Oscar-winning filmmaker Chloe Zhao was originally in the running to direct Black Widow before Marvel offered her Eternals, studio boss Kevin Feige said.
Zhao, who made history at the Academy Awards by becoming the first woman of colour to win best director, worked with a star-studded cast on her upcoming superhero film.
Eternals, starring Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden and Salma Hayek, is set to be released in November.
Feige, president of Marvel Studios and one of Hollywood’s most successful producers, said Zhao was among those considered to make Black Widow, before Cate Shortland signed on to direct.
Speaking to Variety, Feige said: “Well, my memory of events, which is always coloured by our own experiences, of course, is that she first popped up for Black Widow.
“Brad Winderbaum, who is a producer on Black Widow, either had an initial meeting with her and then she was going to come back in and do a pitch meeting — but she took herself out of it.
“She didn’t have the time, or she wasn’t ready yet, or maybe she was gone off to shoot or prep Nomadland – I don’t remember exactly.”
Zhao won best director for Nomadland while the drama also won best picture and best actress for star Frances McDormand.
Feige said for Eternals, which is based on a group of superheroes who made their first appearance in Marvel comics in 1976, Zhao pitched a “very bold and very ambitious” presentation.
Black Widow, which stars Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz, is set for release in July.