Marvel Studios is moving forward with the Black Widow solo movie fans have clamored for since Scarlett Johansson first debuted as Natasha Romanoff in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - but now it's too late. Since kicking off its shared superhero universe in 2008, Marvel Studios has grown the MCU into a massive multi-billion dollar franchise that marks its 10th anniversary this year. In order to build up the universe in Phase 1, Marvel Studios released a slew of standalone origin story films that were loosely tied together by post-credits scenes that promised the heroes would eventually unite in The Avengers.
In 2012, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) graduated from their solo franchises to the team-up - and were joined by two other heroes introduced along the way: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Johansson). As the only two members of the original Avengers who hadn't received a solo movie, fans quickly voiced their desire to see either/both heroes star in their own standalone flicks, or unite for a prequel explaining the Budapest line from The Avengers. However, despite Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige teasing a Black Widow movie for many years, it wasn't until 2018 that there was finally some momentum behind the project.
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Marvel Studios tapped Blacklist screenwriter Jac Schaeffer to write the Black Widow movie script, which indicates the solo film is all but assured for Phase 4 of the MCU. Considering the MCU release slate as it stands right now, the earliest a Black Widow movie could premiere is mid-to-late 2019, after Avengers 4 and the Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel debut, though it could also arrive later in Phase 4, in 2020 or beyond. As a result, Black Widow won't get her solo movie until at least nine years after she made her debut in Iron Man 2, and roughly seven years since interest for her standalone film was at its peak. Now, it's too late for a Black Widow movie.
Why Is Marvel Making Black Widow Now?
Since Marvel Studios still haven't revealed their exact plans for Phase 4, it's possible they've been planning the Black Widow movie to arrive after Avengers 4 for quite some time. As of now, the only movie with a release date in Phase 4 is the Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel. However, James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy 3 and Scott Derrickson's Doctor Strange 2 are presumed to be included on the post-Avengers 4 release slate. Now we can also add Black Widow to the schedule, though it's unclear where exactly in Phase 4 the solo film will arrive.
Still, while Marvel may have been planning to include a Black Widow movie in the MCU at some point, it's undoubtedly been the female-led film for which fans have been clamoring the most. Certainly, fans have been anticipating the solo debut of Captain Marvel, but that's been on the release slate since the studio announced it in 2014. In a franchise with more solo movies starring actors named Chris than female superheroes, one reason fans have been calling for a Black Widow standalone is to see more women-led films in the MCU - and, frankly, for a long time Black Widow was the only prominent female hero who seemed like a viable choice for a spinoff.
Thankfully, the MCU has since introduced other female heroes, like Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie, Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch, and Evangeline Lilly's Hope van Dyne/Wasp. But, like Black Widow before them, they're largely relegated to supporting - or sidekick - roles in an ensemble or male character's movie. Since Black Widow is one of the more prominent female heroes in the MCU, and arguably the most prominent hero on the Avengers team who hasn't received a solo film, it makes the most sense for Johansson's Russian assassin to receive a standalone entry. And, since fans have long wanted a Black Widow movie in the MCU, there are undoubtedly going to be many moviegoers excited to show up for Natasha Romanoff's solo debut.
But, since the landscape of the MCU has drastically changed since The Avengers - and even more so since Iron Man 2 - is Marvel Studios' Black Widow movie poorly timed? It may be too late now for a Black Widow film in the MCU.