With the news that the Black Widow is to begin filming next month, it’s quite surprising there have been no leaks, teases or accidental spoilers in regards to what the film will entail. The reason for this is likely to put more focus on the upcoming films, with attention drawn away from what will be released as part of phase 4 of the MCU; especially since we’re still not sure how Endgame will finish things off in phase 3. There have been plenty of rumors flying around but nearly all of these have been mindless speculation, especially in regards to the potential rating of the film as well as when it will be set.
The current assumption is that the Black Widow film will pick up on plot points from a variety of Marvel projects, including Agent Carter, Age of Ultron and Iron Man 2. There has been many mentions to the red in the ledger of Romanov and her origin as part of a school for assassins. There have also been details regarding her long term friendship with Hawkeye as well as nods to other missions they worked on. But, this all seems too obvious a way to go for the film and would be bizarre to not announce it, since a prequel wouldn’t spoil anything. It also seems like somewhat of a step down for the character. Whilst she belongs in a world of espionage and intrigue, she’s just come off the back of fighting aliens, it would seem like an odd shift to go back to basics, now that we’ve seen so much of the character. Finally, fans probably won’t like it because it’s so expected. There needs to be something that is unpredictable for the movie and touches upon new ground.
When I was thinking about how a Black Widow film would come together, I wanted to avoid everything we already knew about her. It seems odd to retread ground that has been covered in multiple movies and would serve in a similar way to the Solo film, which ended up being ill-received due to it not uncovering anything new about the iconic Han Solo. There hasn’t been an origin film so far removed in the timeline of MCU releases. If this upcoming action thriller is to be an origin film it would feel very out of place. Black Widow needs to take place in phase 4 therefore.
For it to be a true success, it needs to capitalize on what has come before for the character and what fans have grown to know and enjoy about her and add to it further. It needs to be a spy or espionage film but it needs to be one that matches the talent of the character, with the villains especially being an important part of this. I have therefore come up with a set of antagonists, protagonists and a general plot line that may serve to address these issues with a solo film and actually add something interesting to the universe.
First, to decide on the supporting cast there needs to be an analysis of the world that Natasha inhabits. Whilst Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, and Sam Wilson seem like obvious choices, this is unlikely with the first probably being dead or removed in some way and the latter two forming a team within their own TV show which may clash in some way in terms of plot. The next obvious choice is her best friend Clint Barton. If he is to survive past the next Avengers film and his own TV show is more focused on mentoring a new Hawkeye, then it seems like there will be space for him in this film. Adding Clint to the cast as a supporting player makes sense and continues to develop the friendship and bond between the two.
The next group to look to are the remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D. and I don’t mean those featured in the ABC series, although that in itself would be a great inclusion. I refer to Nick Fury and Maria Hill, who based on the Far From Home trailers, are still working together. If we are to see this team so soon before the Black Widow movie, it’s unlikely that they are to be featured again. That leaves us the final two people that may add something to the film, Sharon Carter and Everett Ross. Ross is going to play a part in Black Panther 2 and may even be featured in the upcoming Endgame. There are no clear plans for Carter though and with the governmental connections, as well as a link through both their friendship with Cap, it seems like Agent 13 might be the third and final addition to the trio. So a core team of Black Widow, Hawkeye and Agent 13 would be the best dynamic for this film.
Next, I discuss the antagonists of the piece. There needs to be a villain or group of villains that works within the espionage genre, is not a step down for this powerful trio and are also both visually and narratively interesting. Whilst I was conceptualizing this article I considered a link to the Secret Invasion for a while. Some kind of spy thriller where Natasha identifies who’s a Skrull could have been an interesting use of her talents and her film, setting up the larger crossover. As a story by itself however it did not work and probably didn’t do the Black Widow character the justice she deserved.
A second group came to mind however and it quickly became apparent that with this choice of villains, a lot can be developed upon for the wider universe whilst also serving as a satisfying story worthy of the super hero’s skills. The Ten Rings terrorist group seems like the perfect villains to involve in this tale. Having Natasha uncover their links across the world within corrupt governments, dodgy weapons deals and with other groups such as A.I.M. provides a premise that gives a feel of the Winter Soldier without serving in the same way. This is not a Hydra twist, this is more of a larger organization that operates in ways in which some real-life groups do right now; look at events such as the Russian hacking and it’s clear how an organization like Ten Rings can be drawn into seemingly real-life events within the MCU.
Having an Iron Man-linked villain is suitable considering the character’s debut in Iron Man 2 but there is enough leeway in regards to the coverage of the Ten Rings so far that the Black Widow film can develop their organization much further. All these investigations can, of course, lead to a moment that fans have been waiting for since Iron Man 3 and the short film All Hail the King. The introduction of the real Mandarin and a tale that sees the trio track him down much like real life terrorist hunts could be an element of fan service but also quality storytelling.
Bring back Trevor Slattery after his abduction and fix the problems of Iron Man 3 in a way that elevates both that film as well as this solo one. These suggestions form a storytelling structure that work well to carry on the momentum of the character and the universe, have a film that fits the genre correctly whilst still feeling a part of the MCU and most importantly is inventive enough to keep fans interested.
What do you think of these suggestions? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.