Black Widow is set to kick-off Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe this November. Originally set to debut last May, the 2020 flick is set to fill in the gaps of Natasha's past while also shedding some light on her choices during Avengers: Endgame.
The trailers for Black Widow already teased that the film will dig deep into her relationship with her family members from the Red Room. Despite that, plot details are still being kept under wraps, but the chatter surrounding the film suggests that Florence Pugh's Yelena Bolova will play a larger role in the future of the billion-dollar franchise. And now, a new interview has surfaced which may have confirmed the character's significance in the MCU moving forward.
In an interview with Empire, Black Widow director Cate Shortland revealed that the Phase 4 entry will "propel another female storyline" with Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff "handing the baton" to Pugh's Yelena Belova:
“[Kevin Feige] realised that the audience would expect an origin story so, of course, we went in the opposite direction. And we didn't know how great Florence Pugh would be. We knew she would be great, but we didn't know how great. Scarlett is so gracious, like, ‘Oh, I'm handing her the baton.' So it's going to propel another female storyline.”
More so, Shortland also explained that Natasha is a type of character that "wouldn't have wanted a funeral" while also diving into how the film will serve as "a fitting ending" to Romanoff's arc in the MCU:
“In Endgame, the fans were upset that Natasha did not have a funeral. Whereas Scarlett, when I spoke to her about it, said Natasha wouldn't have wanted a funeral,” explains Shortland. “She's too private, and anyway, people don't really know who she is. So what we did in this film was allow the ending to be the grief the individuals felt, rather than a big public outpouring. I think that's a fitting ending for her.”
WHAT THIS MEANS
In a way, Shortland's comments about the major transition of the Black Widow persona from one character to another seem to align with the overall theme of MCU's Phase 4: Legacy. The next wave of MCU films will see original members of the Avengers mentoring new heroes to potentially take their place in the world. This list includes Hawkeye and Kate Bishop, Bruce Banner and She-Hulk, and Thor and Jane Foster's Mighty Thor.
At this point, it's clear that Black Widow will lay the groundwork for new stories for Yelena in the MCU while also showing Romanoff's stamp of approval for the character to take her place. On a plot level, the transition makes sense since Romanoff has been on the run from the government due to the Sokovia Accords, and she fully acknowledges the risk of it all. By handing over the reins to Yelena, this could potentially explain why Romanoff was willing to die during Endgame since she knew that the Black Widow persona will live on.
Not much is known about Yelena's arc in Black Widow, but the significance of her character has been widely discussed by most fans. It's anybody's guess if Yelena will follow the footsteps of her predecessor by joining the next crop of Avengers or if she will ultimately become a major part of the long-rumored Thunderbolts series. Whatever the case, Pugh's involvement in the future of the MCU should serve as a notable addition to the evolving superhero franchise.