Now that Captain America: Civil War is smashing the box office, attention has turned to Scarlett Johansson's future role in the MCU.
Scarlett Johansson Captain America
Ever since Marvel Studios first introduced Black Widow in 2010, the Russian spy has become increasingly more integral to the MCU. Supporting parts in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers led to a lead role beside Steve Rogers in Captain America: Winter Soldier, where Scarlett Johansson's portrayal of Natasha Romanoff became a firm favorite among fans. Plus, it's nice to see a strong female lead, especially after hearing the sad news that Marvel cancelled Agent Carter.
It's been a long road, but in a recent interview, Kevin Feige finally confirmed that Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow will indeed star in her own movie somewhere down the line. More good news? This coincides perfectly with Feige's reveal about the upcoming Captain Marvel movie.
Let's take a look at why this admittedly awesome confirmation took so long to arrive.
Is Marvel Sexist?
Despite this positive response, it hasn't all been smooth sailing for the ex-Soviet spy. While the majority of her super-powered teammates have starred in their own solo ventures, Black Widow has remained conspicuously absent from the Marvel film roster, despite Scarlett Johansson's bankability as a movie star and the character's enduring popularity.
To make matters worse, fans expressed outrage at Black Widow's portrayal in Avengers: Age of Ultron, where the usually competent spy was reduced to a damsel in distress upon her capture in the movie's third act. In the eyes of Black Widow fans, Joss Whedon might as well have tied Romanoff to some train tracks at that point and twiddled his moustache.
As if that weren't bad enough, the highly publicized lack of Black Widow merchandise became the final straw for many, prompting an online barrage of accusations against Marvel Studios that labelled the company as misogynist in its treatment of women onscreen.
What Does Scarlett Johansson Think?
After Black Widow's profile was raised in Captain America: Winter Soldier, Scarlett Johansson herself weighed in on the topic, telling Collider:
"I think that there’s room for a standalone movie. The character has a really rich origin story and I’ve been really fortunate to kind of place all these layers on top of one another and kind of build up this character to this point where I think I can now start to peel them away and reveal different sides of her."
Studio president Kevin Feige has been notoriously cagey on this issue over the years, vaguely suggesting that a solo Black Widow film may eventually happen somewhere down the line. Feige's seeming lack of interest in the project was disheartening to say the least, leading many to believe that Romanoff's well deserved time in the spotlight would never come.
However, in Marvel's most recent hit, Captain America: Civil War, Black Widow stood out once again as a pivotal character among the film's starry ensemble, renewing hope that Scarlett Johansson may finally headline her own solo movie in the Marvel canon.
Good News, Guys!
Now, in a surprising turn of events, it appears as though our prayers may have finally been answered. After years of skepticism and controversy, Feige has confirmed in an interview with Deadline that Marvel is officially committed to producing a solo Black Widow movie — just not yet exactly.
When Deadline asked Feige if any of the Avengers remaining could star in their own solo venture, Feige responded by saying that:
"We’ve announced the next nine movies, 10 counting Civil War, through the end of 2019... Of the characters that you’ve just mentioned I would say certainly the one creatively and emotionally that we are most committing to doing is Black Widow."
Yep. You read it write. "Creatively and emotionally committed." But what does that mean, Feige? Why Black Widow?
"We think she’s an amazing character. We think Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of her is amazing. She’s a lead Avenger and has amazing stories in her own right to tell that we think would be fun to turn into a stand-alone franchise."
Music to our ears, Feige.
However, this interview does raise two important questions. Firstly:
1. When Will This Black Widow Movie Materialize?
Marvels upcoming movie schedule is looking extremely busy for the next few years, although a few of the unnamed slots in 2019 and 2020 could potentially belong to a certain Russian spy we all know and love. However, this outline is hardly set in stone; the proposed Inhumans movie has been wiped off the slate completely for now, and it seems as though Feige's "commitment" to the Black Widow project hasn't developed past the early planning stages as of yet.
At the premiere of Captain America: Civil War, Scarlett Johansson was 31 years old. Judging by the current Marvel movie schedule, the actress may be at least 35 by the time a solo Black Widow movie could be released. That shouldn't be an issue — Chris Evans is 34 right now and Robert Downey Jr. is 51 — but Hollywood is notorious for its ageist approach to casting, particularly when it comes to women.
If Feige doesn't back this commitment with some solid news soon, we could be in for an octogenarian Black Widow who puts down her pistols in favor of a badass walking stick.
2. Which Solo Black Widow Story Will Marvel Adapt First?
Assuming that Feige is telling the truth, the next step would be to decide which Black Widow storyline to pursue. Of course, the movies often differ from the original source material or sometimes even ignore it entirely, but it's likely that Marvel will draw at least some inspiration from the wealth of Black Widow comics out there.
Audiences have grown tired of superhero origin stories — we've all seen Bruce Wayne's parents die a billion times already — but it's likely that flashbacks to Black Widow's past as a KGB agent will feature alongside a present day story arc that can utilize Scarlett Johansson's star-power to the fullest.
While stories such as Itsy Bitsy Spider and Raison D'etre could be effective on the big screen, our money is on Name of the Rose, a more personal tale that would continue to explore the morality of Black Widow's past while also providing Marvel with the option to cast Captain America and the Winter Soldier in supporting roles. Gotta keep that extended universe going, right?
However the Black Widow movie turns out, one thing's for sure: It won't look anything like this admittedly hilarious "trailer" Scarlett Johansson made for SNL last year, which reimagines the Russian spy's story as a romantic comedy. Definitely worth thinking about for a sequel though.