“How stupid is that? Jesus!”: Scarlett Johansson Turned Down 1 Arnold Schwarzenegger Remake for The Avengers That Terminator Star Ridiculed Himself

The Avengers may seem like a blip in the vast history of the MCU but for Scarlett Johansson, the film came as a savior and a blessing.

Scarlett Johansson and Arnold Schwarzenegger


  • Scarlett Johanssonʼs role in the MCU saved her from marring her career with a terrible box-office flop.
  • The Avengers helped Scarlett Johansson get out of signing onto an Arnold Schwarzenegger remake from the ʼ90s.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger mocked the remake of Paul Verhoevenʼs Total Recall starring Colin Farrell for all the right reasons.
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The evolution of filmmaking spanning the past 50 years has been drastic. An actress as accomplished as Scarlett Johansson would obviously be aware of those changes while picking out potential scripts and sniffing out critical hits. And among all the actors whose films would be worthy of being rebooted or remade, there couldnʼt be a more affluent actor than Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Total Recall (1990) [Credit: Sony Pictures]
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone in Paul Verhoevenʼs Total Recall (1990) [Credit: Sony Pictures]
However, even for the biggest star of the late 20th century, the Predator star made some ambitiously bad choices that his long and illustrious history as an actor, politician, and philanthropist can’t erase. Fortunately, Johanssonʼs need to establish herself in her own space rather than gain success by walking in someone elseʼs shadow saved her from falling into the trappings of the remake curse.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Vs Colin Farrell – Total Recall

Movie stars of the late 20th century walked so the ones in the early 21st century could run. But for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Scarlett Johansson, their overlapping fate almost made it difficult to separate right from wrong. For Schwarzenegger, the movie that added a notch to his belt and was right for his time went wrong when adapted for a remake in Johanssonʼs career arc as a rising star.


Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall [Credit Sony Pictures]
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall [Credit: Sony Pictures]
The 1990 Paul Verhoeven film, Total Recall, adapted from Philip K. Dickʼs 1966 short story, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone, was a product of its time. The combination of Terminator star, Basic Instinct actress, and RoboCop director in an era of sci-fi domination made Total Recall almost a preordained box-office success.

However, the 2012 reboot starring Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, and Kate Beckinsale was not only weak in its foundation but failed to bring alive the charm of the ʼ90s film. Moreover, the lack of originality in the remake made it a lazy attempt at mimicking Schwarzeneggerʼs box-office success. As such, the actor, in a 2020 GQ interview, was right in mocking Farrellʼs remake saying:

“They tried to copy it. Someone tried to do a remake of it. How stupid is that? I mean, Jesus!”

Colin Farrell in Total Recall (2012) [Credit Sony Pictures]
Colin Farrell in Total Recall (2012) [Credit: Sony Pictures]
When the offer came about for the 2012 film, Scarlett Johansson was already committed to the Marvel franchise. The filming of The Avengers then clashed with that of Total Recall and even though scheduling conflicts posed a barrier in accepting the Schwarzenegger remake, Avengers essentially saved Scarlett Johansson from relapsing into obscurity with one wrong call.


Avengers Saved Scarlett Johansson From a Horrible Fate

Scarlett Johansson in the MCU as Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow [Credit Marvel Studios]
Scarlett Johansson in the MCU as Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow [Credit: Marvel Studios]
The Total Recall remake offer came at a fairly advantageous time for Avengers star Scarlett Johansson, given her contractual commitment to Marvel. But the story simply does not end there. When Kevin Feige laid down the groundwork for the MCU, the Original Six who would go on to form the Avengers was a prerequisite to secure the studioʼs future. As such, the Black Widowʼs addition to the team was inevitable from the beginning.

However, fates weaved their yarn when Emily Blunt – the studioʼs first choice – turned it down and the role landed in the waiting hands of Scarlett Johansson. In the 11 years that followed since her debut in Robert Downey Jr.ʼs Iron Man 2, the actress immortalized Natasha Romanoff until her very last appearance in the aptly titled solo feature Black Widow (2021).

Total Recall (1990) is available for streaming on MGM+ and Paramount+ while the Colin Farrell remake is available for streaming on Netflix.


Written by Diya Majumdar

Articles Published: 1562

With a degree in Literature from Miranda House, Diya Majumdar now has above 1500 published articles on FandomWire. Her passion and profession both include dissecting the world of cinema while being a liberally opinionated person with an overbearing love for Monet, Edvard Munch, and Van Gogh. Other skills include being the proud owner of an obsessive collection of Spotify playlists.