Why Scarlett Johansson Loves That Black Widow Is Set Right After Captain America: Civil War

Black Widow

Leading up to the release of Marvel Studios’ Black Widow, the film has been labeled by fans as an origin story for a character we have known since Iron Man 2. And even though we have seen glimpses into the dark past of Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Black Widow will not operate as a full-blown origin story that takes us all the way back to pre-training days for the talented spy. Johansson, specifically, stated that she wanted to find a way of keeping Natasha’s story moving forward, even though the timeline of the narrative will be a step back (just not THAT far back). It will make more sense once you are finally able to see Black Widow.

Instead, the action in Cate Shortland’s upcoming Black Widow movie will be set in the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, which leaves Natasha (Johansson) in a very specific state. Having assisted Cap (Chris Evans) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) by immobilizing Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Natasha escaped into exile while the rest of Team Cap were arrested and temporarily detained in The Raft. It’s here where we will find Black Widow, physically and emotionally, and while visiting the UK set of the Black Widow movie back in 2019, Johansson explained to CinemaBlend why this was the ideal spot on the MCU timeline to stage this story. She said:

Natasha (has) always been a part of some operation and she’s had some safety net. I don’t know if ‘safety net’ is the best way to put it. She’s always been an operative, and she’s actually never really had to, for better or worse, had to make any decisions for herself. She’s made decisions, but she’s part of this greater whole -- and whether it was the Red Room or S.H.I.E.L.D. or The Avengers, she’s had this kind of family, for better or worse. And then after Civil War, it’s gone. It’s all gone. Everything is gone and she’s, for the first time ever, really just on her own. She could totally disappear into the ether, and probably, that would be that. She doesn’t have to return to anything, which is a pretty terrifying place to be when you’ve been attached to something for so long, and now you’re suddenly floating. Obviously, she’s very self-sufficient. She has connections everywhere. But she’s kind of on the lam. She’s feeling like a fugitive and it’s a really interesting place to start.

Scarlett Johansson is correct in that this move, at the very least, allows the actress to explore a facet of Natasha that hasn’t been present (or even necessary) due to the story development in the MCU. Even when she is introduced in Iron Man 2, Natasha is working for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and shortly after that, she finds herself as a founding member of The Avengers. That safety net that she speaks of has been available, and in Black Widow, it will be removed.

Or, replaced. Because we know that in Black Widow, we’ll meet Natasha’s crazy Russian family, which includes her sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) and her parents, played by Rachel Weisz and David Harbour. How will this dynamic help (or hinder) Natasha as she works to restore herself and heal the physical and psychological wounds that have been inflicted upon her? We will learn very soon, as Black Widow finally will be making its way to theaters as well as Disney+ Premier Access beginning on July 9. Tickets are on sale as we speak. And stay on CinemaBlend, as we’ll have even more insight from our Black Widow set visit on the site soon.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.