Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is the most prolific female heroine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and has appeared in a number of its films.
First appearing in a small role in Iron Man 2, the character achieved great popularity following her major turns in Avengers Assemble and then Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
In recent years, Black Widow has continued to play a major role in the Avengers line-up, appearing in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Scarlett Johansson also appears in Avengers: Endgame.
It has been long-speculated and hoped for that the MCU would produce a solo entry for the flexible Russian spy, but as time has gone on this has not come into fruition…until now.
With the film now in active development and writing stages, Mirror Online breaks down all we know about the Widow spinning her own web…
Black Widow UK release date
At this point no release date has been confirmed, but multiple sources are rumouring it to be released in 2020 (so we have a bit of a wait).
Black Widow director
Australian director Cate Shortland has been confirmed to be directing the film.
Black Widow filming
The film began filming in Norway at the end of May 2019, with Scarlet Johansson spotted on set by paparazzi.
Who is writing the script?
Female screenwriter Jac Schaeffer has been hired by Marvel to pen the script for the film. Despite few notable credits apart from Nasty Women, Schaeffer is quite highly-regarded within the industry.
Schaeffer reportedly wants to work closely on the story with Scarlett Johansson, who will produce the film.
Black Widow cast
Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff
ScarJo is confirmed to return and stated to Ellen DeGeneres that “the only way to do it would be if it were something that we’ve never seen before that was really groundbreaking and incredibly badass”.
Johansson hopes to tap into the character’s bleak backstory (glimpsed in Avengers: Age of Ultron), and the more morally grey decisions she has had to make in the past.
She will also produce on the film.
Florence Pugh as TBC
The British rising star has been cast as the second female lead, described as Natasha’s “moral opposite”.
Many think she will portray Yelena Belova, a fellow Black Widow from the comics.
David Harbour as TBC
The Stranger Things star will play an undisclosed role in the film.
Rachel Weisz as TBC
The Oscar-winning star of The Favourite looks set to appear in the film.
O-T Fagbenle as TBC
The Handmaid’s Tale star is said to be appearing in an unknown role.
The film is also looking to cast a main male villain, alongside a female and a male supporting roles for CIA operatives.
Moonlight star Andre Holland is under consideration for the villain.
The latest reports suggest that the main villain that Holland could play would be the classic Marvel Comics villain Taskmaster.
Who might be in it?
There have been a number of rumoured co-stars for Johansson in her solo film.
It has been rumoured, and advocated by the man himself, that Sebastian Stan will reprise his role as James “Bucky” Barnes in the film, but whether this would be as the Winter Soldier, White Wolf, or some other codename is unknown. The characters certainly have a complex history in the comics of him training her, fighting side by side, and also romance.
Anthony Mackie has voiced hopes of appearing as Falcon/Sam Wilson , telling Hitflix , “I think Black Widow needs a little bit of aerial support!”.
We aren’t sure how likely this is if it is a prequel, however.
Romanoff also has rich connections with other major Avengers.
In her MCU backstory, her closest friend is Hawkeye/Clint Barton , as they shared many missions together and she is close to his family too, so perhaps Jeremy Renner may return here as the expert archer.
We also wouldn’t be surprised if S.H.I.E.L.D. heavyweights such as Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Maria Hill(Cobie Smulders), and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) also put in an appearance.
Additionally, Avengers: Age of Ultron also introduced a face from Black Widow’s past in Madame B. , played by acclaimed French actress Julie Delpy. The scenes showed her as a teacher at a spy academy, with her brutal schooling of Natasha including psychological mind games and some dark procedures. It would make sense for Delpy to have some kind of appearance in this film.
What’s the plot?
At this point, no plot has been confirmed or any synopsis released.
It is rumoured that this Black Widow film will be a prequel to her previous appearances, set at the end of the Cold War, and will feature her facing off with the Winter Soldier.
Production Weekly leaked this potential plot synopsis which gives us some idea…
At birth the Black Widow (aka Natasha Romanova) is given to the KGB, which grooms her to become its ultimate operative. When the U.S.S.R. breaks up, the government tries to kill her as the action moves to present-day New York, where she is a freelance operative. The standalone film will find Romanoff living in the United States 15 years after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Sounds exciting enough already, but there have also been rumours of the infamous Y2K bug playing a role in the film.
Another new rumour has suggested that the film will be set after the events of Captain America: Civil War but before the events of Avengers: Infinity War.
Regardless of setting, Marvel producer Kevin Feige has stated to Deadline that “We think she’s an amazing character. We think Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of her is amazing. She’s a lead Avenger and has amazing stories in her own right to tell that we think would be fun to turn into a standalone franchise“.
Theories and speculation
- It will be a Black Widow origin film. It is highly likely that the film will explore Romanoff’s murky backstory, including her training at the Red Room Academy and torture there (this and her sterilisation were briefly depicted in Age of Ultron when Scarlet Witch forced Natasha to remember her past while attacking the Avengers). The film could show how she was drawn into the espionage world in Russia and her time as an assassin. This could be used through more extensive flashbacks rather than just simply as a prequel, with the past coming back to haunt her.
- We will meet the OTHER Black Widow. In the comics there is another major Black Widow, Yelena Belova, who was trained in the same Red Room as Natasha and chosen as her successor for Russian Intelligence’s prime spy and assassin. The ambitious and patriotic Belova was often put at odds with Natasha, who would mock her and play psychological games with her to force her to confront her demons and what the Red Room did to her. Belova has since worked with S.H.I.E.L.D. and also their enemies HYDRA. We think this would be a fascinating relationship to explore, based on shared experience and female rivalry, along with a potential friendship. Scarlett Johansson sports a similar look to Yelena in Infinity War, and an earlier graduate of the Red Room Academy known as Dottie Underwood appeared in the Agent Carter television series. Florence Pugh’s casting is encouraging for this.
- We will meet Natasha’s surrogate father and perhaps even her husband! In the comics, in addition to her experiences in the Black Widow programme, Natasha was raised by Ivan Petrovich after she was given to him by her mother who later died, causing Petrovich to raise the orphan as a surrogate father and later become her chauffeur and confidante. Her father’s name of “Ivan” was mentioned in Avengers: Endgame, adding to the possibility of an appearance here. Additionally, the Soviets had a Captain America equivalent in Red Guardian/Alexei Shostakov, who Natasha was forced by her spy agency to marry before being trained separately. Shostakov would later plot his wife’s downfall following her defection to S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers. We think Petrovich is more likely than Shostakov for the first film though.