Black Widow is set to showcase the first solo adventure of Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff, but it will also supposedly mark the final run of the character in the MCU.
Directed by Cate Shortland, the upcoming prequel will be set in between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, a time when Romanoff was on the run due to the Sokovia Accords.
Marketing for the film has revealed that the Avenger's current status will ultimately lead to an unexpected reunion with her Russian family. They will join forces to take down the Red Room, but the arrival of the mysterious and dangerous Taskmaster spells trouble for the team.
Similar to the first batch of Marvel films under the Phase 4 banner, Black Widow had its fair share of delays, but a new report suggests that this development had no effect on the film's core storyline and place in the larger MCU.
MARVEL DIDN'T TOUCH BLACK WIDOW IN THE PAST YEAR
In an interview, Black Widow director Cate Shortland told Empire that the MCU prequel has been fully furnished– and untouched — for a year now, confirming that it is just waiting to be shared with audiences.
This latest reveal from Shortland could suggest that the shifting release dates of the MCU's stacked Phase 4 slate didn't affect the Scarlett Johansson-led project.
BLACK WIDOW'S PLACE IN THE PHASE 4 TIMELINE
Black Widow was initially planned to kick off MCU's Phase 4, but the pandemic derailed that plan. This development led to multiple delays for the Marvel film, including a back-and-forth on its release strategy.
Black Widow finally settled on a July 2021 release timeline combined with the confirmation that it will have a hybrid release on Disney+ and in theaters.
Despite the release date shenanigans, speculation became rampant about the film's impact on the current slate of projects, especially after the interconnected nature of the MCU.
During the film's first delay in 2020, Variety shared in a report that pushing the release date of Black Widow would not affect the MCU timeline. Now, this latest report echoes Cate Shortland's statement, thus cementing the project as its own standalone prequel.
Interestingly, a previous report from Vanity Fair claimed that Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Valentina Allegra de Fontaine was supposed to debut in Black Widow. Shortland's comment could debunk those claims, but there's always a chance that Val could show up in a post-credits scene since those sequences are added in later parts of post-production.
At this stage, it looks like the main purpose of Black Widow is to serve as a special tribute to Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff, establishing her legacy in the MCU through a confined story that showcases her unfinished business.
This is on top of passing the torch to Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova, a character that is poised to continue the Black Widow mantle in Phase 4 and beyond.
It's no secret that the MCU's plans are ever-changing, but it seems that Black Widow falls under a rare category: a project to simply say a heartfelt goodbye to a beloved Avenger.
Black Widow premieres on Disney+ and in theaters on July 9, 2021.