S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Most Wanted
With the conclusion of The Finely Woven Thread came Secret Wars, which slightly rebooted the Marvel universe. In the aftermath, the dream team of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee took over Black Widow for the S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Most Wanted arc in 2016. Fittingly, the story even picked up on a thread first introduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Though the circumstances were far different, the story begins with a number of Natasha's S.H.I.E.L.D. files and secrets going public. The results see agents lives in the crosshair and the entire organization gunning for Natasha.
While a lot has happened since Natasha did this same thing herself in The Winter Soldier—and a lot more will occur before a Black Widow movie arrives—this could be the perfect jumping off point for a solo movie. Not only that, but it could easily trigger an arc of atonement that marries Waid's and Emondson's stories. Though a good deal of time has passed since Natasha brazenly made S.H.I.E.L.D.'s deepest secrets public, a Black Widow movie could kick off with a victim of the info dump gunning for the spy and Avengers. It's only a matter of time before S.H.I.E.L.D. is back in the films, so the plot could even work around the idea that the group is trying to lock down Natasha to pin the events on her. From there, Widow could head off on her solo mission, both atoning for her past and seeking the person who's after her.
Another big hook that the MCU has yet to fully explore: Natasha' time in the Red Room. Interestingly, the brain-washing, assassin school for wayward girls was a bigger part of Agent Carter season 1 than anything in the Marvel movies. But there's still much that's unknown about Natasha's childhood and her training. Whether it was decades ago or more recent, the darkness of the Red Room is a constant in Natasha's life and it would be hard to have a film about Black Widow that didn't address it.
There's also precedent in Ed Brubaker's Secret Avengers for a new Red Room that send Natasha off on a mission with her teammate Valkyrie. We know Taika Waititi wants to make a Black Widow movie, so pairing Natasha and Valkyrie could be something truly out of the box. Granted, the Valkyrie from Secret Avengers isn't the same one from Thor: Ragnarok, but it would still be quite an interesting team-up. Either way, the concept of a re-activated Red Room, a deadly plot involving S.H.I.E.L.D. secrets, and the exploration of Natasha's past would not only tie together various comic arcs but use multiple movie plots as a jumping off point for an intricate spy thriller set against the backdrop of the MCU.
In all honesty, the best way to tell the types of stories from the comics that do Black Widow's character the most justice would be a Netflix series. The ongoing mystery and intrigue inherit in Natasha's life is tailor-made for something episodic. Luckily, the MCU essentially treats its film franchises this way. As long as Black Widow is the start of a trilogy, Natasha's story can be properly told.
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019