David Hayter knows how to write a comic-book movie. With titles such as X-Men, X-Men 2 and Watchmen on his screenwriting resume, when this guy brings you a script, you pay attention. Back in 2004, it seems that Hayter was all set to make Black Widow the foundation of Marvel Studio’s future success – a full four years before Iron Man blasted onto our screens – but that project was killed off by the sexism of Hollywood. We know this, because an interview he gave to FemPop in 2011 has resurfaced, thanks to the intensified calls for a female-led superhero movie.
So, it seems that Hayter wrote what sounds like a very cool Black Widow origin story, which he described in his own words:
“We would have seen her early training in Russia. Once the Soviet Union fell, she would have moved to America, but her Russian mentor, Ivan Petrovich (aka The Crimson Dynamo) would have tracked her down, forcing a final showdown. The CIA, double agents and all sorts of other fun would also have been involved.”
That sounds awesome. Now, pay close attention to David Hayter’s explanation as to what happened to it:
“What I tried to do was use the backdrop of the splintered Soviet Empire – a lawless insane asylum with 400 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, 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 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 I wasn’t working on anymore.”
“Logic”? “Saturation of the marketplace”? Yes, that’s right, world – you can’t have more than five female-led movies at any one time – just in case the menstrual cycles of women all over the world synchronize and we suffer a global chocolate shortage. If only someone would apply the same ‘market saturation logic’ to male-led movies – then perhaps The Transporter would have driven off into the sunset, never to return, and The Expendables would have been disposed of.