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 returns to the big screen May 1, 2020, to kick off Marvel’s highly anticipated Phase 4.
In true superspy fashion, Marvel Studios is keeping many details of Black Widow a tightly guarded secret, 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.
Trailers and previews
Black Widow made her presence known during the Super Bowl in February with a new TV ad (see above) featuring some fresh footage from the upcoming film. The 30-second preview introduced audiences to the team she called her family prior to 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 Natasha Romanoff, the trailer also introduced Florence Pugh as super-spy Yelena Bolova, 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
Even though Black Widow is less than a year from release, we still don’t know much about its plot, although we do know when it takes place. At Comic-Con International 2019, Marvel confirmed that Black Widow is a prequel film that will be set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.
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, who’s also poised to be a major villain in Square Enix’s upcoming Avengers video game. In the comics, Taskmaster is a mercenary who can mimic the fighting style of any opponent he crosses paths with. 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?
Black Widow will hit theaters on May 1, 2020, about 10 months after the last MCU film, Spider-Man: Far From Home. That’s the longest gap between Marvel movies since 2012 and 2013, when a full year elapsed between the release of The Avengers and Iron Man 3.
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 around 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.
Updated February 2 with details about Super Bowl ad.
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