Black Widow

With Scarlett Johansson reprising her role as the former KGB assassin turned SHIELD agent, Black Widow is one of the most eagerly awaited movies of 2020. Olivia Buckley reports.

In 2010, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was still in its infancy. The imminently sprawling film empire had just three releases under its belt, with its most recent venture Iron Man 2 opening to undeservedly lukewarm praise. Nevertheless, the film served to plant the seeds of possibility for its studio’s future, one of the most significant being the introduction of the character of Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow – a formidably capable former Russian assassin turned S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and soon-to-be Avenger.

Fast forward nine years, and Scarlett Johansson’s character is finally leading her own solo film. Alongside Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, Black Widow is the only original Avenger to have not yet had an individual venture. The likes of Iron Man, Captain America and Thor were treated to multiple film outings, with more still to come for Thor, while Hawkeye will soon have his own show on Disney’s new streaming platform Disney+.

Given the character (spoiler alert) sacrificed her life to save the universe in Avengers: Endgame, it might seem a curious choice to release the film now. It’s certainly disheartening that the studio has taken the best part of a decade to invest in the sole female Avenger’s story, and despite being its 24th film, Black Widow is only the MCU’s second female-led project after Captain Marvel. Director Cate Shortland also joins the MCU as only its second female director, and the first to direct solo.

Still, it’s better late than never, and the film can only benefit from Johansson’s decade-long familiarity with its protagonist. Marvel’s workaround for the little issue of Romanoff being dead is to head back in time: the events of Black Widow are to take place somewhere between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War and will take the character back yet further by forcing her to confront her brutal past.

In true Marvel style, secrecy abounds and little more than this has been revealed, even with the emergence of a first teaser trailer. What the trailer lacks in plot substance, however, it certainly makes up for in adrenaline, and with a roaring score somewhat reminiscent of Daniel Pemberton’s blood-pumping Prowler theme from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, it throws us into Natasha’s old life of espionage previously only seen in snatched glimpses throughout Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Joining Johansson’s Romanoff as she goes on the run and returns to her roots are fellow assassins Yelena (Florence Pugh, Midsommar) and Melina (Rachel Weisz, The Favourite), as well as Russia’s answer to Captain America, Red Guardian (David Harbour, Stranger Things). Taskmaster, a usually villainous character with the ability to replicate physical movement instantaneously, is also sure to play a bigger role in the film than his fleeting trailer presence would suggest.

Many are dismissing Black Widow as little more than a money grab for Marvel and its parent company Disney, but Johansson has long made it clear she wouldn’t do a standalone film unless she really felt it would contribute something valuable to the character’s overall arc. Plus, signs point to it being closest in style and substance to Captain America: Winter Soldier, one of the studio’s most critically acclaimed endeavours that was more an espionage thriller than a traditional superhero blockbuster – so even if you’re fatigued by the genre, it might be worth giving this one the benefit of the doubt. And if, like me, you still can’t get enough, then hold on tight: Black Widow will launch phase four of the MCU, with five films due to follow it by the end of 2021.

Black Widow was scheduled to be released on the 1st of May 2020 in the UK. However, due to the Coronavirus Crisis, the film has been postponed. We will bring you the new release date when we have it. 

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-London's Best Movies-
What: new cinema release
When: tbc
Where: everywhere
Website: Black Widow