Avengers: Endgame killed Natasha Romanoff, leaving some big questions about the upcoming Black Widow solo movie. Fans always knew that the fourth Avengers film, the one bringing the Infinity Saga to its conclusion, would mean a few major casualties among the heroic ensemble of the franchise. Everyone had been taking bets on who would live, who would die, and who would come back after the reversal of the finger-snap that reverberated across the universe. Some endings were expected, like Captain America ending up in the past, and some were a shock but not necessarily unexpected, like Tony Stark sacrificing himself to defeat Thanos, but then there was the death of Black Widow.
Natasha Romanoff, as played by Scarlett Johansson, has been a Marvel favorite since her debut appearance in Iron Man 2. As one of the core Avengers and the only woman in the group for so long, Black Widow has had a lot of pressure on her shoulders. Fans have wondered for years why she never landed a solo movie, especially after Marvel Studios finally got around to giving a woman hero one this year with Captain Marvel. Gossip swirled for years over the reasons – Scarlett Johansson wasn’t interested, they couldn’t find a way to fit it into the franchise canon, Marvel were hesitant to give a major big-budget title to a woman, and so on – to the point where it seemed as though there would never be a solo Black Widow outing.
But, while not officially announced by Marvel, Black Widow is in development with a May 2020 release date looking likely. Australian director Cate Shortland is attached to helm the film, with major names like David Harbour (Hellboy), Rachel Weisz (The Favourite) and Florence Pugh (Fighting With My Family) on board to co-star. It’s shaping up to be an exciting project. Which makes her death in Avengers: Endgame all the more curious. Just what can the Black Widow movie do.
Black Widow Dies In Avengers: Endgame
Of all the major deaths in Endgame, it’s Black Widow’s that packs the biggest punch in terms of genuine shock. She doesn’t get to die victorious in battle like Iron Man or go off gently into that good night with a dream fulfilled like Captain America. Rather, she is the ultimate sacrifice made by herself, and by extension Clint Barton, in the name of doing what is right for the greater good. In the Avengers’ search for the Infinity Stones through time in order to defeat Thanos before he has a chance to gather them himself, Clint and Natasha are sent to retrieve the Soul Stone.
As revealed in Avengers: Infinity War, the only way one can retrieve the Soul Stone to sacrifice that which they love the most. And, when Clint and Nat both decide to give their life for the greater good, the pair fight over who will be the one to jump: Clint is riddled with grief over the loss of his entire family and guilt for the violent path he took in the aftermath as Ronin, while Natasha is driven to fix the problem at any cost. Eventually, with the pair of them hanging over the side of the cliff, Natasha lets go and Clint is able to retrieve the Soul Stone.
It’s an echo of what happened in Infinity War with Thanos and Gamora, but this is a sacrifice of genuine love and altruism. For a character like Natasha, someone who has struggled with the sins of her past and worked hard to define herself as a true hero to atone for said mistakes, it was an ending that made sense. Of course, we still have a Black Widow movie to look forward to, so what does that look like?
Black Widow Has A Solo Movie Releasing In 2020 (But It's A Prequel)
While neither Marvel Studios or The Walt Disney Company have confirmed anything regarding the plot of the Black Widow movie, it has been widely reported that the latest draft of the script (by Jac Schaeffer, who co-wrote Captain Marvel) is a prequel that explores Natasha's time as a KGB assassin and later S.H.I.E.L.D., meaning it will be set in the 1990s and early-2000s. This will explain how she got red on her ledger, her run-in with the Winter Soldier, the many missions teased in The Avengers, and the namedrop about her father, Ivan, in Endgame.
Most of the conversation surrounding the Black Widow movie has suggested it will be a far more low-key film than many of its MCU counterparts, with a smaller budget and less focus on the speculative and mystical. A Black Widow film that works more as a dark spy thriller rooted in realism would certainly be new territory for the franchise. Earlier this year, rumors began to build that Disney were considering making Black Widow the first ever R-rated MCU title, which were swiftly dismissed, but it highlights the expectations for the project.
Production on Black Widow is expected to begin sometime this summer, making it likely the next MCU movie after Spider-Man: Far From Home and thus likely for the studio's May 1, 2020 release slot. An official announcement is expected at SDCC 2019.
Will Black Widow Come Back To Life In The MCU's Future?
Anything is possible in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Heroes can come back from the dead, Thanos’s finger-snap can be reversed, and the most obscure characters can headline billion dollar movies. While Avengers: Endgame repeatedly insists that Natasha’s decision to sacrifice herself cannot be reversed, that certainly hasn’t stopped decades of comic book canon from doing so. There are always alternate universes to explore or journeys back in time to be made. If Gamora can return and Vision has his own TV show, surely Natasha can come back too?
Of course, it may simply be that Marvel doesn’t need Black Widow anymore. For most of their history, she was the only major female hero, and now there are many more in their roster. Scarlett Johansson is a huge worldwide star whose price has only increased since she joined the franchise. The actress is allegedly receiving $15 million for the solo Black Widow movie, which would make her one of the highest earners in the series, and to renegotiate her contract for further movies would inevitably be one of the pricier endeavors for the series’ casting agents. It could easily be that Johansson has done what she wanted to do with the character and bowing out with a movie that shows Natasha’s origins is the perfect way for her to end her tenure as Black Widow. There will always be room for flashback cameos or a glimpse into another realm where she is still alive.
It will be interesting to see if there is real fan hunger for a Black Widow prequel given how we know her story ends. The character is certainly popular enough and this set-up may give Cate Shortland and her team more freedom to tell the story they want to, free from many of the expanded universe constraints. For now, fans can take comfort in knowing that they haven’t seen the last of Natasha Romanoff.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019