Black Widow has been a long time coming. The first instalment of Marvel Phase 4 was originally due to be released in mid-2020, but a series of delays has pushed it all the way back to May 2021 – although whether it’ll get a cinema debut, Disney Plus premiere, or a hybrid release is still anyone’s guess. Nothing can dampen our excitement for Natasha Romanoff’s standalone movie, though.
We’ve done the research and put together everything you need to know about the Scarlett Johansson-led adventure in time for its upcoming release. We’ve delved into rumoured cameos, cool little Easter eggs hidden in the trailer, the low-down on the movie’s villain, Taskmaster, and much, much more. We’ve even analysed the MCU timeline to see exactly where Nat’s escapades fit into the wider Marvel universe. So, read on to find out everything we can expect from the Black Widow movie.
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Black Widow movie release date: more delays
It's all change on the schedule front. Originally touted for May 1, cinemas closing due to COVID-19 forced Marvel's hand on more than one occasion. The Black Widow release date was pushed back to November 6, 2020 but it's now set for May 7, 2021.
As of writing, though, it's Black Widow is coming to cinemas. Despite a recent report from Deadline suggesting that the first Phase 4 movie coming to Disney Plus at launch is not a possibility, the pandemic isn't going anywhere. According to Variety, there have been talks about giving Black Widow a hybrid release in cinemas and on Disney Plus through Premiere Access – this means there will be an extra charge on top of the subscription fee. Nothing has been confirmed yet, though.
Black Widow movie cast
Scarlett Johansson, inevitably, is back at Natasha Romanoff. After all, how could it be a Black Widow movie without her? But she isn’t coming alone.
Joining her in the Black Widow movie cast is Midsommar lead Florence Pugh as Yelena, another member of the Black Widow training program. Pugh describes her character as “like a sister” to Natasha, though, as we’ll soon discover, there’s plenty of bad blood between the two. Pugh will also return to the MCU in the Hawkeye series, indicating she has a serious future under the Marvel Studios umbrella.
Rachel Weisz, meanwhile, is yet another new Black Widow on the block, playing Melina Vostokoff. Possible spoilers here, but that's not all she's known as in the comics. There, she goes under the guise of the villainous Iron Maiden, who unleashed a lot of pent-up anger at Nat.
Perhaps the hottest commodity joining the cast is Stranger Things’ David Harbour. Here, though, he’s switching his police hat for a big-ass shield as he’ll be playing Alexi, otherwise known in the comics as the Red Guardian. As shown by the trailer, he even gets an ill-fitting suit to squeeze into and even throws hands at few masked enemies.
As for the main villain of the piece: Taskmaster is in the movie, and they're revealed to be in control of the Red Room, the birthplace of the Black Widows. No word on casting yet, though it’s been revealed that Natasha will be facing off against the villain who recently made an (irritating) series of appearances in the Spider-Man PS4 game.
Elsewhere, British acting legend Ray Winstone has signed on to play an unnamed role in the movie, while THR says O.T. Fagbenle, of The Handmaid’s Tale fame, is also appearing in Black Widow. Except no one knows who he's playing. All we have is one leaked image to go on. Hmm...
There have even been rumblings about two MCU actors who are making their presence felt as part of the Black Widow movie cast.
First up is a big one: Robert Downey Jr. Yup. Tony Stark may be returning nearly two years after his supposed departure in Avengers: Endgame. There's a bit of a twist, though. Reports suggest his cameo will actually be ripped straight from a Captain America: Civil War unreleased deleted scene, showing Stark telling Nat to make a run for it. That also fits in nicely with the Black Widow timeline fitting snugly in-between Infinity War and Endgame.
Also intriguing is the apparent inclusion of General Ross (William Hurt), who was last seen in Endgame but is best known for his antagonistic role in 2008's The Incredible Hulk. He was spotted in the latest trailer. Could he be setting up The Thunderbolts, the nefarious Marvel team-for-hire?
Black Widow movie trailers: watch every teaser now
Not one, not two, but three Black Widow trailers are here, plus the Black Widow Super Bowl teaser! You can watch the first one above, but let's break down the essential takeaways, just in case you missed anything.
Taking place before Infinity War, Natasha returns to what looks like her 'family' of Black Widows, including Yelana, Rachel Weisz's unnamed character, and the father figure: David Harbour's Red Guardian. They look to be battling Taskmaster in one scene, though the key motif running through the Black Widow trailer is that Natasha will stop running away from her past. What she hopes to find when tracing the murky history of her formative years is anyone's guess, but at least this is one chapter she can finally close, especially after we know what's to come in Avengers: Endgame.
Nat also has a new look: a white suit. Upcoming Metal Gear Solid movie director Jordan Vogt-Roberts even likens it to The Boss' own get-up in Snake Eater.
Honest question.I’m firm believer of parallel thinking, but...Is there any BLACK WIDOW pre the release of METAL GEAR SOLID 3 in 2004 that establishes this white suit?It sure reminds me of a certain patriot who saved the world❗️Also, Cyber Monday Sale on elevated walkways! pic.twitter.com/NhOr0FaoeSDecember 3, 2019
There's also a really cool Easter egg tucked away in the Black Widow trailer. Yelena is wearing a jacket that her "sis" Nat would later go on to wear in Infinity War. Whether it's a tribute or just a keepsake, however, remains to be seen.
The second trailer, meanwhile, features a lot of the footage found in the first preview, but also includes a greater look at Taskmaster, the villain of the piece. The masked man (or woman, I'm looking at you Rachel Weisz) carries on the theme of copying the Avengers' fighting styles. In the first trailer, it was Hawkeye. Here, it's Cap and even Black Widow herself. But is the Taskmaster with or agains the new "wave of Widows" that have emerged?
The Big Game Spot may not be as fleshed-out as the two trailers that preceded it, but it certainly adds enough to the malestrom of hype building before May's release. In it, Black Widow introduces us to her pre-Avengers family, while Taskmaster also takes another page out of the book of Captain America with his trademark shield stomp being replicated by the mysterious masked villain.
The third (and possibly final) Black Widow movie trailer diverts attention from Nat and her clan and towards the villainous Taskmaster. They're once again shown to be aping the Avengers' tactics, including showing off some Black Panther-style claws.
Black Widow movie plot: is it a prequel?
First thing’s first: the Black Widow movie is a prequel. Yes, it had been rumoured for some time – including a rogue piece of product placement helping piece together the clues – but now it’s official thanks to David Harbour’s interview with IGN. He told the publication that it’s being set in the gap between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War on the MCU timeline.
So, what can we expect from the Black Widow movie plot? Exact story details haven’t been revealed, with the trailers understandably not giving too much away. We can glean some story details, such as Nat working alongside previous Black Widows against a new threat led by Taskmaster, but that's about it so far. In terms of character details, we’ve got a few choice quotes about Natasha Romanoff’s arc in the movie.
Director Cate Shortland says that “[Black Widow] gets to put all the pieces of herself back together,” while Scarlett Johansson says she’s going to play “Natasha as a fully-realised woman… and I’m excited for fans to see the flawed side of her.”
As revealed in a THR profile of Johansson, the actress says that "The movie packs a big punch." She's also involved in tweaking the script in her role as executive producer, revealing that it makes her feel as if she's "in control of the destiny of this film" which gives her "a lot more peace of mind."
Interestingly enough, the Marvel timeline won't be affected by a Black Widow delay, with one insider telling Variety it's business as usual. Whether that means the story won't affect things in the MCU current-day of 2023 or not is open for debate, but it's certainly an interesting aspect to cling to in the coming months.
The Black Widow movie posters have been revealed
BLACK WIDOW!!! Official D23 poster I had the honor of painting. She’s very near & dear to me since it’s the gazillionth time I’ve concept designed/painted her. What a cast & crew! #BlackWidow @MarvelStudios #ScarlettJohansson @Florence_Pugh @DavidKHarbour #RachelWeisz @DisneyD23 pic.twitter.com/fxMOI4fJ5RAugust 25, 2019
The very first Black Widow movie poster was revealed back in August. Post-D23, Marvel Studios' director of visual development, Andy Park, unveiled the artwork, showcasing a look not only at the titular agent, but also her supporting cast.
Fusing together the character's two characters black (of course) and red (still on her ledger, lest we forget), the Black Widow posters shows Natasha Romanoff clad in a slightly new suit to the one we're accustomed to seeing from her. The yellow trim and belt looks, if anything, a little too flamboyant for the punch first, ask questions later Black Widow.
There's also a look at the designs of David Harbour's Red Guardian, as well as showcasing Rachel Weisz's Black Widow character, plus Florence Pugh's Yelena. Take a look at it above in more detail.
The latest Black Widow poster arrived in March, with the very first look at O-T Fagbenle's unnamed character.
Here's your look at the new poster for Marvel Studios' #BlackWidow! See it in theaters May 1. pic.twitter.com/Q2KU0xXjiNMarch 9, 2020
Black Widow movie director: who is Cate Shortland?
Despite being officially revealed at SDCC, the Black Widow movie director has been known for a while. THR reported studio executives met with more than 70 potential directors for the flick, with Cate Shortland ultimately getting the big gig – the first woman to helm a Marvel movie solo, after Anna Boden directed Captain Marvel with Ryan Fleck.
Shortland made her name with a succession of short films in her homeland of Australia before the 2004 release of Somersault, her first feature. She’s best known for Lore, a 2012 historical drama where a Nazi family seek to evade Allied forces at the end of World War 2.
Potential directors who lost out to Shortland include Amma Asante (Belle, A United Kingdom), Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry, Carrie) and Maggie Betts (Novitiate).
Meanwhile, Collider reports that the Black Widow movie writer is Ned Benson, most famous for his work on The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. The role originally went to Jac Schaeffer (The Hustle), but apparently Benson has been commissioned for a significant rewrite of Schaeffer’s script.