the movie. Shortland will be the the MCU’s first solo female filmmaker, as Anna Boden is the co-director of this March’s “Captain Marvel” with Ryan Fleck.

“Companies are interested in female filmmakers but they still think action scenes are for male directors,” Martel said. “The first thing I asked them was maybe if they could change the special effects because there’s so many laser lights. I find them horrible. Also the soundtrack of Marvel films is quite horrendous. Maybe we disagree on this but it’s really hard to watch a Marvel film. It’s painful to the ears to watch Marvel films.”

Martel appears to have sensed a level of sexism in Marvel’s offer, although it should be noted the studio is known to give stunt coordinators and VFX specialists a lot of responsibility when it comes to capturing action scene coverage. Marvel has been able to lure high profile directors without much action filmmaking experience (Taika Waititi, Ryan Coogler, Kenneth Branagh, Scott Derickson, etc.) for this reason.

Martel most recently directed the acclaimed historical drama “Zama,” which Film Comment magazine just named its best movie of 2018. Shortland will kick off production with Johansson on the Black Widow movie in 2019, which means a possible 2020 release. Marvel has not set an official date. The Black Widow character is set to appear in April’s “Avengers: Endgame.”

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