(LOS ANGELES) — Scarlett Johansson is hanging up her Black Widow batons and passing them on to Florence Pugh — at least that what the director Cate Shortland told Empire magazine on Monday. 

In the standalone Black Widow film, Oscar nominated Little Women star Pugh plays Yelena — a “sister” of sorts for Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff; the pair both survived a brutal assassin training academy for young women, and later re-team to try to destroy the program.

“We didn’t know how great Florence Pugh would be,” says Shortland, Marvel Studios first solo female film director. “We knew she would be great, but we didn’t know how great.”

She adds, “Scarlett is so gracious, like, ‘Oh, I’m handing her the baton.’ So it’s going to propel another female storyline.”

Black Widow was originally scheduled to be released in May but was postponed due to COVID-19 and has been rescheduled to hit theaters on November 6. Set after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Marvel film will delve into Natasha’s past and the events that occurred before she become an Avenger. 

Shortland added that the upcoming installation will give fans a chance to come to terms with how Avengers: Endgame said goodbye to the beloved character. 

“In Endgame, the fans were upset that Natasha did not have a funeral. Whereas Scarlett, when I spoke to her about it, said Natasha wouldn’t have wanted a funeral,” she explained. “She’s too private, and anyway, people don’t really know who she is. So what we did in this film was allow the ending to be the grief the individuals felt, rather than a big public outpouring. I think that’s a fitting ending for her.”

Marvel Studios is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC News.

By Danielle Long and Stephen Iervolino
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