Scarlett Johansson seems to finally be getting her own solo Black Widow film after numerous appearances in other films set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe dating back to her debut in Iron Man 2 back in 2010. Did Marvel miss the boat on the timing and placement of this film?
Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow has been a mainstay in the MCU. Her appearances in films like Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers: Infinity War have cemented her as a major player and founding member of The Avengers team.
Throughout her time as one of the most formidable non-powered human heroes tasked with defending Earth from the likes of terrorists, evil organizations and maniacal aliens, Black Widow has remained an integral cog in the machine that is The Avengers. Now that her own solo film has found its director in Cate Shortland, one question has arisen: Is now the right time for a Black Widow movie?
In the current context of the state of the MCU coming off of Infinity War, half of all life in the universe has been “dusted”. As fans anxiously await next year’s Avengers 4 to find out how and if our remaining heroes can restore the fates of all of the now lost souls, how will a Black Widow film fit into the current timeline?
Although no plot synopsis or details regarding the film have been released as of yet (and the film hasn’t been given an official green light), it’s certainly possible that Black Widow could be a prequel film. Natasha’s back story, although somewhat fleshed out in past films, is still a bit of a mystery. We know she’s a spy and superb fighter and had a rough upbringing as shown in scenes in Age of Ultron, but there is certainly plenty of material in which to draw from to fill out a prequel story. However, going backwards in the timeline at this point won’t bring anything new to this universe. The current story won’t be given a chance to move forward, as a prequel will have to fit precisely within the parameters of past films.
A Black Widow film could certainly be a current story as well, set either before, during, or after the events of Infinity War and Avengers 4. But with the fate of the universe resting on the defeat of Thanos, how does a small-scale story featuring Black Widow really make sense in the grand scheme of things? Her story is more suited for a genre along the lines of The Winter Soldier or even Ant-Man to a degree in terms of its scale and scope.
Another issue arises, which you may either agree or disagree with, but it’s certainly valid. In this shared universe of powered people, gods, aliens and galactic beings, giving a non-powered human their own movie takes away from the spectacle of what this whole universe inherently represents. Think about it like this: The Winter Soldier was a political spy thriller. However, the main character of the film is an enhanced person in the form of Captain America. We could have easily had the character be a generic SHIELD agent going through the motions of finding out about HYDRA infiltrating SHIELD and taking on a threat like The Winter Soldier, but this film could be titled something like Mission: Impossible or The Bourne Identity.
The fact that the stories told in the Marvel Cinematic Universe don’t focus solely on regular humans with a “particular set of skills” is what makes it fun. So by moving forward with a film like Black Widow or even giving some other characters like Hawkeye their own films, the grand spectacle of making a super hero movie is taken away. Audiences can go see any number of action films with normal human characters, but when they walk into their local theatres to sit down and watch a Marvel movie, they’re expecting to see things that they wouldn’t see with a film like Taken or a James Bond film.
Could a Black Widow solo film be great? Absolutely it could. But knowing how the universe has been shaped and where the story is heading, does it necessarily make sense to release it now? That’s certainly up for debate. In this writer’s opinion, a Black Widow film would have been much better suited if it had been released before Age of Ultron. Widow’s ties to SHIELD could have gone a long way into making her film feel more fluid in that particular time period and fans could have gotten a much bigger taste of the inner-workings of SHIELD.
In fact, a Black Widow/Hawkeye film chronicling their pasts and their affiliation with SHIELD could have been great if placed into the MCU timeline correctly. Movies like The Winter Soldier would have had much more at stake if SHIELD was more properly fleshed out. Instead, an organization that fans didn’t get to learn all that much about was pushed into being overtaken by HYDRA and has become a non-factor after its downfall.
Regardless of how a Black Widow film plays out, it’s important to note that when audiences go to see these films, they’re using it as an escape from reality. They don’t want to see normal people doing above average things, they want to see giant green rage monsters, Norse gods with magic hammers and Mad Titans threatening to destroy everything. There are plenty of other spaces for human stories to be told, such as television series or on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, etc. If you want an example of a show that mainly features regular people, Agents of SHIELD may be up your alley. Netflix’s The Punisher was incredible but didn’t occupy the same space that Captain America or The Hulk does.
A similar situation is currently happening with the Star Wars franchise. In the case of Star Wars, the new films are constantly referencing and bringing back past characters, events and locations and ultimately making their universe smaller. It’s time to move forward and expand outward and bring about new characters, new locations and new stories. A prequel Black Widow film may serve as connective tissue from events in the past, but it would do nothing to move the story forward. And a film set in the current timeline simply won’t matter with the events of Infinity War taking place and the looming battle to come in Avengers 4.
To reiterate an earlier statement, a Black Widow film could absolutely be very good and do very well financially. However, due to the current state of the MCU and how the future of this film franchise may be heading, it just seems like this project is coming much too late in the game. With arguments both for and against this film, do you think it’s a good idea? Has Scarlett Johansson paid her dues long enough to warrant her own film? Or is a move like this one to simply add more of a female presence into the male-dominated realm that is the MCU? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!