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In The Avengers: Age of Ultron, audiences were treated to a flashback showing the origins of Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) in the Russian Black Widow program. Now, it looks like director Francis Lawrence is going to tap a similar creative well for his upcoming espionage thriller, Red Sparrow. In fact, Lawrence understands the comparisons to the Marvel Cinematic Universe's femme fatale super spy, but he also implores audiences to realize that this is a very different type of movie because it's based on the Red Sparrow book, and not Marvel Comics. The Hunger Games and I Am Legend director explained:
There's people who think it's very similar to the Black Widow story. This is not pulled from BW, this is pulled from Red Sparrow, you know, it's written by a guy who was in the CIA. It's like, his references are coming from a very, very different place from that. But there'll always be that. People like to put things in boxes, and I think is a really unique film. This is a thriller, it's not action, again it's not gadgety. It's a hard-R. There's violence, it's a bit perverse, it's suspenseful, a lot of intrigue. It 's a very different kind of spy film.
If you have kept up with Red Sparrow's development at all, then there is a good chance that you have already heard about these comparisons. In the same way that people joked that last year's Life was a secret prequel to this year's Venom movie, others also noted that Red Sparrow could easily be a secret Black Widow origin movie -- which was always unlikely, given the fact that an entirely different studio made Red Sparrow. The comparisons seem to make sense to Francis Lawrence, but he's not leaning into them because he didn't look at Black Widow as a source of inspiration.
Despite some of the inherent similarities shared between Red Sparrow and Black Widow, Francis Lawrence made sure to note the differences between them in his conversation with Screen Rant. Perhaps most notably, while Natasha Romanoff often spends much of the Avengers movies and Captain America movies doing high-flying acrobatics and using cool gadgets, Red Sparrow will lean far more heavily on a grounded sensibility in which Jennifer Lawrence's Dominika Egorova will need to use her body and her mind to escape danger. Both are female, Russian assassins, but the stories do not cross-pollinate beyond that core idea and share much in terms of tone or style. As much as fans want to classify them as similar ideas, Francis Lawrence asserts that Sparrow is a wholly unique story that sticks to a more realistic and authentic sensibility.
This distinction is probably best for everyone, as the fact that differences between Red Sparrow and the MCU's most-experienced female hero already exist will go a long way towards helping Marvel within the next few years. If you haven't already heard, it was recently announced that a Black Widow movie started development at Marvel Studios. With Red Sparrow already in the cultural zeitgeist, a spinoff film centering on the exploits of Ms. Romanoff will likely once again draw comparisons, so it's up to Lawrence's film to prove how different they truly are.