What's to be done with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow? It seems every day you hear fans exclaiming "just give Black Widow her own series!", and yet nothing comes to fruition. While the idea that movie franchises can just be fabricated into existence is a little simplistic, it is rather infuriating to have Marvel continually shrug their shoulders, implying that filmmakers and audiences just wouldn't know what to do with Black Widow.
Natasha Romanov has stuck around in the MCU since Iron Man 2, and has seen other Marvel heroes have their stories expanded and ended, and even seen entirely new characters crop up around her. There's a movie with space smugglers played by a raccoon and a tree, and still Black Widow isn't seen as being bankable. She's one of the most popular staples of The Avengers and the MCU in general, so what are the things Marvel NEEDS to get right in giving Scarlett Johansson her own movie?
Get the gender politics right!
Hollywood screen writers seem to be at a loss with the impression that nailing gender issues in movies is both more and less complicated than it actually is. They're exactly right, for a real expression of gender equality through film is often an unconscious one. While [Marvel's Agent Carter](tag:1119765) was encouraging for the sake of exposure, the moments of having the patriarchy vocalize their shock in seeing a lady kick so much ass still operate by spice girls logic.
Gone are the days where a movie can simply have a "strong female protagonist" and ask for a cookie. We ran out of cookies a long time ago. It's one thing to make the Black Widow movie. It's another to, y'know... MAKE the Black Widow movie. I'd advise the writers simply to stay aware of what they're doing. What with how blind and careless Natasha's damselling in [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035) felt, it's simply a case of knowing how each narrative beat will resonate with the audience. Just have the story centre around her interior emotions and motivations, and don't have her turn to the camera after an action scene and say "can you even believe how feminist this is?"
Tell a smaller story/add Daredevil
Now for someone who's just spent two paragraphs explaining how important it is for Marvel to get the gender politics right, it sounds a little odd for me to follow it up with "add a dude!" However, Daredevil could play a significant role in Natasha's own story. Storylines like their team up in San Fransisco both provide new imagery for the MCU, and put both characters out of their comfort zones. Matt Murdock would make an excellent side character, dipping in and out of the plot and helping our protagonist where needed, much as Black Widow did in [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](tag:254973).
The best thing about a Black Widow movie is that it would be a chance for the MCU to slow down a notch, and stop each film out doing the last with its grandiosity. Black Widow just doesn't lend herself to saving the entirety of existence; at least definitely not on her own. A solo adventure would mean time for Marvel to take a breather, and help the audience understand that there's more to enjoy than sky scraper battles and portals to other dimensions. Many of Black Widow's storylines involve her protecting the vulnerable from those in power, or uncovering conspiracies. This means what motivates the plot will be trials of a personal nature and not "will the earth blow up this time? Tick yes or no."
Leading into Infinity War
Ignoring the fact that Scarlett Johansson will be returning for [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409), what benefit could a Black Widow movie have in the lead up to [The Avengers: Infinity War](tag:738027)? Well, it would give her a sense of centrality right before an event in which she will have none. The cosmic ramifications of the Infinity War storyline likely won't leave much space for Natasha Romanov. Fans have always joked that what she brings to the Avengers in an all out fight is essentially two pistols, and Infinity War would only exacerbate that. Perhaps Marvel will lower the stakes a little to make for easier watching, but come on. This is still Thanos we're talking about!
A standalone Black Widow movie would stop her being a sideline character just as the MCU story moves into a place where being a sideline character isn't an option. Better yet, maybe the adventures she becomes embroiled in free her entirely from the Avengers plot line. Whatever happens, Scarlett Johansson will have to solidify her place in the MCU canon sooner or later.