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When the first rumors surfaced that Black Widow would finally be getting her own movie, Marvel fans got really excited. When those rumors indicated that such a film would actually be a prequel story, fans got curious. Then when Scarlett Johansson's character died in Avengers: Endgame, those fans became really curious. Just why was Marvel making a prequel for a character whose end we already knew?
While Marvel has never officially confirmed that a Black Widow movie is actually planned, the fact that the movie is happening is pretty clear and one of the few things we know about Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That doesn't mean that we really know anything about what the movie will actually be about or why the story is worth telling at a point after Scarlett Johansson's character has seemingly reached the end of her road. However, Marvel Studios' head Kevin Feige promises that everything will make sense...
There’s a method to the madness. There’s always a method and doing things in an unexpected way is something we find fun. There are ways to do prequels that are less informative or answer questions you didn’t necessarily have, and then there are ways to do prequels where you learn all sorts of things you never knew before.
While the Black Widow movie may be a prequel, that doesn't mean that it can't tell us something new about the character or the universe that won't be important to the future. Feige's comments to iO9 seem to be fairly clear that he believes the movie (that he still doesn't actually confirm is real) will teach us things that we didn't know before that will be of value.
Perhaps something that happened to Black Widow earlier in her career will end up coming back in the modern day of the MCU and impacting other characters. There's a certain irony in the idea that Black Widow's death could have been the catalyst for the events of the next phase. Maybe Black Widow had knowledge that would have prevented the next big catastrophe, but that information has died with her.
While the Black Widow film might be a prequel, Kevin Feige hopes that in the end the movie is able to stand on its own. He compares it to a great prequel series on television that has been able to do that...
I look at Better Call Saul as a wonderful example of a prequel that almost completely stands on its own apart from Breaking Bad because it informs you about so many things you didn’t know about before. So time will tell which way we’ve gone with a supposed Black Widow movie.
Better Call Saul is a prequel, but in the end the show isn't really about the events that lead to Breaking Bad, it's a separate story that gives viewers a lot of information that they never would have had otherwise. It fills out a character that, while interesting before, is all that much more so now that we see where he came from.
I like this idea a lot. While I liked Black Widow as a character, I always felt that the MCU didn't really do enough with her. We only barely got to know who she really was. Hopefully a prequel will give us more. It could actually make the events of Avengers: Endgame resonate that much more in retrospect once we see who Black Widow really is.