Marvel’s Recast Black Widow Actress Reportedly Starring in Next Year’s Big Sequel

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Lake Bell (L) and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow (R)

Credit: Lake Bell Instagram (L) / Marvel Studios (R)

Earlier this year, the Marvel Cinematic Universe gained its first animated television series, What If…?. The show brought many popular characters like the late Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa, Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes, AKA Winter Soldier, and the Avenger Iron Man to the small screen on the Disney+ show.

One notable thing that the MCU series did was recast certain roles with new performers, one of which was Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, who was voiced by Lake Bell. Now, Bell has been spotted on the set of a big, blockbuster Marvel sequel debuting next year — could it be that this Multiverse version of Black Widow is moving to live-action?

Guardians Multiverse
Credit: Marvel Studios

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What If…? debuted on Disney+ with much less universal fanfare than its predecessors — WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki. The Tom Hiddleston series broke Disney+ records and subsequently caused a shift for the streamer, with Disney now debuting all the new series on a Wednesday instead of Fridays.

The animated show, which is based on the Marvel Comics series of the same name, introduced old characters in new ways with the show’s narrator — Jeffrey Wright’s The Watcher — documenting alternate versions of events in the MCU’s long history. From Hayley Atwell’s Agent Peggy Carter AKA Captain Carter — Steve Rogers’ (Josh Keaton) never took the super-soldier serum — to Party Thor (Chris Hemsworth) fighting Captain Marvel (Alexandra Daniels), and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Mick Wingert) dying multiple times, the animated series was a hit with fans.

Ultron vs The Watcher What if...?
Credit: Marvel Studios

As you can see, not all the talent from Marvel’s live-action movies made it into the What If…? Marvel universe roster. Characters like Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), and Captain America were voiced by MCU newcomers Hudson Thames, Fred Tatasciore, and Keaton, respectively. See all the replacements here.

What If…? director Bryan Andrews alluded to scheduling issues being the reason some people didn’t return. Performers like Brie Larson were possibly filming sequels like Nia DaCosta’s The Marvels (2023) or even other Disney projects like the all-new Marvel experience for Disney Cruise Line. As for Holland, the actor is currently about to debut his third solo Spider-Man outing with Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), and executive producer, Brad Winderbaum suggested his contract with Sony may have been the reason Thames replaced him in What If…?.

Spider-Man wearing cape in What If...?
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Marvel’s Recast Black Widow May Make MCU Return Next Year

Back to Black Widow, Bell was a big-name choice for the former Red Room assassin in the alternate reality series. Appearing in multiple episodes of the show, Black Widow eventually became part of the Guardians of the Multiverse alongside Captain Carter, Thor, Doctor Strange Supreme (Benedict Cumberbatch), Gamora (Cynthia McWilliams), Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), and T’Challa/Star-Lord (Boseman), when Ultron (Ross Marquand) threatened to dominate every part of the Multiverse.

Marvel What if Natasha Romanoff Black Widow (lake bell) and Nick Fury (Samuel l Jackson)
Credit: Marvel Studios

In new images via Instagram, we can see Bell on the set of Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther (2018) sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022).

Atlanta_filming shared the set photos:

Ok. So there are three new cast members, including one deep Marvel reference gender swapped, and a day player. I’ll let figure/guess who is who. Also, the last imagine is black and white to make it harder to guess who is dangling from the helicopter…

Set image from 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' with Lake Bell
Credit: Atlanta Filming Instagram

While it doesn’t state that this is the set of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, a report from Cosmic Circus reveals the location, and on the right of the above image, a person looking remarkably like Bell can be seen. To further add to this rumor, the actress follows the Black Panther account on Instagram…

It isn’t at all confirmed that the actress is reprising her animated Black Widow role in live-action, but it is curious to see her on the set of this big blockbuster. Bell has many film and television credits, including Boston Legal, Man Up (2015), and The Secret Life of Pets (2016), so if Marvel were to bring her in as a new Multiversal Black Widow, it would be an interesting development for the ongoing legacy of the popular character and original Avenger.

Lake Bell
Credit: Lake Bell Instagram

Related: Marvel Could Recast Canceled Star Evangeline Lilly With New Actress

Johansson debuted the character in the MCU in Iron Man 2 (2010) before going on to become a major player in the Captain America and Avengers franchises. The actress headlined her own movie this year with Cate Shortland’s Black Widow (2021). While it was momentous for this fan-favorite to get her own solo story spinoff finally, it was tarred by litigation involving Johansson and Disney.

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow Natasha falling
Credit: Marvel Studios

In terms of the Black Panther sequel, the MCU movie has recently stopped production following the ongoing effects of star Letitia Wright’s (Shuri) injury earlier this year.

As for What If…?, the animated series will be launching its Season 2, possibly as early as next year, with more stories and more alternate universes coming to Marvel fans across the world.

Would you like to see Lake Bell as a new live-action Black Widow? Let us know in the comments below!

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