We’re coming up on the 10th anniversary of Iron Man 2, a movie that, among other things, introduced Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And a decade later, the character is finally getting her own standalone movie, although many MCU fans had been clamoring for Natasha to get the cinematic spotlight to herself much earlier.
However, if you ask Scarlett Johansson, Black Widow is arriving at the perfect time, particularly because of the other female-led superhero movies that have come out recently, like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, as well as Black Widow getting to fight alongside other MCU heroines, like Okoye and Scarlet Witch. As Johansson put it:
For anyone who said to me, ‘Oh, this [Black Widow film] should’ve happened five or 10 years ago,’ I’m like, it would not have been as substantial. We just would not have been able to do it. This film is happening now as a result of what’s going on in the zeitgeist, and I think it’s pretty cool.
Of The Avengers’ leading heroes, Black Widow and Hawkeye were the only ones who hadn’t starred in their own movies beforehand, and Natasha Romanoff instead kept contributing to the MCU in ensemble pieces and as a supporting player in other superheroes’ movies. Now she finally gets to lead her own cinematic adventure, while Clint Barton is set to train Kate Bishop in the Hawkeye Disney+ series.
If you’ve been an MCU fan for most of its existence, chances are you ran into comments and opinion pieces arguing why Black Widow deserved her own movie years back. As it turns out, Scarlett Johanson and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige first discussed a potential Black Widow movie during The Avengers press tour in 2012, and by 2014, Feige said publicly that Natasha Romanoff getting her own platform was being explored. Then towards the end of 2017, development on the project kicked off, and now we’re a little under two months from it hitting the big screen.
Scarlett Johansson added to EW that she was initially okay if Black Widow never got her own movie because she wanted to be “creatively challenged,” i.e. not just do the same thing she’d already done before.” It was only after meeting with director Cate Shortland that the actress changed her mind and decided this creative endeavor was worth pursing.
Kevin Feige also noted that the reason it’s taken so long for the Black Widow movie to arrive is because Natasha Romanoff’s evolution during the Infinity Saga was prioritized. Feige explained:
We had been planning the conclusion for the Infinity Saga for the past five or six years, and Natasha’s journey within those films took the priority. The notion of breaking out for a stand-alone film that takes place in the past, for a character that we already knew and were already following, didn’t feel right.
As those who saw Avengers: Endgame know, Natasha Romanoff sacrificed her life so that Clint Barton could obtain the Soul Stone on Vormir. So we’ve seen how her journey ends, but Black Widow will turn the clock back to the period between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, and follow Natasha as she confronts a conspiracy tied to her past as a Russian spy.
Joining Scarlett Johansson in Black Widow are Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov (a.k.a. Red Guardian), Rachel Weisz as Vostokoff, O.T. Fagbenle as Rick Mason and William Hurt as Thaddeus Ross, along with a yet-to-be-revealed actor playing the villainous Taskmaster. As mentioned earlier, Cate Shortland directed, and Eric Pearson wrote the screenplay based off a story by Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson.
Black Widow opens in theaters on May 1, and if you’re curious about what other movies will come out during Phase 4, head to our Marvel movies guide.