It's been two years since we last had an entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the big screen but that drought will finally end when Black Widow arrives this weekend. Scarlett Johansson will return for one (final?) adventure as the titular Widow, and she'll officially launch Marvel's Phase Four theatrically. Up until now we've been limited to Marvel TV shows on Disney+. It will be a welcome return to the MCU for many fans, and hopefully a heroic swan song for one of our favorite Avengers.
Of course, one of the things that Marvel movies have always been good at is keeping fans guessing about what's coming next. Black Widow is set to be a prequel story, so we're not quite sure what the new film is going to have in store for us. With most of our questions about the future of the MCU, it seems unlikely a movie set in the past will reveal much, but it may fill in some gaps in the story. Either way, we still have a few questions we hope Black Widow will answer.
What Happened In The Red Room?
One of the more dark and sinister locations that has been referenced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the Red Room. This was the name of the place where Natasha Romanoff received her training as Black Widow. We know a few of the sordid details, like the fact that she was prevented from ever having children so that she wouldn't be able to form attachments, but the rest of the history of the location is very much shrouded in mystery.
Does the Red Room still exist? It would seem to. The trailers for Black Widow have shown us what appear to be more women going through the sort of training that Natasha likely did, but then why haven't we so much as heard about other Widows over the last decade of movies? What exactly was the training that Natasha went through? What other things was she subjected to? We know she turned her back on that training eventually, but was all of it done against her will, or did she volunteer? There's a lot of different places this story could go depending on just how dark it's willing to get.
What Happened To Black Widow's Real Family?
We see in the trailers for Black Widow that Natasha Romanoff will be reunited with something that at least resembles a family. She has people that she worked with when she was in Russia that looks like a nuclear family, and to some extent even acts that way. But it causes one to ask the simple question, what happened to Natasha Romanoff's real family?
In Avengers: Endgame Natasha says she didn't know her father's name was Ivan, which makes it clear she never knew him. It's not hard to imagine that she didn't know any of her biological family. Is that because the Red Room took her away, or did she end up in the Red Room because she didn't have a family? How much does Natasha know, if anything, about where she came from? If her past is a mystery to her, which seems likely, will she learn the truth in the new movie?
Will We Learn What Happened In Budapest?
In The Avengers a conversation between Black Widow and Hawkeye during the invasion makes reference to an event that took place at some point in the past in Budapest. It's a throwaway line, mostly there for a joke, but ever since fans have wondered just what did happen there? Will Black Widow finally give us the answer?
Maybe what happened in Budapest is vital to the plot of the Black Widow movie. Maybe it will turn out to be something inconsequential. But if this truly is the last time we will see Scarlett Johansson in the MCU, it would be fitting to answer this question in some way in the film. If we don't get an answer now, we may never learn what happened there.
Is Taskmaster’s Identity Important?
One of the big question's that fans have been playing with in the year we've had to wait for Black Widow regards the identity of the film's villain, Taskmaster. In the comics Taskmaster is able to copy the fighting moves of anybody he watches, and we've seen in the trailers that he's been studying up on the Avengers, throwing a shield like Captain America and using a bow like Hawkeye.
There are plenty of theories about who Taskmaster could be, but I'm going to come at the question from a slightly different angle, does it matter? Maybe Taskmaster will turn out to be some important character from Black Widow's past, maybe even somebody we've already met in the MCU, but that's not the only possibility. We almost certainly will learn who Taskmaster is at some point in Black Widow, but when we learn the answer, will it send a shockwave through the MCU, or will it be not big deal, because it's ultimately just not that important?
Will Black Widow Have Lasting Consequences For The MCU?
Black Widow isn't the first "prequel" we've seen in the MCU. It's not the first time that the clock has been turned backward rather than simply looking forward to the next chapter. If you're trying to watch the Marvel movies in order, release dates don't really help anymore. However, it is the first time we've seen that with a character whose ultimate fate we already know. Whatever ends up happening in Black Widow will almost certainly help flesh out the character of Natasha Romanoff, but what it won't do is change what happens to her.
Which makes one wonder where the MCU story will go from here. The best Marvel movies tend to be the ones that get us just as excited for the next one as they have us satisfied with the film we just saw. When Iron Man started the MCU, it also introduced the Avenger Initiative, which took us to where Phase One would end. Phase Three opened with Captain America: Civil War, which set the stage for everything that would come after for the Avengers. Will Black Widow really get the ball rolling on what the next big story will be, will it give us the first piece of a bigger picture, or will the fact that this movie is set prior to Endgame really mean that it "doesn't matter" in the larger scale of things?
Of course, the biggest single question may simply be. Will we ever see Black Widow again? This is very likely the end of Scarlett Johansson's tenure in the MCU. Perhaps we'll see a "new" Black Widow take her place. Perhaps the franchise will simply move on into entirely new places. If this is the end. Hopefully it's a fitting send off.