With all the talk about making a Black Widow solo title, it behooves us to explore how such an important character can lead the silver screen in a big way. There is no shortage of backers for the concept, Anthony and Joe Russo, Joss Whedon, and Kevin Feige have all chimed in to support the title. Even, Anthony Mackie (Falcon) offered a supporting role, and Black Widow herself Scarlett Johansson spoke on how she would like to see the project happen. With this seeming more and more likely, the question of how the character can fit into the growth of the MCU, still needs to be answered.
MOVING HER STORY FORWARD WITH THE CURRENT TIMELINE
In any film series, it’s important to move the character forward with each installment, without this, there is a risk of stagnating the character and making the audience feel more of the same. We have seen this evolution, thus far, through five movies in the MCU with Captain America: Civil War being where we leave Black Widow, possibly on the run.
After letting Steve Rogers and Bucky escape, Tony lets her know Senator Ross, who is the leading the enforcement of the Sokovia Accords, will be looking for her. An agent on the run is the perfect introduction to a spy thriller. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo confirmed that Civil War isn’t over yet, and with Steve Rogers’ half of the Avengers underground, as Scarlett Johansson mentioned in a recent interview, what happens when it all falls apart?
This sets the stage for the rise of the Thunderbolts. Briefly, in the comics, the Thunderbolts mostly consisted of villains who portray themselves as heroes. During the events of Civil War and after, they become villains in support of registration. Led by Norman Osborn they hunt unregistered super humans with the support of the government. For the purposes of the MCU, Thaddeus Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) makes for a good stand-in for Norman Osborn. Though the thunderbolt moniker held by Ross has nothing to do with the Thunderbolts team, I think it makes for a nice coincidence. (Ross does become Red Hulk in the comics and much more recently a member of the Thunderbolts). As the lead for the Sokovia Accords, in Civil War we see Ross willing to take the direct approach with enforcement, and him at odds with Tony Stark. It’s not too unbelievable that he would start his own team of registered villains willing to make the most extreme calls.
As a super spy we wouldn’t expect Black Widow to stay in hiding, this makes for a perfect opportunity for the character to infiltrate an organization operating in the shadows of the government.
In the Thunderbolts comic book, Natasha Romanoff impersonates Yelena Belova in order to appear as supporting the Registration act and hunting down unregistered heroes. Sporting a high-tech costume, it isn’t until later that the reader learns who is really under the Black Widow mask and that she has orders directly from Nick Fury, the latter of who is currently MIA in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This would be a great way to advance the character in the current timeline and develop a highly coveted team-up film like Thunderbolts. Last year there was even rumors of a Thunderbolts series in development on Netflix. It’s also a great reason to show off her Thunderbolts costume. I mean she is Black Widow, she has to have eight eyes at some point, right! Technologically, I would like to see a personal cloaking device which has been used in the animated series and bring back the mask tech she used in Captain America: Winter Soldier. But, as Tony Stark said in Captain America: Civil War, “it must be hard to shake the double agent role”. So, why not continue to explore that, now, with her pretending to be pro-registration and in her past, as a Russian spy.
WHAT ABOUT BACK STORY THOUGH?
That’s where the ever present flashback sequences are so important, when done well and in detail, they can enrich the current situation of a character in a film.
The backstory of Black Widow is something that could never be left out of a solo movie. Past history with The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) have been hinted at in previous films as well as little clues outlining the rich history of the character that have been left like bread crumbs throughout the movies she has appeared in.
In The Avengers, Black Widow tells Loki “I’ve got red in my ledger I’d like to get out.” He responds saying Barton told me everything and mentions São Paulo. Later, Hawkeye says to Black Widow: “just like Budapest, all over again.” During Captain America: Winter Soldier, she details how The Winter Soldier shot through her to kill his target, leaving her wounded but alive. In Captain America: Civil War when a mind controlled Winter Soldier is choking her, she says “you could at least recognize me.” Lastly, during Avengers: Age of Ultron we get our first look into her past and childhood, at the Red Room facility where she became Black Widow.
I think we have yet to see just how strong the character can be. Who knows maybe we even get a broader scope of her talents. In the comics, Natasha receives a Red Room variant of the Super-Soldier Serum which could serve as evidence for her peak human abilities. The Red Room as shown in Age of Ultron is also where Natasha was sterilized in order to focus solely on missions. These are all great areas to explore in her backstory.
Considering these aspects, it’s possible to keep the patience and tediousness of being a spy from getting boring, by showing flashbacks of the characters history and relating it to their current scenario.
WHERE DOES IT FIT IN THE CURRENT FILM SCHEDULE?
I know what your thinking, “Marvel’s film slate is full all the way to both Infinity films!”. But, do we know for sure that Cap and Iron Man will settle their dispute over the accords by the time we get to Avengers: Infinity War? Or even during Infinity War? Think about it, previously, when referring to why no heroes died in Civil War the Russo brother’s mentioned: “it’s about a divorce. If somebody dies, it would create empathy, which would change and allow for repair, and we didn’t want to do that.” If I read into this a bit, the same director’s for Infinity War don’t want the teams to be repaired so easily, they want that conflict. At the seat of any good film is a great conflict, nobody wants to see the Avengers all working together as a well-oiled machine perfectly in alignment and constantly winning the day. That is not riveting, it doesn’t make the audience feel anything. However, a conflicted team that has to put aside their differences for a second, breaking the law (we saw that a few times already in Civil War) to fight the greatest threat they have seen to date, that can be interesting. As Steve Rogers said: “No matter what, I promise you, if you need us – if you need me – I’ll be there.”
With that said, Marvel does have a fairly tight film schedule in the coming years, although surprisingly, 2019 only has two films currently on the docket (unlike 2017/2018 which sees Marvel Studios moving to three films a year). My proposal is to push back the Untitled Avengers 4 film (formerly Avengers: Infinity War Pt 2.) to later that year, in order to fit in a Black Widow solo outing. But, with Civil War possibly still raging on past Phase 3 a Black Widow movie could be worth waiting for until after Phase 3, who knows maybe they move to four movies a year by then. Unfortunately, there are a few sequels that will need to be made around that time that could cause problems when fitting in a solo Black Widow outing. For example, I expect Sony looking to capitalize quickly if Spider-Man: Homecoming is a monster success, which would mean a fast track for a 2019 sequel. Doctor Strange is another film that will more than likely have another installment waiting in the wings, and seeing as how it’s so different from anything else we have seen, it wouldn’t be surprising if it was part of a 2019 film slate. Finally, Guardians of the Galaxy may or may not have James Gunn returning for a third film, but assuming the sequel is another hit, the next film probably be released on one of those mystery 2020 dates Marvel Studios staked claim to earlier this year. That’s a lot of competition for a Black Widow feature film, but there are simply too many good reasons why this film is a must, and if the fans shake their fists in the air hard enough, it could happen! At some point.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.
(This is a purely speculative article, based on statements that have been made, and facts from previous films. It’s not a guarantee)