Fans have been looking forward to a Black Widow movie for a long time. Natasha Romanoff is one of the few original Avengers who has not received a solo film, but after multiple pandemic-induced delays, her time has finally arrived.
Scarlett Johansson will return in Black Widow for her eighth round as the titular hero which will see her reunite with her family in Russia. Some new faces include Florence Pugh's Yelena, David Harbour's Red Guardian, and Rachel Weisz's Melina along with the mysterious comic book villain, Taskmaster.
Black Widow will kick off the MCU's fourth phase by taking audiences back to the era of Captain America: Civil War, which will fill in some of the gaps in Romanoff's timeline.
THE PRESSURES OF MAKING BLACK WIDOW
Johansson told Total Film that there had to be a reason for her to lead her own solo film:
"Is there something exciting to do creatively as an actor? Are we going to be able to make something extraordinary and strong? And something that stands on its own?"
The actress said that choosing the time period after the Avengers fallout in Captain America: Civil War provided an opportunity to show Black Widow when she's "off her game."
"It gave us the opportunity to really show her when she's kind of off her game, you know? Because of that, anything was possible."
Johansson was involved in Black Widow's development as early as script meetings and said one of the most stressful parts was mapping out Romanoff's origins:
"You're trying to map out all of this... which is actually extremely stressful. Because there's no guidelines."
When Cate Shortland came aboard as director she said Marvel really gave her the creative freedom to make a "character-driven movie."
"They allowed me to be myself, and they encouraged me to make a movie that I was passionate about. We were allowed to be really nuanced, and to make a character-driven movie."
THE RED ON BLACK WIDOW'S LEDGER
So many questions have developed during Natasha Romanoff's time in the MCU. How did she come to work for SHIELD? What is the red on her ledger? And what happened in Budapest?
With such big questions to answer, it's no wonder Johansson and Shortland felt the pressure. Choosing to take a character-driven approach in the time period after Civil War looks to be a great starting point to dig into all facets of Black Widow, including who she is as an Avenger and how she came to be there. But with a lot of Black Widow's timeline already fleshed out in other movies, including her death, it couldn't have been easy.
Marvel Studios' faith in hiring interesting directors may have paid off here. Like Ryan Coogler did for Black Panther and Chloe Zhao is doing for Eternals, bringing in directors with creative styles and unique experiences has helped to define and diversify the movies in the MCU.
Cate Shortland's experience with deeply character-driven indie films like Somersault should be exactly what is needed to answer some intriguing questions around a mysterious character like Black Widow.