The wait is nearly over: Black Widow is finally coming our way in July, releasing simultaneously in theaters and on Disney Plus via Premiere Access. And what a wait it's been – we've been hoping for a Natasha Romanoff solo movie for 13 years, and then, of course, the pandemic wreaked havoc on release dates worldwide. But we'll finally see Scarlett Johansson back as Nat in a matter of weeks, alongside Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, and O-T Fagbenle.
In the meantime, we've put together everything that's worth knowing about the movie, from the release date to the runtime to the lowdown on director Cate Shortland. There are plenty of teasers and trailers to whet your appetite, too, as well as a guide to where the movie fits into the Marvel timeline. That's just the start of it, too, so keep reading to find out everything we know so far about Black Widow, the next Marvel Phase 4 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, 2020, 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, then to May 7, 2021, and finally to July 7, 2021. Not only with the new Marvel movie be arriving in cinemas, though, it's also coming to Disney Plus – with a $30/£20 Premiere Access fee.
The runtime has been revealed, hinting that maybe things are staying put. You have a solid 133 minutes of Marvel action awaiting you this July.
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 Alexei Shostakov, 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. "I play this character called Mason," he told The Playlist. "It's really cool, actually, because you know you get those characters, like in James Bond you've got Q, and in Batman, I guess, you've got Alfred, and in some ways, I think Mason is that person who helps facilitate Black Widow's missions with all the cool shit that she needs."
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 four 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 Yelena, Rachel Weisz's Melina, 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. 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 against 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 formerly "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.
The final "final" Black Widow trailer details Natasha's enigmatic past, both as an Avenger and before that as a child, as well as showing off more of Taskmaster. It looks like Natasha is going to have her work cut out for her, with the villain once again demonstrating his fighting prowess.
In what we thought was our last look at Black Widow before the movie finally releases, a new Marvel featurette included some footage from the film, which includes Natasha, Yelena, Melina, Alexei, and Taskmaster.
But wait, what's that? That's right, more footage! This time, a clip from the movie itself rather than a trailer, which was released during the MTV Movie Awards. It shows Natasha and Yelena teaming up together in a high-speed car chase, with what appears to be another Black Widow racing after them on a motorcycle.
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. The movie takes place 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 next Black Widow poster arrived in March, with the very first look at O-T Fagbenle's character Mason.
Here's your look at the new poster for Marvel Studios' #BlackWidow! See it in theaters May 1. pic.twitter.com/Q2KU0xXjiNMarch 9, 2020
To go along with the new release date news, another poster with Natasha front and center in her white suit was unveiled.
Marvel Studios' "Black Widow" is in theaters July 9 and on @DisneyPlus with Premier Access. Additional fees required. pic.twitter.com/6p0bCZ425ZMarch 23, 2021
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.
Want to catch up on Black Widow's story so far? You can see all of the movies she's appeared in through a Disney Plus sign-up or Disney Plus bundles (now that the Disney Plus free trial is gone, it's the cheapest option).