Years before Scarlett Johannson had the teeniest, eeniest inkling she’d be slipping into a skintight outfit to play the Black Widow in Iron Man 2, Natasha Romanov was set to make her cinematic debut with a solo film. And it was to be directed by fellow Cold War-relic super spy Solid Snake, no less!
That’s right, David Hayter, the screenwriter of WATCHMEN, X-MEN and X2 was going to make a BLACK WIDOW movie around 2005. So what happened? Was there some sabotage? In a way, there was - - at the hands of stealthy, flexible, infinitely-cloned super-killer Aeon Flux. Like a spy coming in from the cold, Hayter finally set the record straight in the new book TALES FROM THE SCRIPT: 50 HOLLYWOOD SCREENWRITERS SHARE THEIR STORIES (and thanks to Latino Review for the heads up).
So says Hayter…
Yeesh… naming your daughter after a movie that never got made. That’s a rough punch line to this cinematic “missed connection.” I liked AEON FLUX when it came out in ’05. Yeah, it was loosely based on the cartoon, but I preferred the movie’s story. That whole infiltration of the Japanese garden and its floral traps was a memorable scene. It’s a shame that it didn’t perform that well in the box office, not only for its own sake, but also for the bad precedent it set for genre actioners with female leads.
I had a very solid relationship with Marvel, having worked on a number of films with them, and I was looking for something to write and direct. They brought up Black Widow, and I knew the character very well from the comic book. So I spent about a year working on the script, and I was extremely happy with it. Essentially, the story is a young Russian girl’s parents are killed, so she’s given to the KGB to be developed into a super spy. In her early teen years, the Soviet Union crumbles, so they decide to kill her. But at that point, she’s too tough to kill, so she escapes and makes her way to America. Then, years later, we catch up with her in present day. She’s a freelance mercenary, and she’s called back to where she was brought up to face her past. What I tried to do was use the backdrop of the splintered Soviet Empire – a lawless insane asylum with four hundred some odd nuclear missile silos. It was all about loose nukes, and I felt it was very timely and very cool. Unfortunately, as I was coming up on the final draft, a number of female vigilante movies came out. We had Tomb Raider and Kill Bill, which were the ones that worked, but then we had BloodRayne and Ultraviolet and Aeon Flux. Aeon Flux didn’t open well, and three days after it opened, the studio said, “We don’t think it’s time to do this movie.” I accepted their logic in terms of the saturation of the marketplace, but it was pretty painful. I had not only invested a lot of time in that movie, but I had also named my daughter, who was born in that time period Natasha – after the lead character in Black Widow. I named my daughter after a movie that I wasn’t working on anymore.
What do you think of this revelation, oh stealthy Comic Vine community? Would you have liked to have seen Hayter’s shot at Black Widow? Or is it better now that she’s been saved for IRON MAN 2 and Ms. Johansson?
-- Tom Pinchuk is the writer of UNIMAGINABLE for Arcana Comics and HYBRID BASTARDS! for Archaia Comics. Watch out for the HYBRID BASTARDS! hardcover collection this March - - available for pre-order now on Amazon.com.