The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) kicks off its highly anticipated Phase Four slate of films with Black Widow on 9 July 2021.
Whether you’re a die-hard MCU fan or just getting into Marvel’s amazing cinematic universe, we have everything you want to know about the first standalone adventure for Scarlett Johansson's alpha-female Avenger.
Join us as we enter the Red Room and unravel the origins of Natasha Romanoff...
Having been delayed twice already due to global events, Black Widow is finally due for release in the UK on 9 July 2021.
This means it will arrive just over a year after its original release date, and eight months after its second release date of November 2020.
Black Widow is a prequel, and is set shortly after the events of Captain America: Civil War and before the S.H.I.E.L.D. top agent’s pivotal role in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
The new film follows Natasha Romanoff as she is forced to confront a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her dark and mysterious past as a Soviet-trained assassin and to a dangerous new enemy, call-sign Taskmaster, who is capable of mimicking his opponents’ combat styles with scary precision.
We can expect some of Romanoff’s previously murky past to be fleshed out in the film, and it could well be the last appearance for Scarlett Johansson in the MCU.
If you don’t know what we’re talking about, we urge you to watch Infinity War and Endgame back-to-back, before reading on...
It wouldn't be a Marvel film if we weren't getting a glut of new heroes to get to know. Thankfully, Black Widow delivers in spades with an entire team of new characters helping Natasha uncover her murky past.
Black Widow marks the eighth time Johansson has played the superspy, and the first time she has had the lead role in a standalone adventure.
It will also – SPOILERS! – presumably be the last time we see her after Natasha sacrificed herself to obtain the Soul Stone in Avengers: Endgame.
Yelena was raised in the same Cold War-era Red Room training programme as Natasha, and the two see each other as sisters.
It’s not been confirmed officially but it seems very likely that Belova will take up the mantle of the Black Widow over the course of the film, and Pugh is rumoured to appear in several upcoming Marvel projects, including the Hawkeye series currently filming for Disney+.
We don’t know a whole lot about Melina, played by the ever-brilliant Rachel Weisz.
Apart from the fact that she’s a mother figure to Natasha and Yelena, has been through the Red Room training program no less than five times, and (in the comics) went on to become a freelance mercenary under the alter ego, Iron Maiden.
Natasha’s father figure is also the Red Guardian, a Soviet-era hero featured prominently in the Marvel comics as a Russian equivalent of Captain America.
Shostakov is a flawed character struggling to live up to people’s expectations of him. David Harbour brings an appealing mixture of nobility and fallibility to the MCU’s Red Guardian. We can't wait to see how that frames this figure from Natasha's past.
Cate Shortland makes history as the first woman to direct a Marvel film on her own (2019’s Captain Marvel was co-directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck); if her track record with indie films like Lore and Berlin Syndrome is anything to go by, Natasha Romanoff is in very safe hands.
The character of Taskmaster has featured prominently in a variety of video games and animated series, but this is the first time we’ll get to see him strut his stuff on the big screen. It’s unclear at this point who’s underneath the mask, but we can certainly expect his mimic-based fighting style to give Black Widow and allies a run for their money.
A sticking point for many Endgame fans was the lack of a funeral for Natasha, and her farewell will be addressed in Black Widow. Director Cate Shortland has said that Scarlett Johansson didn’t want the character to have a funeral in the same way Tony Stark did, and apparently her exit here will be much more in-keeping with Natasha’s private, quiet personality.
We all know that Marvel movies belong on the big screen more than anywhere else, particularly with their superb action sequences. Here, the action seems to have been inspired by the viscerally exhilarating likes of Atomic Blonde (2017), John Wick (2014), and the Bourne series (2002-2016). Count us in.
The film is sure to kick off the MCU's eagerly-awaited Phase Four with a bang, but it’s also worth remembering that this will be the first Marvel film in nearly two years thanks to cinema closures in 2020. Based on how the film’s looking, we can’t think of a single better way to get back into the MCU.
There’s certainly a lot to enjoy from the sneak peeks of Black Widow that we have had so far.
Be sure to look out for Taskmaster’s amazing, adaptive combat style. He looks to be fairly faithful to the comics with photographic reflexes that allow him to mimic his opponents’ fighting styles, and eventually predict their movements.
In the two main trailers, we see him imitate Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Panther, and Black Widow herself, so he’s sure to be a worthy adversary for Natasha – whoever turns out to be under the mask…
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