With the arrival of Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home, the Infinity Saga and Phase 3 of the MCU comes to a close. Many of our favorite Marvel characters have undergone enormous changes to their narrative arcs, some they can grow from, others they can never return from. One of the biggest sacrifices came in the form of Natasha Romanoff as she gave her soul in exchange for the Soul Stone. While it was a noble gesture, it did throw into question the plot of the stand-alone Black Widow movie expected to debut during Phase 4.
Black Widow’s past has been as mysterious as she is, fraught with danger, subterfuge, and secrecy. While many suspect her stand-alone film will be a prequel movie given the events of Endgame, other theories suggest that radical methods will be used to bring her back from the Soulworld, or that she’s secretly a Skrull agent in disguise. From logical to truly bizarre, here are ten fan theories for the Black Widow movie.
10 The Widow Program
Many have speculated that the standalone Black Widow movie would be a prequel focusing on Natasha’s life prior to joining the Avengers. According to the comics, Natasha Romanoff was taken along with dozens of other young orphan girls to be part of the Black Widow Ops Program, sacrificing her former identity to be trained as an elite super assassin at the Red Room, a secret Soviet training facility.
The Cold War-era program was designed to forge the ultimate female super spy after the success of the Winter Soldier program, with Department X injecting her with a similar serum to Captain America. It seems with Natasha’s fate pretty certain in Avengers: Endgame, this is a viable option.
9 Her Past With Hawkeye
Though not revealed as much in the MCU, Hawkeye and Black Widow have an extensive history. They have been partners on missions, platonic friends, lovers, and ex-fiances in the comic books. While the MCU focused more on their friendship, preferring to pair Natasha off with other potential love interests like Captain America and Bruce Banner and making Clint Barton married.
The Black Widow movie could choose to delve deeper into Natasha’s relationship with the expert marksman, especially since in many comic iterations they share a lot of commonalities; both come from troubled pasts involving abuse from authority figures, and both found redemption through S.H.I.E.L.D. It would definitely add to their emotional scenes in Avengers: Endgame.
8 Ivan Petrovich
In some iterations of the Black Widow backstory, Natasha Romanoff was taken as an orphan after her parents were killed in a fire and used as a KGB operative. In other iterations, she was adopted by Ivan Petrovich, who became a father/mentor figure to her (that is until she was forced to kill him after he became obsessed with her).
In Avengers: Endgame, when she visits Vormir with Hawkeye to retrieve the Soul Stone, Red Skull addresses her as “Natasha Romanoff, daughter of Ivan”. Clint seems surprised to learn of her father’s name, whom she claims to have never known, implying Red Skull refers to her adoptive father who we may learn more about in the upcoming film.
7 It's A Psychological Thriller
Given the fact that the Black Widow comics heavily focus on espionage and subterfuge, it only makes sense that the Black Widow movie could be a taut psychological spy thriller in the vein of The Manchurian Candidate, Mission Impossible, or Black Swan, focusing on Black Widow’s missions that made her one of the most effective killing machines in the world.
But what about if it takes a turn for the unexpected, and positions her in the Soulworld? She may even come across Gamora, also in limbo after Thanos sacrificed her to retrieve the Soul Stone. Perhaps they team up and discover a way to break through, having to go through a hellscape of psychological torment to do so.
6 She Fights Red Skull
Even if somehow Black Widow became conscious in the Soulworld, and even if she discovered Gamora’s whereabouts and they teamed up to escape, there would still be the issue of Red Skull waiting for them on the other side. Who knows that cosmic powers he’s acquired and if she’d be any match for him in her current state?
There are other souls of other powerful beings (i.e. The Magus) trapped in the Soulworld as well, so perhaps she fights Red Skull using their abilities. Though it was explicitly stated that Black Widow couldn’t be resurrected in Avengers: Endgame, stranger things have happened in the realm of Marvel comics.
5 The Soulstone is Returned, And So is She
At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Captain America sets off with some Pym Particles to return the six Infinity Stones back to their rightful timelines. One of his stops would have to be Vormir, where he would return the Soul Stone to its keeper, Red Skull. If that happened, would the trade not grant Natasha her life back?
It’s been said the Natasha from that timeline couldn’t possibly return to the current timeline (where Thanos has won and they must undo his damage) because that would affect the timeline where Clint is and he might not get his family back (either that, or another Thanos could jump to a timeline where the Avengers won).
Avengers not only set up the camaraderie between all of the members of the Avengers team, but it also focused on how they knew each other, and how they specifically interacted. Black Widow and Hawkeye are already explained to be agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. who routinely go on missions together.
While battling the Chitauri in NYC, they make mention of a mysterious “Budapest” mission. This mission is brought up again in Avengers: Endgame while the pair are visiting Vormir, yet we don’t learn anything more about it than when it was first introduced as part of character development. Perhaps the Black Widow movie finally reveals it.
3 Time Traveling Superheroes
When Black Widow “won the coin toss” against Hawkeye to be the one to sacrifice herself so that he could receive the Soul Stone, she was still wearing her quantum suit and still had her Pym Particles despite the fact that she was dead. And while it seems unlikely, more time travel in the Black Widow movie isn’t out of the question.
Though many Avengers are gone after Endgame, Bruce Banner is still around, as is Doctor Strange, Hank Pym, and Scott Land. Anyone of them could come across a way to bring Nat back from a different timeline or dimension, or even Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
2 During The Five Years After The Snap
After Thanos snapped his fingers and half of Earth’s population disappeared, the Avengers had to learn what to do with their lives. Thanos destroyed the Infinity Gauntlet after he used it, meaning that until they discovered a way to travel back in time and retrieve the Infinity Stones again, they had to fill their respective voids with purpose.
Captain America continued leading his support group. Iron Man went off to raise his daughter with Pepper Potts. Black Widow held down the fort, directing a team which included Rocket, Nebula, Okoye, and War Machine to help wherever it could. No doubt they got into several adventures a Black Widow film might touch on.
1 She's A Skrull Agent
As we saw in Captain Marvel, Skrull agents can take the appearance of anyone, male, female, or inanimate object. According to users on Reddit, the Black Widow film could posit the theory that Natasha was abducted at some point by the Skrull and replaced with an agent. The agent would still save the world and ingratiate itself to some of the biggest threats to the Invasion army (the Hulk), but bide its time until the Secret Invasion occurred. This would parallel a similar storyline of Spider-Woman’s in the Secret Invasion series of comic books, but replacing her story arc with Black Widow. This theory would no doubt upset a lot of fans, but it would certainly be unexpected.