'Black Widow' writer confirms there was a Robert Downey Jr. cameo in earlier script
But did Natasha Romanoff really need help from the boys?
After more than a decade of saving the world with the Avengers and a very long delay thanks to COVID, Black Widow has finally descended upon theaters (and on Disney+ with premiere access). The film not only gave the audience a chance to see Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff in action again, but also finally shed some light on the mysterious and ledger-filled past of the beloved superspy.
Given that the movie was set after the events of Captain America: Civil War and well before the character's death in Avengers: Endgame, fans were excited about the possibility of a cameo from other Avengers — namely, Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark. While that didn't end up happening, writer Eric Pearson confirmed that cameo was originally planned for an earlier iteration of the film.
"I do remember now that one version of the script, prior to me, literally had written into it the end moment of Civil War with Tony and Natasha," Pearson told Comicbook.com's Phase Zero podcast, referring to the scene after the big airport battle when Tony tells Natasha, "I'm not the one who needs to watch their back."
Pearson went on to explain that since the footage wouldn't have offered anything new, the team ultimately thought it wasn't worth including. "That's the only time I saw Tony Stark's name in it, and it was just kind of a flag-planted reminder — like, 'Hey, we're right at the end of Civil War,'" he said.
Instead of a Tony Stark cameo, Black Widow chose to remind audiences of its place in the MCU in another way: by showing William Hurt's Thaddeus Ross coming after Natasha for violating the Sokovia Accords.
"Initially, there was discussions about everything, about all of the different characters," said Shortland. "What we decided was, and I think Kevin was really great, he said, 'She doesn't need the boys.' We didn't want it to feel like she needs the support. We want her to stand alone. And she does."
While dropping some familiar faces into Black Widow would've been rewarding fan service, in the end, the choice not to have any Avengers — even Natasha's Strike Team: Delta partner Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) — in the film turned out to be the right one. After years spent waiting in the wings, Natasha Romanoff didn't need an assist from the guys. It was time for her to prove her mettle on her own.