After years of fans hoping to see a Black Widow solo film, the movie finally has a screenwriter. It’s long been assumed that Phase 4 of the MCU would finally give Scarlet Johansson’s character her due, and it looks as if that’s exactly the plan. And though Jac Schaeffer doesn’t have much experience, she’s perfectly in line with previous Marvel choices such as Nicole Perlman who cowrote Guardians of the Galaxy with James Gunn. Given the right director, the oversight of Kevin Feige, and plenty of input from Johansson, there’s no shortage of exciting directions a Black Widow film could go in.
Since her debut in 1964’s Tales of Suspense #52, Natalia Alianovna Romanova aka Natasha Romanoff has been a hero full of contradictions and complications. Her mysterious past stretches back decades and has seen her work for many nations and organizations. Even in the modern age, she’s not always on the side of the Avengers or S.H.I.E.L.D., often striking out on her own to pursue remnants of her past. Like Wolverine, Natasha eternally wanders the Earth seeking to unravel her memories and set right her wrongs. As such, everything from Logan to Captain America: The Winter Soldier provide us with loose templates for a Black Widow movie.
When it comes to the comics, there are decades of stories to pull from for Natasha’s first solo outing. But two recent and consequential arcs in Marvel Comics have perfectly highlighted what makes Widow such a captivating character. Luckily, they both dovetail nicely into one another and can easily build off of Natasha’s history across her 5 MCU appearances so far.
The Finely Woven Thread
More than any of the other Avengers, the idea of Black Widow breaking off from the team and pursuing her own mission is baked into the character. It was this very concept that Nathan Edmondson used for his Marvel NOW! Black Widow series with artist Phil Noto in 2014. Dubbed The Finely Woven Thread, the arc involves Widow extricating herself from both Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and S.H.I.E.L.D. to seek atonement for her past. Enlisting the help of her lawyer Isaiah Ross (no relation to Thunderbolt or Everett), Natasha heads back to Russia seeking ways to undo some of the damage she did as a KGB agent.
Marvel has a number of options when it comes to executing a Black Widow movie depending on how deep they want to dive into her history. For an adaptation of The Finely Woven Thread, just about any former mission Natasha wants to atone for would be a solid way to blend the past and present—the backbone of any Widow story. We know she had a darker history before her time with S.H.I.E.L.D. and has run missions with Hawkeye and at least encountered the Winter Soldier in some form. Add in her past with Nick Fury, and a Black Widow movie could choose plenty of characters to weave into Natasha story.
In The Finely Woven Thread, for instance, Natasha’s mission runs her afoul of Iron Man. A similar story could see Captain America pursue her. Even better, but Sharon ‘Agent 13’ Carter could even be brought into the fold, connecting to the larger MCU without taking the spotlight from Natasha’s story. And there’s always the opportunity for a TV crossover by giving fans the Black Widow/Mockingbird team-up film they’ve been wanting. Regardless of pre-existing MCU elements, Edmondson’s story brings in a number of intriguing new characters.
Along with Ross, there’s the Russian monk turned terrorist Molot Baga who runs jobs for deep-cut Daredevil villain Damon Dran. More intriguingly, there’s the organization Chaos, which uses the future-visions of the mysterious Prophet to alter world events in their favor. That might be a bit too fantastical for what should be a more grounded movie story, but it ties nicely into the theme of changing the past that Natasha is so obsessed with. And when it comes to the past, Black Widow has quite a lengthy one.
Thanks to biological enhancements, the Black Widow of the comics is one of the few Marvel characters who’s actually been around since her real-time counterpart. While other heroes and villains exist in a sort of ever-shifting timeline, Widow has been active as a spy for decades and has remained young and healthy due to a series of upgrades. We’ve never had any indication that the MCU Widow is the same, but there’s nothing that prevents this concept from being explored. After all, Natasha has had her mind messed with plenty and there’s no telling what’s been hidden from her and how long she’s been active. And opening up the origins of the Black Widow would mesh nicely with the follow-up to The Finely Woven Thread.
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