Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Black Widow Will Blow You Away

Natasha Romanoff has been a central figure in the MCU for years. She shows up early in the Infinity Saga, way back in Iron Man 2. Between then and Avengers: Endgame, she becomes a major player on the world stageThough the former spy meets her untimely demise in Endgame, she certainly had a good run. In fact, the only major characters to have more on-screen appearances than Black Widow during that stretch are Iron Man, Captain American, and the venerable Nick Fury.

And yet, despite those many appearances, in which she unifies heroes, topples countless foes, and literally saves the universe, Nat still had to wait until the opening salvo of Phase 4 to finally get her own film. Heavily delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Widow remains poised to kick off the new, post-Thanos era of the MCU. The question is, will this film, which fans have eagerly anticipated for so long, live up to the hype when it finally, belatedly, at long last, is released? We would like to offer the official Looper stance on this question: yes. Here's why.

Duh, it's Marvel

First thing's first, we're talking about a Marvel film here. And we're not talking about one from two decades ago, when "Marvel movie" sometimes meant "Nic Cage in Ghost Rider." Not every MCU production is equally beloved, but they are all instant hits. Take the last few years as an example. Sure, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame soaked up the bulk of attention. But only a fool would call the other MCU films released during this span literally anything but culture-defining blockbusters. We're talking Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and even Ant-Man and the Wasp: They all still managed to soar at the box office. Seriously, Scott Lang's sequel brought in the smallest total of the bunch — a measly 623 mil. How's that for pocket change? Every other film cracked the billion-dollar mark and the two Avengers flicks went on to break two billion.

The point? This is a Marvel film coming out of the Kevin-Feige-powered, Disney-backed Marvel Studios that has dominated the entire movie market for the last decade. You can bet your bottom dollar that this thing is going to be good.

It's about time

While there are plenty of reasons Black Widow is likely to be a killer movie, one of the most compelling reasons the film will do well is simply that it's taken freaking forever to finally be released. With a pandemic gripping the globe rumors that the film would be delayed first hit the internet in March 2020. Those fearful whispers quickly proved true when the initial release date was shifted six months out.

As the shocking news settled in, fans slowly adjusted to the thought of hanging on for six more long months. But then the bad times just kept on rolling. In mid-September, with no sign in sight of the pandemic slowing down, more rumors began to percolate that Black Widow could be bumped a second time. Yet again, one short week later, it was revealed that the movie wouldn't find its way to theaters until May 7th of 2021.

May 7th, folks. That's a full year and change after the initial release date. Suffice it to say, when this exhausted eagle finally lands, everyone is going to be about as amped up as possible to don a facemask and scuttle off to the nearest theater on opening weekend.

Moving forward into the past

If you had to choose a single word for why Black Widow will impress, the best candidate would probably be "nostalgia." Marvel Studios has made it abundantly clear at this point that Nat's first stand-alone film isn't going to blaze a trail into the future. Rather, it will start with a good, hard look into the past. The bulk of the film promises to focus on Black Widow's time in political exile between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War — you know, after she pulls the ol' switcheroo and joins Team Cap at the last second during the airport battle in Germany.

There's little doubt that getting a chance to see Natasha expunge that red from her ledger in her own adventure is going to be fun, regardless of how it plays out. However, the fact that the entire story will also function as a look back into the heart of the Infinity Saga is sure to help it cut to the quick. Whether it's closely connected to the rest of the Avengers' storylines or is a fully stand-alone episode in which Nat steps out of "Avengers mode" to address the past, there's no doubt that wallowing in a little Infinity Saga nostalgia is going to make the whole experience that. much. better.

The tip of the iceberg

Black Widow won't just tell its own story: It will offer the first glimpse of the MCU to come. Nat's solo film will be the first time we get to see a story told post-Thanos' demise — barring, of course, the Endgame coda that is Spider-Man: Far From Home. It'll be interesting to see how the studio manages to tell a story from the past in order to usher in the future, and just what that future will be.

While the movie will doubtless speak for itself, the question of how to address the future with the past has already been partly answered by none other than Kevin Feige himself. In an interview with io9, the Marvel mastermind pointed out that "there's a method to the madness" — a notion he's certainly proven true, by this point. Feige continued to explain that prequels can answer questions viewers didn't necessarily have, and that "there are ways to do prequels where you learn all sorts of things you never knew before."

The Marvel boss compared Black Widow to AMC's smash-hit prequel Better Call Saul, which masterfully leaps back in time to follow a character whose fate fans already know. Suffice it to say that, based on Feige's hints, this movie's going to be chock-full of side stories and factoids that'll help us further understand a cinematic universe we already love.

Winter Soldier vibes

Avengers: Endgame tossed time travel into the Marvel mix and managed to make a huge universe even bigger. Over half of Phase 3 was either multidimensional, intergalactic, or both. The more down-to-earth Spider-Man: Far From Home feels a little like a breather from the universe-sized action that has been going on in the MCU, pretty much nonstop, for three straight years. And even then, a lot of it deals with the fact that a bunch of Peter's classmates "blipped" temporarily into nonexistence.

Enter Black Widow. If promotional material has told us anything, it's that Black Widow is leaning away from universe-sized action and back into the more geographically restrained settings of films like the Iron Man trilogy or Spider-Man: Homecoming. If there's one film that the movie appears to be the most closely aligned with, though, it has to be Captain America: Winter Soldier.

The first Russo-helmed foray into the MCU is an extremely popular installment, near and dear to many fans' hearts. Its down-to-earth grit, impressively choreographed action sequences, focus on the past, and more-or-less believable plot make Winter Soldier a gem in an MCU that has become increasingly drawn towards things like multiple dimensions and outer space. If Black Widow manages to capture some of those Winter Soldier vibes — which seems likely from the trailers thus far — then you can bet that this one's gonna be an earth-bound barnburner for sure.

Connecting the dots

Of all the Avengers, Natasha Romanoff is the most mysterious. Over the course of the Infinity Saga, we don't get much more than veiled hints at her strange past. She mutters that she's "got red in [her] ledger," indicating a life spent on the run, doing dirty deeds, but we never truly find out what they were. Even her time in S.H.I.E.L.D. is marked by significant secrecy and stealthy planning.

This storytelling territory is where Black Widow has a chance to shine. Take, for instance, the Red Room. A decent portion of this dark chapter of Nat's past is shown in a flashback in Avengers: Age of Ultron. We see Romanoff being simultaneously trained to be a ballerina and an assassin. She avoids the sterilizing "graduation" process for a time, but eventually kills a human victim, is operated on, and becomes a certified Red Room alumnus. This haunting past is certainly going to play a big role in Black Widow's solo film. Most of the revealed characters are already well-known for having a comic book connection to the Red Room. The chance to finally fill in missing information and connect some of the dots in Nat's past will doubtlessly provide audiences with jaw-dropping reveals and emotional climaxes.

A tale of two families

Natasha Romanoff spends the bulk of the first three phases of the MCU creating a new family in the quirky, misfit form of the Avengers. This isn't just a fun hobby or a passing interest, either. It's a lot of what leads to her heroics in Endgame, in which she makes the sacrifice play to restore half of the universe.

While this devotion to her new family is nice, apparently it isn't the first time the Avenger has attempted to build a family post-Red Room training. Throughout the promotional material for Black Widow — and in one trailer in particular — a past "family" of super-spies comes up more than once. We see Yelena Belova, Melina Vostokoff, and Alexei Shostakov reuniting with Natasha at various points, with a specific scene of the four gathered around the dinner table surfacing in multiple pieces of marketing content.

These glimpses of a past family leave a lot of unanswered questions. Does Nat lose this family during the film? Do they betray her? Do they eventually get snapped away by Thanos? Are they actually just fine somewhere off screen? By introducing a whole new batch of emotionally intimate connections, Marvel seems to be setting up some good old-fashioned family drama for an already exciting film.

One, two, three cameos?

With Black Widow focusing on the events of the past, fans are hotly speculating who might show up. Sure enough, there have been quite a few rumors about various cameos and crossovers. Any of these could, if done right, instantly take the film from being a fun, independent story to an awesome thread in the larger MCU fabric.

For instance, practically since day one, it's been rumored that none other than the deceased Tony Stark could show up, even if it's just with unused footage from past films. Steve Rogers, the  Falcon, and Scarlet Witch are all possible candidates, too, as they are intimately connected to Natasha at this point. Hawkeye is another likely candidate since his story is intertwined with Nat's from day one. The pair go back to Budapest and beyond and they literally walk, sometimes hand-in-hand, through the rest of the Infinity Saga together. Thunderbolt Ross has already been confirmed to make an appearance via a quick glimpse in one of the trailers, and it has even been gossiped that the San Francisco crime lord Sonny Burch could pop in at some point along the way. Perhaps the most likely option for a cameo, though, has got to be Nick Fury, because, well, the dude's in everything. Regardless of the specifics, a good cameo or two will definitely elevate the film as it goes along.

Another good villain may be in play

The MCU has had its fair share of so-so villains — think Whiplash, Emil Blonsky, Malekith — as well as plenty of high-quality killers, like Loki, Killmonger, and Thanos. When it comes to Black Widow, it appears that we're likely to add to the latter group. 

For a long time now, it's been known that Nat's primary opponent in her first solo flick is the fearsome Taskmaster. This fella is known for his photographic reflexes, which can mimic any style of fighting. Promotional footage has shown him fighting like Black Panther, Captain America, Clint Barton, and Romanoff herself. He's set up to be, hands down, one of the most intimidating villains to date. If he doesn't fizzle on screen, there's no doubt he'll add a lot of mojo to a movie that already appears to be packed with action.

On top of having a new villain in play, it's already been confirmed that Thunderbolt Ross will be involved in the story. In fact, the character has already been shown in promotional footage, where Ross actor William Hurt can be seen in all his digitally-enhanced younger glory. The presence of Ross has sparked rumors that the movie will set up the future of the MCU through the character's transformation into Red Hulk, in turn opening the door to the formation of the anti-hero team known as the Thunderbolts. Only time will tell.

A new Black Widow?

Yet another way the Black Widow movie could blow some minds would be if it set the stage for the return of Black Widow. No, we're not talking about Natasha Romanoff here — we're talking about her super-spy compatriot, Yelena Belova. The two characters have been strongly spun as "sisters" throughout the promotional material for the movie, and their comic book past reveals them to be Red Room graduates, both trained to don the mantle of Black Widow at different times.

The question is, if a passing of the torch were to happen, would Yelena somehow step into her big sister's shoes during the story, providing the MCU with two Black Widows until Romanoff's passing several years later? Or would she be left in a holding pattern, waiting to step back into the spotlight after news of Nat's sacrifice reaches her in the future? Either way, actively setting up a successor for Nat in her own solo film would be a bold and exciting move, considering the fact that everyone knows what happens to Romanoff less than a decade later.

Is Nat still alive?

The Black Widow film could be all sorts of entertaining if it takes the time to set up Yelena Belova as a successor to the Black Widow mantle. However, there's another way to handle the Natasha/Yelena question that would absolutely blow everyone's minds. What if the Black Widow film reveals that Natasha Romanoff is still alive after Endgame?

Reaching this wild line of reasoning requires a visit to the vast vaults of fan theory-dom. In these dark recesses, we've found three different theories that postulate how Nat could actually be brought back from her Endgame death, via her own film. The first one suggests that when Cap returned the Soul Stone to Vormir, she actually came back to life during the exchange. The second one suggests that Smart Hulk actually did bring her back when he snapped, and just doesn't know it. The third one goes way out on a limb and suggests that it's actually Yelena who sacrifices herself in Endgame while wearing the facemask tech that Nat uses in Captain America: Winter Soldier.

All three theories are as possible as they are unlikely. One thing's for sure, though: If it's revealed that Black Widow is still alive and kicking after Endgame, fans are gonna flip.