Have you ever wondered what a Black Widow movie could be like? #Marvel fans across the world certainly have; there have been near-continuous calls for a film to star Scarlett Johansson's sexy assassin, ever since we first met her in Iron Man 2. Now, at last, one fan-film has given us a taste of the story we could see:
Starring Allison Powell as #BlackWidow (she's also the writer and producer), and featuring Mark Whitten as Hawkeye, it's a sleek fan-film that explores the character's #MCU backstory. At the same time, though, the script carefully weaves in some key details from the comics — most notably Hawkeye's deafness.
In narrative terms, this fan-film is absolutely perfect. Powell's script wisely sets these events 15 years ago, with Natasha still an agent of the Red Room. It's a smart call, meaning the fan-film is set against the backdrop of the collapse of the USSR. In a time of political chaos, extremists would no doubt be using the Red Room's assassins to deadly effect across the globe, trying to get a chance to rise to power. At the same time though, any ideological commitment Black Widow had to her homeland would have been shattered by the fall of the Soviet Union. Little wonder she'd have been reduced to nothing more than an obedience to her masters — and no surprise she'd have been vulnerable to Hawkeye's piercing gaze, with the marksman seeing straight through her emotional armor.
Of course, the fan-film is only a taste of what we could get from a full-on Black Widow movie. I can't help watching it and envisioning a Jason Bourne-esque movie, in which Black Widow defects and she and Hawkeye take on the combined forces of the Red Room. The fan-film even hints at that direction, with Black Widow giving S.H.I.E.L.D. all the intelligence she knows.
Could We Ever See This Black Widow Movie?
There have been rumblings about a possible Black Widow movie for years. In May last year, Anthony Russo — one of the writers of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War — called the idea a "no-brainer." But it still hasn't happened, and in October last year Scarlett Johansson gave fans reason to worry when she observed:
"I’m invested in that character. Marvel is greatly invested in that character. If I did it, I’d have to do it while I still actually wanted to wear a skin-tight catsuit. I don’t know how much longer that’s going to be."
Marvel's slate is currently full all the way up to 2020, and we can reasonably expect two of that year's three Marvel movies to be the Doctor Strange sequel and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Given Avengers: Infinity War looks set to launch some new franchises, odds are we're talking 2021 as the earliest we can expect to see a Black Widow film. Given Johansson's comment, the clock is clearly ticking.
Why Hasn't Marvel Made This Already?
The sad truth is that — until Wonder Woman — key figures in Hollywood had been quietly insistent that a female superhero film simply couldn't work. None seem to have been more vocal about it than Marvel CEO, Ike Perlmutter. When Sony was hacked back in 2014, the leaked emails included one from Perlmutter listing female-led superhero movies that had bombed. Given Sony's interest in a female-led Spider-verse film at the time, it's not hard to deduce the context. More recently, we even learned Perlmutter forced Iron Man 3 to be rewritten, as he didn't feel a female bad guy would sell toys.
Of course, Perlmutter isn't involved in Marvel Studios anymore: In 2015, Disney forced a reorganization that split Marvel Studios out from the rest of Marvel Entertainment, with the movie division run by Kevin Feige. It's worth noting that this year's Thor: Ragnarok gives Marvel their first main female villain, Hela. I'm sure that's really nothing to do with Perlmutter's now being out of the picture, of course...
Ultimately, this year's latest superhero success — Wonder Woman — has just shattered the argument made by the Ike Perlmutters of this world. The film broke $100 million in its opening weekend — the highest-grossing opening weekend for a female-directed movie in history. It's come in for both popular and critical acclaim. To call Patty Jenkins's Wonder Woman loved is an understatement. And the star, #GalGadot, is inspiring the world. The problem with films like Elektra and Catwoman, it seems, isn't that they were female-led — it's that they just weren't good films. Superhero fans already knew that, but now that case has surely been proved to Hollywood.
We can only thank the whole production team for making this tremendous fan-film, but at the same time we have to ask: Why haven't we got an actual movie yet? Come on, Marvel, it's time to give a girl a chance. If Scarlett Johansson's up for it, make 2021 the year of the Widow.
Do you want to see a solo 'Black Widow' film?
(Poll Image Credit: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel Studios)