Over the past few years, fans have seen a number of veteran departures from Marvel Studios' costumed universe. This has resulted in the torch being passed to the next generation of heroes, with the likes of Florence Pugh taking on the weight of the franchise.
Pugh is set to assume the Black Widow mantle from Johansson, as she goes on to potentially lead a superhero team of her own.
Marvel Studios sees a lot of the Natasha Romanoff actress in Pugh, and have made that known. In the lead-up to Yelena Belova's MCU debut, Black Widow, director Cate Shortland revealed she picked Pugh for the role because "[she] knew that Scarlett would have someone on screen with her that could match her energy."
Florence Pugh Without Her MCU Mentor
Speaking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast with Josh Horowitz, Thunderbolts and Black Widow star Florence Pugh opened up about what it has been like moving forward in the MCU without her MCU mentor Scarlett Johansson.
Pugh revealed that she is "hugely excited" about her next MCU appearance in Thunderbolts, and potentially leading that team:
“Am I excited? Hugely excited. It’s been obviously a few years, and I feel like I’m really grateful that there’s been some time between them all, because it gives me more more time to figure out where she is, and where she’s going."
She added that she is "so grateful to be a part of [the Marvel Studios] family," and teased her excitement of working with David Harbour again...
"And I think I’m just so grateful to be a part of that family. And I said that when 'Black Widow' came out, I was so grateful to be a part of that family and the reception was just insane. But more so now, just that I’m continuing the story is like a huge, huge privilege. It’s a huge privilege, and I get to be back with my daddy, so...”
It was then that Horowitz brought up doing a movie "unmoored from Scarlett [Johansson's] character," to which the Yelena Belova actress remarked "Aw, don’t. I know. I’m already feeling sad about it:”
Horowitz: “And it’s exciting to see what that character is going to be unmoored from Scarlett’s character from 'Widow.' I mean so much of it was about that.”
Pugh: “Aw, don’t. I know. I’m already feeling sad about it.”
Pugh lamented that "it's so weird," having done Black Widow after Johansson's character was already dead in-universe, so she wouldn't have the chance to work with her again in the MCU:
“I know. It’s so weird, because I did a movie with her, and her character obviously had already passed. And so it’s like false hope, really. Yeah, I just got pulled in and then it was like, ‘Nope, you’re never gonna do that again.’”
Marvel Moves on From Scarlett Johansson
After more than a decade working within the franchise, it was bittersweet to see Scarlett Johansson officially move on from the MCU.
While there is always the chance she may come back in some capacity eventually (despite having been embroiled in a legal battle with Marvel Studios' parent company Disney after her departure), it seems - at least for now - she is gone.
But in Johansson's stead, fans are going to be treated to one of the brightest young stars currently working in Hollywood, Florence Pugh. Since joining the franchise Pugh has been nothing but enthusiastic about the MCU, complimenting the "beauty in the massive epic storylines" of these Marvel Studios "mega movies."
This interview is not the first time the actress has brought up working on her next MCU blockbuster. After the reveal of her character appearing in Thunderbolts, Pugh remarked that she is "incredibly grateful" to have "had the original experience" she did on Black Widow, before "[being] able to step back into that world again in my old character."
And despite perhaps missing her Black Widow co-star, Pugh seems excited about Thunderbolts as well, opining that it is "very interesting" what Marvel Studios has planned for her character going forward.
Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova can next be seen on the big screen when Thunderbolts hits theaters on July 26, 2024.