Scarlett Johansson landed the iconic role of Black Widow and made her Marvel debut in 2010’s Iron Man 2. She has since reprised the role in 2012’s The Avengers, 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, and 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. She’s been Black Widow in five Marvel films already and she’s also set to appear as Black Widow in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. That’s a lot of Black Widow-ing. Between all the Black Widow-ing, ScarJo has also, somehow, found time to appear in other hits, like 2013’s Oscar-winner Her and 2014’s blockbuster hit Lucy.
Before joining the Marvel Universe, ScarJo’s biggest claim to fame was 2003’s Lost in Translation. She went on to become Woody Allen‘s latest muse, starring in Match Point, Scoop, and Vicky Christina Barcelona. She also worked with Christopher Nolan on The Prestige. But, being Natasha Romanoff has definitely been ScarJo’s biggest break, especially because Avengers: Infinity War is probably going to end up being one of the biggest movies ever. I mean, it’s basically guaranteed to make $1 billion, right?
While ScarJo embodies the mysterious, hardened, sexy, Russian assassin that is Black Widow, there are other Hollywood ladies who could have definitely taken a crack at the character. Now we ask the question, what if ScarJo wasn’t Black Widow? Below are 10 actresses who would have nailed the role of Black Widow and a bonus 5 actresses who were almost Black Widow. Just wait until you find out who Marvel first offered the role of Black Widow to. Spoiler: It wasn’t ScarJo!
15. Should Have: Eliza Dushku
Eliza Dushku as Marvel’s Black Widow. You totally see this one, right? Well, Eliza Dushku also totally saw it too. Girlfriend was down to be Black Widow, so much so that she publicly campaigned for the part. While there’s no actual confirmation that Dushku was even on the shortlist of actresses considered, Dushku was very vocal about wanting to be Black Widow. In an interview with Howard Stern, Dushku dropped this bomb, “They’re doing Iron Man 2, and I’m so perfect for the Black Widow character, that they just need to get into it. They need to understand… I just learned Russian because I had to play a Russian girl in Dollhouse.”
Real subtle, Eliza Dushku… Clearly, she wanted the role and we can understand why. She’s got that whole dark, bad-ass-with-a-past vibe to her. She would be believable as the former assassin turned one of the good guys, which is what makes the role of Black Widow difficult. Not many actresses can make you believe that they’ve killed people in their past, but Eliza Dushku totally can. In fact, every single time Dushku’s on the screen, it’s safe to assume that her character is a former assassin. That’s just the character she plays well.
14. Should Have: Mila Kunis
Does Mila Kunis come off too “cool girl” for this role? Maybe, but she does have quite a few things in her corner that make us think she’d be a killer Black Widow. First, there’s the fact that Mila Kunis is from the Ukraine, Soviet Union and Black Widow was first a Russian spy. There’s also the fact that Mila Kunis would look amazing in the Black Widow costume.
But, what about the fact that Mila Kunis has her the most success with her comedic roles in That ‘70s Show, Ted and Bad Moms? That’s true, however, she’s also found success with her darker roles, specifically her turn in 2010’s Black Swan, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. She’s also starred in action films like Max Payne, The Book of Eli, and Jupiter Ascending, so she’s clearly down for the challenge of action film stunts.
13. Almost Did: Angelina Jolie
Hearing that Angelina Jolie was considered for the role of Black Widow shouldn’t be all that surprising. In fact, Angelina Jolie is probably considered for every female action role… because she’s ANGELINA JOLIE. When you think Angelina, you think female action star. Plain and simple.
It was 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider that made Angelina Jolie one of the most sought after female action stars in the world. 2005’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith was yet another huge action movie that not only propelled Angelina Jolie’s action career, but also made her into a tabloid icon. (Brangelina, anyone?) She went on to star in Salt, Wanted, and The Tourist. If you want a believable action star, you hire Angelina Jolie.
Angelina is such a believable action star because not only is she one of the most beautiful women in the world, but she also has an edge to her beauty. She isn’t a delicate flower by any means. She’s the type of beautiful who may or may not kill you, but you’re also totally okay with that. For these reasons, we could totally see her as Black Widow but Marvel decided to go in a different direction. We can’t argue here, since it genuinely may have been too much star power. Angelina Jolie is a marquee name so throwing her into an ensemble cast may not have actually worked out for everyone involved. In a film about a group of superheroes, it’s best not to have a single one steal the movie.
12. Should Have: Jessica Chastain
Being that Iron Man 2 came out in 2010, we can all assume casting was underway sometime in 2008 and 2009, or perhaps even sometime earlier. That being said, we get that Jessica Chastain wasn’t really “a thing” yet but she would have been a phenomenal Black Widow. I mean, she’s pretty much already Black Widow. She has the hair, the body, and the acting ability. Seriously, a Jessica Chastain Black Widow would have bene perfection. (Sorry, ScarJo.)
It wasn’t until 2011, with the release of The Help and The Tree of Life, that Jessica Chastain became a hot name in Hollywood. Then 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty propelled her into super stardom, earning her a second Oscar nomination in the process. Jessica Chastain has proven that she’s also able to star in blockbuster hits with 2014’s Interstellar and 2015’s The Martian. Chastain had a delightfully dark turn in 2015’s Crimson Peak. She’s pretty much the perfect mix of action, beauty, and ability to portray the complex and dark character of Black Widow.
11. Almost Did: Jessica Biel
Jessica Biel is another actress who was on the shortlist for the role of Black Widow. Surprised? Well, let us not forget that Biel was a seriously hot Hollywood item in the late 2000s. Coming into fame with her role on 7th Heaven, the show ended in 2006 with her reprising her role of Mary Camden in the final episode. This officially freed Biel up to take on more film roles, which would hopefully result in her becoming a big, big movie star, right? Biel pretty much went on to appear in 2007’s I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry and that was it. Okay, I’m exaggerating. Jessica Biel has appeared in several films, but none achieved the critical or box office success needed to make her a movie star.
Jessica Biel’s star has since faded, not that we don’t still love her. After marrying Justin Timberlake in 2012, the couple also had a child. While Biel makes red carpet appearances with Justin Timberlake, it seems that her career has taken a backseat to her husband’s career and to motherhood. Could being cast as Black Widow have changed the trajectory of Jessica Biel’s career? Would Justin Timberlake have then stepped out of the spotlight to support her? That is a world that we’ll never know.
10. Should Have: Emily VanCamp
Emily VanCamp is already part of the Marvel Universe, as she played Sharon Carter in Captain America: Winter Solider and Captain America: Civil War, but we think that she could have been considered for the bigger, flashier role of Black Widow.
While Emily VanCamp’s success has been mostly on television, it is her television roles that make us think she could have been Black Widow, or more specifically her role on ABC’s Revenge. The show, unfortunately, fell into the realm of soap opera drama in the latter seasons (as many ABC shows tend to do). However, Emily VanCamp’s character and performance were never to blame. Emily VanCamp played Emily Thorne, a woman who wanted to avenge the death of her father. She played a dark character and was able to play up emotional complexity and nail her action sequences. Basically, it was a mini-Black Widow role.
9. Should Have: Sophia Bush
Since Emily VanCamp’s success has majorly been on television, we thought we’d throw another TV star out there – Sophia Bush. We know it’s an odd choice, but hear us out. Bush found early success by starring in One Tree Hill from 2003 – 2012. Yes, One Tree Hill was on television for nine friggin’ years. I know what you’re thinking – why would an actress from One Tree Hill land the role of Black Widow? Well, Sophia Bush has proven to be a viable actress beyond the teen soap operas, starring in John Tucker Must Die, The Hitcher, and now Chicago P.D. On Chicago P.D., Bush flexes her action muscles and bad-ass vibes. Also, Sophia Bush may be one of the only women in Hollywood with a raspier, sexier voice than ScarJo. Plus, she’d look really good in the suit.
Honorable Mention: Alexandra Breckenridge is an even lesser known TV star, who could surely have rocked the role of Black Widow. With roles in American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and now This is Us, Breckenridge had proven that she’s able to handle even the most challenging roles. Also, she was a super hot as the red headed maid in AHS so she’d obviously be able to pull off the whole Black Widow look.
8. Should Have: Anne Hathaway
Anne Hathaway became known playing good girl roles in The Princess Diaries, Ella Enchanted, Becoming Jane, and The Devil Wears Prada, but her film credits show that she’s much more than just the good girl character. In Brokeback Mountain, she played the conflicted wife of Jake Gyllenhaal and did a full frontal nude scene while she was at it. In Rachel Getting Married, Hathaway starred as a former drug addict with a troubled past, a role that scored her her first Oscar nom. Oh, and if you want to know if she can fill out the Black Widow costume, just check her out in The Dark Knight Rises. Meow. Considering her talent, range of characters, and beauty, it’s actually mind-boggling that Anne Hathaway wasn’t even on the shortlist for the role of Black Widow, but hey, that just meant that Christopher Nolan was able to scoop her up.
Honorable Mention: Amy Adams. She’s a redhead and a great actress. This seems like a no-brainer. Of course, it’s too late since she’s now DC’s Lois Lane, but we had to mention her.
7. Almost Did: Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba was reportedly on the shortlist for the role of Black Widow. This one kind of makes sense, but it also a head-scratcher in other respects. First of all, we just don’t know how Jessica Alba would look with red hair. I mean, she’s one of the most gorgeous women on the planet. That’s a basic fact. But, with red hair? Some people (me) think it wouldn’t look right on her. She’s not a natural redhead and she’s not even someone who could remotely be considered a natural redhead.
Beyond the hair factor – which I admit shouldn’t matter that much – Jessica Alba was most likely considered because of her previous roles. On Dark Angel, the television show that was Alba’s big break, she played a Black Widow-esque character. She also played Invisible Woman in Fantastic Four. The fact that Jessica Alba already played a role in a superhero movie could have bonus points for her, but it’s also considered one of the worst superhero movies, so there’s that.
6. Should Have: Evan Rachel Wood
The fact that Evan Rachel Wood wasn’t even considered for the role of Black Widow is confusing. She would have killed the role of Black Widow and she already looks the part. She’s a redhead, y’all! How was Evan Rachel Wood not even on the list but Jessica Alba was? I know I need to get over the hair thing, but still.
Evan Rachel Wood came into prominence in 2003 with Thirteen. From there, she starred in 2007’s musical Across the Universe, 2008’s critically acclaimed The Wrestler, and the 2009 Woody Allen film Whatever Works. She also appeared on True Blood, as a 500 year old vampire queen. Long story short, Evan Rachel Wood can play a variety of characters. She also constantly brings a certain dark sensitivity to her characters that would have served Black Widow well.
5. Should Have: Charlize Theron
Could you even imagine Charlize Theron as Black Widow? If you’re one of the people who thinks Charlize Theron is simply one of the most stunning women in the world, you’re probably sold on the idea of her as Black Widow. And, if you don’t think she’s one of the most stunning people in the world, what’s wrong with you?
Charlize Theron certainly has the acting chops for the role, and she even has an Oscar to prove it. Also, Theron can get down with the darker side as seen in her role in Snow White and the Huntsman. Oh, and have you seen Mad Max: Fury Road? Girlfriend is a movie star! While Atomic Blonde won’t be released until July 28, 2017, the trailer for that movie also makes a good argument as to why Charlize Theron would have made a killer Black Widow.
4. Should Have: Rachel McAdams
Rachel McAdams is already part of the Marvel Universe but she only has a very minor role, which is a real waste of her talent. McAdams appeared as Christine Palmer in 2016’s Doctor Strange, which was nothing more than a love interest role. McAdams, though, is more than capable of handling something more than a love interest role. She’s capable of handling a role as meaty as Black Widow.
In 2004, Rachel McAdams blew up with the success of both The Notebook and Mean Girls. So, by the time they were casting the role of Black Widow for 2010’s Iron Man 2, Rachel McAdams had proven she was star time and time again with Wedding Crashers, The Family Stone, and The Time Traveler’s Wife. Of course, Marvel executives may not have been able to see past her romantic roles. In fact, it seems much of Hollywood couldn’t see past McAdams’ romantic roles. It wasn’t even until 2015’s True Detective season 2 that Rachel McAdams was able to score a real action role.
3. Almost Did: Natalie Portman
Yep, it’s been reported that ol’ Natalie Portman was actually on the shortlist for actresses to play Black Widow. Of course, Natalie Portman isn’t as curvy as ScarJo. In fact, Natalie Portman has that WASP-thin look. Natalie Portman is basically a walking flower. Still, she would have been a great choice for Black Widow, even if she looks a bit too pretty and a bit too fragile for the role.
Natalie Portman got her start in 1994’s Leon: The Professional, in which she played a baby assassin so she’s had some experience playing an assassin-esque character. Her stripper role in Closer showed that she could play the darker, more mysterious parts of Black Widow as well. In 2008, Natalie Portman actually starred alongside Scarlett Johansson in The Other Boleyn Girl, in which the actresses played sisters competing for the same king. They were, as it turns out, also competing for the same role of Black Widow. In the end, Marvel went with ScarJo and later cast Natalie Portman in Thor. Portman appeared in two Thor films, but it’s been reported that she hasn’t enjoyed being tied to a franchise. That said, she’s probably glad to have lost out on the part of Black Widow.
2. Should Have: Michelle Trachtenberg
Michelle Trachtenberg has the whole Black Widow look down – dark and oozing sex appeal. Trachtenberg came to prominence by playing Dawn Summers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She was Buffy’s younger, naive little sister. The role of Dawn Summer may not have been very Black Widow-y, but Trachtenberg’s role on Gossip Girl sure was. Michelle Trachtenberg played a character named Georgina Sparks, who spoke in a hushed, devious voice. She even had a plot that involved being sent to Russia. So, basically Black Widow. Trachtenberg’s career has since slowed, but she could have made a great and surprising Black Widow.
Honorable Mention(s): Claire Danes has been an in-demand actress for years now but has yet to have a superhero role. She successfully plays complicated, strong female roles, making her a perfect Black Widow. We could also get down with an Olivia Wilde Black Widow. Just sayin’.
1. Almost Did: Emily Blunt
Here’s how close Emily Blunt was to being Black Widow – she was straight up offered the role. Like, Marvel wanted Emily Blunt to be Black Widow. See ya later, ScarJo. It was all Emily Blunt as Black Widow.
Unfortunately, Emily Blunt had to turn down the role. Blunt was under contract with Fox and set to star in Gulliver’s Travels. The Iron Man 2 and Gulliver’s Travels production scheduled conflicted with one another and Emily Blunt had to choose Gulliver’s Travels because of her Fox contract. If you can’t remember Gulliver’s Travels, that’s because the Jack Black vehicle was not critically praised, but it did manage to pull in $237.4 million in the box office. That’s, of course, nothing compared to the $623.9 million Iron Man 2 made.
Being Black Widow would have been a huge break for Emily Blunt, whose previous credits included The Devil Wears Prada and Sunshine Cleaning. It’s hard to feel too bad for Emily Blunt though, because her career has been on fire even without being Black Widow. She appeared in 2012’s Looper, 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow, 2015’s Sicario, and 2016’s The Girl on the Train. Had she taken the role of Black Widow, she may not have been able to star in these critically acclaimed films.
In the end, of course, Scarlett Johansson landed the role of Black Widow and she will forever be our Black Widow, but it is always fun to think “what if.”