Marvel Cinematic Universe fans have been clamouring for a Black Widow solo movie since the former Soviet super-spy first appeared in 2010’s Iron Man 2.
And now, as part of Marvel’s Phase 4, it’s finally here...
Meet the characters helping Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff as she confronts her murky past, then catch up on everything we know so far about this high-octane prequel...
Scarlett Johansson is one of the most sought-after actresses working in Hollywood. Shooting to fame in 1998’s The Horse Whisperer, she cemented her status as the movie world’s next big thing in Sofia Coppola’s 2003 hit Lost In Translation.
In 2019 she has appeared in Avengers: Endgame, Jojo Rabbit and Marriage Story, the latter two of which she was Oscar-nominated for. She is one of only 12 actors to have been nominated for two acting Oscars in a single year.
First seen in Iron Man 2, Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow) is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and founding Avenger. Born in the Soviet Union, she was trained as a super-spy/assassin in the notorious Red Room.
A martial arts expert, she is smart and resourceful, with incredible strength and stamina, while her famous Widow’s Bite bracelets unleash powerful electronic charges.
This solo prequel sees her facing up to a dark past during the period between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.
If Scarlett Johansson was the movie world’s next big thing in 2003 then Florence Pugh holds that same status right now.
She was superb as fiery WWE fighter Saraya Knight in Fighting With My Family, formidable as Dani in the utterly terrifying Midsommar and was Oscar nominated for her role as Amy March in Greta Gerwig’s wonderful Little Women.
The Black Widow movie should see her star hit the stratosphere.
Like Natasha, Yelena Belova is a Black Widow who was trained in Russia’s mysterious Red Room. Natasha refers to her as “sis” but the two are related in traumatic upbringing only.
Like Natasha she is a super-spy and elite assassin, versed in ballet, martial arts and… death.
Most of us will know David Harbour as loveable, chain-smoking sheriff Jim Hopper from Netflix’s 2016-to-present, 80s-smash Stranger Things.
Black Widow isn’t the actor’s first foray into the comic-book world.
He played Dexter Tolliver in DC’s 2016 action ensemble Suicide Squad and the shorn-horned demon of the title in 2019’s Hellboy reboot.
Alexei Shostakov is the Russian equivalent of Captain America, albeit without the superpowers.
Underestimate him at your peril, though. Like Natasha and Yelena, this super-soldier was trained to be an elite weapon for the Soviet Union, and even though time has seen him bulk out a little (“You got fat!” deadpans Melina in the trailer), he’s still capable of packing an almighty punch.
One of our best-loved and most successful actresses, London-born Rachel Weisz won an Oscar for her wonderful performance as Tessa Quayle in the 2006 mystery drama The Constant Gardner, and was nominated again in 2018 for her full-blooded turn as Lady Sarah in The Favourite.
A quick-fire fact to finish off with: Weisz is married to current James Bond actor, Daniel Craig.
Like Natasha and Yelena, Melina is a Black Widow, with the master assassin skills to match. In the trailer, Alexei refers to Yelena, Natasha and Melina as “family”, but we should be wary.
Melina and Natasha are deadly enemies in the comics, where she’s also known as Iron Maiden, and there’s definitely more to her character in this film than meets the eye.
Said Weisz mysteriously during San Diego Comic-Con: “Melina has been cycled through the Black Widow Red Room programme five times by the time the film starts.”
The question is why?
The MCU’s Phase 4 kicks off in cinemas with Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow returning for a prequel solo adventure that delves into the Avenger’s prehistory as a Soviet assassin.
On the run after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Natasha Romanoff seeks out old friends to help her confront a past that seems hell-bent on making her pay for old sins.
Black Widow release date (UK) is 9 July 2021
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