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Why The Black Widow Movie Shouldn't Be A Direct Prequel

Black Widow in Captain America: Civil War

Ever since she went undercover to keep an eye on Tony Stark in Iron Man 2, Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, has been an important superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from being one of the founding Avengers to helping take down HYDRA to, well, the list goes on. Unlike many of her teammates, though, she hasn't had the opportunity to star in her own movie, instead being relegated to ensemble casts or being a supporting character in another hero's movie, but that may soon change. Last week, it was reported that Marvel has hired Jac Schaffer to write a Black Widow movie, and word around town is that Schaffer will be meeting soon with Scarlett Johansson to go over the project. Assuming everything goes according to plan, the Black Widow movie will likely be ready to be released during Phase Four. However, while many fans have suggested over the years that a Black Widow movie should explore Natasha's past, at this stage of the MCU game, it would be a wiser course of action to keep the story set in the present, or at least not fully immerse itself in prequel territory.

The MCU has slowly divvied out information about Black Widow's past since 2012's The Avengers. Just like her comic book counterpart, Natasha Romanoff started out as a KGB agent, taken at a young age and trained in the Red Room to be a killing machine. Eventually S.H.I.E.L.D. learned about her, and Nick Fury sent Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, to eliminate her. Instead, the archer, impressed with her skills, kept her alive and recommended she join S.H.I.E.L.D., and she defected. Natasha's time in S.H.I.E.L.D. includes going on numerous missions with Hawkeye and crossing paths with The Winter Soldier. And that's basically all we know about Natasha's life pre-Iron Man 2, so yes, the Black Widow movie certainly has plenty of room to expand on her life either in the KGB and/or S.H.I.E.L.D. Had the Black Widow movie been greenlit years earlier, seeing the eponymous protagonist in an adventure years before she became a full-fledged superhero certainly would have been welcome. But now with Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 wrapping up Phase Three and Phase Four marking a new beginning for the MCU, it would be more interesting to follow Natasha into this new era.

When we last left of with Black Widow in Captain America: Civil War, she was on the run after helping Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes escape to track down Helmut Zero. Aside from rocking blonde hair in Avengers: Infinity War, we have no idea what's in store for her in the movie, though she evidently survives, because she's rumored to be battling Japanese gangsters in Avengers 4. In any case, assuming Natasha Romanoff makes it our of Phase Three alive, then she could either return to being an Avenger or go off on her own (retirement doesn't sound like her style). Although Black Widow most definitely qualifies as a superhero, some of her best stories are when she's back to her spy roots, so it would be great if we saw her return to this life, whether temporarily or permanently, after years of Avengers experience under her belt. That would be a much better path to go down rather than simply wind the clock back fully. Besides, 20th Century Fox's Red Sparrow basically resembles what a Black Widow movie would look like if we were following along with Natasha from her KGB days, so Marvel might as well take steps to ensure that her standalone story doesn't look like a duplicate.

Which isn't to say that this kind of Black Widow movie couldn't provide new details about Natasha Romanoff's past or even show flashbacks. In fact, it would make for a compelling story if someone or something from Natasha's KGB or S.H.I.E.L.D. days resurfaces, and as she deals with this, we see snippets of what happened to her the first time around. The key is to not let these prequel elements overtake the narrative set in the present day. We've watched Black Widow go through a lot of character development over the last eight years, and Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 will only add to that. Learning more about Natasha's past would be great, but it shouldn't come at the expense of focusing on how she's still growing following all her crazy adventures in the modern MCU, from battling aliens and robots to dealing with the Sokovia Accords being passed. Looking back at the past is okay, but looking to what's ahead is more important for this character.

We'll see where Phase Three starts to take Black Widow when Avengers: Infinity War is released on May 4, and stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates on the Black Widow movie. You can also look through our Marvel movies guide to see what else the MCU has in development.

Adam Holmes
Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.