Ned Benson Is ‘Open’ to Returning to Marvel After Rewriting ‘Black Widow,’ but Directing Would ‘Take a Toll’

Five years after his debut film “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” filmmaker Ned Benson took on a somewhat unexpected new gig: rewriting the “Black Widow” script.

The filmmaker, whose sophomore feature “The Greatest Hits” is now streaming on Hulu, was tapped to rewrite the MCU Scarlett Johansson-led prequel back in 2019. The Marvel film was first written by Jac Schaeffer, and Benson was ultimately given a “story by” credit alongside Schaeffer. (The final script was written by Marvel staple “Thor: Ragnarok” Eric Pearson, who is also behind upcoming MCU installments “Thunderbolts” and “The Fantastic Four.”)

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Now, with “The Greatest Hits” being a Disney-owned Searchlight release via Hulu, Benson told IndieWire that being back in the fray of Disney means he’s not necessarily shutting the door on a big franchise film like a Marvel movie.

“I’m not really … I just don’t know. I’m open to anything, as long as I feel that I am suitable for the job,” Benson said when asked about returning to the franchise fray. “I think if something is exciting to me, I’m going to put everything I have into it. So with that opportunity, I took the opportunity and really dove into that script and tried to figure it out.”

Benson added, “As a writer, I’m always excited to try stuff. As a filmmaker, I think I’m a little more reticent, because I think you’re spending two years or more of your life on each of these projects. It really takes a toll on your lifestyle. As a writer, I’m open to anything. As a director, I have to see what makes sense.”

In 2019, Collider reported that Marvel executives’ interest was piqued following the TIFF premiere of Benson’s directorial debut “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” which began as a Blacklist script. At the time, former Sony executive Amy Pascal’s Pascal Pictures had recently hired Benson to adapt the award-winning Dallas Morning News article “My Aryan Princess” for the screen, with “Black Widow” actress Scarlett Johansson cast in the lead role. The article followed the true crime tale of a woman who attempted to take down the Aryan Brotherhood in Texas.

Five years later, and Benson has confirmed to IndieWire that the project is indeed still in the works. The film, now titled “Featherwood,” is written by Benson and will be directed by “American Honey” helmer Arnold, whose latest feature “Bird” is debuting at Cannes 2024. Johansson will portray Carol Blevins, a heroin addict and “Aryan Princess featherwood,” a term meaning the property of a gang member, who became one of the FBI’s most important informants during a six-year investigation into the neo-Nazi crime and drug syndicate known as the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.

“There’s one that’s sort of out there. I wrote a movie called ‘Featherwood’ that Andrea Arnold is directing with Scarlett Johansson starring, which I’m really excited about. It’s based on this podcast and article that’s pretty crazy,” Benson told IndieWire. “That’s been one that’s been in the works for a bit. There’s a few other things that I wish I could talk about but I’ll upset people if I do. There are two or three or four things in the works.”

While Benson stayed mum on those other projects, he did tease that there is neither music nor romance (“surprisingly not”), two of his signature attributes found in his romantic dramas “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” and song-centric “The Greatest Hits,” involved in his upcoming endeavors.

“The Greatest Hits” is now streaming on Hulu.

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