Today's slew of announcements by Marvel Studios can best be summed up as "everyone gets a movie." Doctor Strange officially gets his own movie. Captain Marvel gets her own movie. The Inhumans get their own movie. Black Panther gets his own movie. Thor is getting another movie. The Avengers are getting more movies. Captain America is getting a Civil War. And Iron Man... well, Iron Man is considering doing another movie, when he's not showing up in Cap's.
Amid all of the excitement of knowing what Marvel films are on the way, it's worth taking a pause to look at the movies that aren't on the way. Specifically, Avengers team members Natasha Romanoff and Bruce Banner AKA Black Widow and the Incredible Hulk. Don't feel too sorry for these two, though; far from being kept on the sidelines, Marvel president Kevin Feige promised that these two will play huge and crucial roles in The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
We already knew that the Hulk would be getting a bigger role in The Avengers: Age of Ultron than he did in the first team-up movie, since Mark Ruffalo said several months ago that his second major appearance in the role "[is] more complex and it has more layers and a bit more arc." The recently released trailer for The Avengers: Age of Ultron reinforced this by showing the Hulk going toe-to-toe with the Hulkbuster as well as scenes of Bruce Banner curled up on the Quinjet - apparently coming unravelled - and stumbling shirtless through a snowy forest.
Despite having appeared in other characters' standalone movies like Iron Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Black Widow's role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has largely been as a supporting player. Unlike Bruce, Natasha wasn't featured too heavily in the trailer for The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and in her brief appearances she seemed to be relegated to a similar position as the one she had in The Avengers.
It's possible that Feige was simply being hyperbolic about how prominent a role Black Widow will play in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, in order to compensate for fans who are disappointed that no Black Widow standalone movie was announced. However, it's worth noting that one brief shot in the trailer showed Natasha touching her hand to the Hulk's big green palm. Perhaps the two characters will be brought to the forefront as part of a shared subplot.
The Incredible Hulk was one of the first movies to be released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and much of the pressure for Black Widow arguably had as much to do with a desire among some fans to see Marvel break the pattern of only making male-led superhero movies as it did with a desire to see Natasha at the center of her own story. With a Captain Marvel movie now officially announced some of that pressure has been relieved, but let us know in the comments if you're still hoping to see standalone Black Widow and Hulk movies announced in the not-too-distant future.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1, 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4, 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on July 28, 2017, Black Panther on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1 on May 4 2018, Captain Marvel on July 6 2018, Inhumans on November 2 2018 and Avengers: Infinity War - Part 2 on May 3 2019.