Marvel fans have been clamoring for a stand-alone Black Widow movie for years, and they’re finally getting one. Despite her seemingly permanent send-off in Avengers: Endgame, Natasha Romanoff will return to the big screen to kick off Marvel’s highly anticipated Phase 4.
In true superspy fashion, Marvel Studios is keeping many details of Black Widow tightly-guarded secrets, but the company has revealed some footage from the film via trailers and television ads. Here’s everything we know about Black Widow so far, which is currently scheduled to premiere on May 7, 2021.
All in the family
In an interview for Black Widow‘s tie-in coffee table book, David Harbour revealed some more information about the primary protagonists of the upcoming film.
“Now, the connection to him and Black Widow is that they were set up as a spy family in America in the ’90s,” Harbour said. “So, Rachel Weisz’s character, Melina, was sort of the mom, Alexei was the dad, and Natasha and Yelena were their little kids. We see that in the beginning of the movie, and they sort of function as a family.” Somewhat like FX’s The Americans, Black Widow deals with Soviet government-appointed spy families.
Now, it’s 20 years since the family split up, and Alexei (Harbour) is trying to get this unit back to functioning as a family and help Natasha find a missing piece of her identity. “Alexei’s had this deep knowledge of Natasha in a certain way that no one else had when she was a kid. He took her from the Red Room and also put her back into the Red Room because he believed in this cause.”
New release date
In March, Disney was forced to delay several films due to the coronavirus pandemic, including Black Widow. The studio announced a new release date, November 6, but in September it was reported that Disney is considering another delay for the Marvel Cinematic Universe film. That delay was later confirmed, with Disney pushing the film’s premiere back to May 7, 2021.
The tepid box-office response to the few films released in theaters since they began reopening — particularly Christopher Nolan’s Tenet — reportedly pushed Disney to put another change in the film’s U.S. release date on the table. The film was originally scheduled to premiere May 1.
Extra footage in Imax
In an Imax earnings call, it was casually reported that Black Widow Imax screenings will have 30 minutes of expanded 1.90:1 footage. The film has always been fully intended for a theatrical rather than video-on-demand release, despite the pandemic, and this news about additional footage only affirms that it’s likely a theaters-or-bust scenario.
— Anton Volkov (@antovolk) July 29, 2020
‘Hand the baton’
In an interview with Empire, director Cate Shortland confirmed that Black Widow will “hand the baton” to Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova. This would seem to indicate that Yelena will be the MCU’s Black Widow going forward.
“[Kevin Feige] realized that the audience would expect an origin story so, of course, we went in the opposite direction,” She said. “And we didn’t know how great Florence Pugh would be. We knew she would be great, but we didn’t know how great. Scarlett is so gracious, like, ‘Oh, I’m handing her the baton.’ So it’s going to propel another female storyline.”
But don’t start planning the MCU’s future in your head just yet. Speaking with Total Film (via Games Radar), Pugh said she would like to “see if people like Yelena” before thinking about additional Marvel movies. “If you get asked to be in a Marvel film, and it was so thrilling and fun and exciting to be in, then, of course, your head goes: ‘Oh, my God. If this is what it’s like, then what else is next?’ If that happens and I am lucky enough that people appreciate my character, that’s an exciting road to go on,” she said. “I would be silly to not be excited by it. I think that being part of the Marvel club is a great honor. But we’ll just see if people like Yelena first.”
Despite the release delay, new promotional images for Black Widow continue to surface. Total Film released multiple new images in September.
— Total Film (@totalfilm) September 16, 2020
The movie website /Film acquired two in April.
Empire also released a couple of exclusive images in March.
And a few more were released on Twitter on March 20 and 21, 2020.
— Black Widow Movie (@BlackWidow_Film) March 20, 2020
— Black Widow Movie (@BlackWidow_Film) March 20, 2020
— MarvelFlix (@MarvelFlix) March 21, 2020
Trailers and previews
The latest trailer for Black Widow provides a much deeper look into the upcoming film. The trailer (see above) is packed with some new action scenes and reveals the main objective for Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow. The film’s main logline states that Black Widow will confront “the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.”
Black Widow made her presence known during the Super Bowl in February with a TV ad (see below) featuring some fresh footage from the upcoming film. The 30-second preview introduced audiences to the team she called her family before The Avengers.
Marvel released a new trailer for Black Widow (see below) during the College Football Playoff National Championship game in January, and the preview offered significantly more footage of Taskmaster, the Marvel Comics mercenary making his live-action debut in Black Widow.
A month earlier, Marvel debuted the first footage from Black Widow via a short teaser trailer for the film (see below) that offered a glimpse of the title character’s return to the region where she began her career as a deadly superspy.
Along with getting a peek at Scarlett Johansson’s return as the titular superhero, the trailer also introduced Florence Pugh as super-spy Yelena Belova; Stranger Things actor David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov, aka the Red Guardian; and Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff, aka the Iron Maiden. The preview also provided the first look at Taskmaster.
New look, new poster, new characters
During Disney’s D23 Expo in August 2019, Black Widow was the subject of several Marvel movie updates, including a preview of the new, not-black suit Natasha will don in the film.
— MCU Direct (@MCU_Direct) August 25, 2019
The suit was also on display during the event, offering attendees an up-close look at the superspy’s fresh threads.
As if that wasn’t enough of a tease, artist Andy Park also revealed the official Black Widow poster he painted for the film.
BLACK WIDOW!!! Official D23 poster I had the honor of painting. She’s very near & dear to me since it’s the gazillionth time I’ve concept designed/painted her. What a cast & crew! #BlackWidow @MarvelStudios #ScarlettJohansson @Florence_Pugh @DavidKHarbour #RachelWeisz @DisneyD23 pic.twitter.com/fxMOI4fJ5R
— Andy Park (@andyparkart) August 25, 2019
The image features Johansson as the titular secret agent front and center, but it also includes an image of the villain Taskmaster in the background, as well as the first look at Red Guardian, the character portrayed by Stranger Things actor David Harbour.
Naturally, Black Widow is headlined by the one and only Scarlett Johansson, who will be slipping into the Black Widow’s stealth suit for the eighth time. Johansson has played Black Widow since 2010, when she debuted in Iron Man 2. Johansson’s Black Widow has also appeared in all four Avengers movies, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Captain America: Civil War.
She’ll be joined in Black Widow by Florence Pugh, who will play Natasha’s fellow Red Room alumnus, Yelena Belova. Pugh, who burst on the scene in 2014’s The Falling, is one of Hollywood’s brightest rising stars.
The young actress received rave reviews for her lead performance in Lady Macbeth, and recently appeared in the wrestling comedy Fighting with My Family and Midsommar, Ari Aster’s chilling follow-up to Hereditary.
In addition, Stranger Things‘ very own Chief Hopper, David Harbour, will appear in Black Widow as The Red Guardian, the Russian equivalent of Captain America — and, in Marvel’s comics, Natasha’s ex-husband.
Rachel Weisz also joined the cast as Melina Vostokoff, aka the Iron Maiden, along with O-T Fagbenle in an unspecified role.
The plot and the timeline
For those of you who need a quick refresher, Civil War ended with Black Widow on the lam after helping Captain America and the Winter Soldier escape prosecution at the hands of Iron Man’s pro-oversight forces. She remained in hiding until Infinity War, when Thanos’ impending arrival forced her to emerge from the shadows.
Marvel also announced that one of Black Widow’s bad guys will be Taskmaster. In the comics, Taskmaster is a mercenary who can mimic the fighting style of any opponent. He tends to carry a sword and a shield, although he’s a skilled hand-to-hand combatant as well, and should give Natasha a pretty tough fight.
We can also make a few predictions based on Florence Pugh’s role. In the comic books, Pugh’s character, Yelena Belova, is a product of the Red Room, the shadowy Soviet training and brainwashing facility that forges Black Widows (yes, there are more than one). When Yelena debuted in 1999, she was a villain who had all of Natasha’s abilities — they were taught at the same place, after all — until Natasha proved to be the superior fighter, at which point she retired.
The Red Room is already canon in the MCU, and it’s been referenced in both Avengers: Age of Ultron and Agent Carter. Expect it to play a big role in Black Widow, too. In fact, if Natasha Romanoff’s time in the MCU is truly finished after Black Widow, it wouldn’t be a major shock to see Yelena take on the Black Widow mantle going forward. After all, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Thor are also getting MCU replacements. What’s one more?
Behind the camera
Black Widow is being directed by Cate Shortland, who’s best known for the Nazi drama Lore. In 2017, Shortland also directed Berlin Syndrome, a psychological thriller about a young photographer who’s held captive by her one-night stand. Shortland beat out 70 other directors for the role, and was reportedly Johansson’s personal favorite.
Meanwhile, Black Widow‘s script was written by Jac Schaeffer, whose credits include her debut film Timer and The Shower, a script that earned a spot on Hollywood’s Black List of popular scripts circulating in the industry. Schaeffer also wrote the script for the upcoming comedy Nasty Women, a female-led remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels starring Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, and Alex Sharp.
A super paycheck for a super spy
Marvel knows what Black Widow is worth to the MCU, and for Natasha’s solo flick it decided to pay Johansson accordingly. For Black Widow, the Marvel veteran will earn a whopping $15 million, which is on par with what Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth earned for playing Captain America and Thor, respectively, in both Infinity War and their most recent solo features (Captain America: Civil War and Thor: Ragnarok).
For the sake of comparison, Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman was reportedly paid $2 million to star in that character’s first solo feature, while Brie Larson is said to have earned $5 million to star in Captain Marvel movie — which also required her to sign a seven-movie deal with Marvel.
Johansson didn’t make Black Widow just for the money, however. It’s a personal project, too. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actress claimed that she was originally worried that she wouldn’t “be able to make a movie that I wanted to within Marvel,” and only signed on to Black Widow after Marvel agreed to fuse some of her ideas with those proposed by Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige.
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