After appearing in 4 Marvel movies and gaining more and more popularity each time, Scarlett Johansson will reprise her role as Black Widow in [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) next year. And she's not just in for a cameo: recent reports have placed her as having a crucial role in the events that are set to change the face of the Avengers franchise forever! This is a wise move by Marvel: Black Widow is one of their most compelling characters, and though they have yet to give her the solo movie that fans have been asking for since The Avengers, her character development in [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](tag:254973) placed her as one of the story's major players.
Black Widow's role might be different than you'd expect: if the film is to follow the comic story, she will side with Tony Stark in the inevitable split. This is seriously concerning fans, as Natasha's relationship with Steve Rogers was carefully developed in Captain America 2, leaving the two as unlikely friends. Although Black Widow's characterisation in [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035) was... interesting if not incongruous with her previous appearances, her friendship with Steve was only made stronger. We finished the film with the promise of a new team lead by both Steve and Natasha. Yet in Civil War she may abandon Steve and follow Tony instead!
The Real Breakup of Civil War
In the comics, one of the most heartbreaking elements of the Civil War plotline was the schism between Steve and Tony.
Lifelong friends, they nevertheless found themselves parting ways over the matter of superhero registration, and ended up coming to blows in a tragic climax to the story. However, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Steve and Tony are hardly friends: their interactions fall short of banter as the two bicker over everything. They've been at odds over every major decision the team made in Avengers 1&2, so by the time Captain America 3 roles around their breakup is less tragic and more inevitable. (In fact, I wouldn't even call it a breakup as they're not really friends to begin with.)
Natasha and Steve, on the other hand, have had two films worth of relationship development leading up to Civil War. If they part ways, just after learning to trust one another, this breakup is far more comparable to the original Tony/Steve dynamic in the comics.
Big Changes For The Civil War Film Plot!
Of course, Tony is set to be the real instigator of this schism between the Avengers, representing one side against Steve. But how the problem will be resolved is far from predictable: the Russos have already confirmed that the film will not follow the plot of the comics.
While the crucial topic in the comic canon is that of superhero registration, and revealing secret identities, this just does not work for the movie world. After all, most of the Avengers' identities are already public! So in a savvy move, the Russos adjusted the plot...
"After another international incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability and a governing body to determine when to enlist the services of the team."
Instead of facing exposure, the Avengers will now have to consider being controlled by an oversight agency. After Tony's desire to retire was revealed in Age of Ultron, we can easily predict which side he'll fall on. But it's hard to imagine Black Widow supporting another agency after she just helped Steve dismantle the corrupt SHIELD.
Getting The Gang Back Together!
So what will Black Widow's role be? The Russo's have revealed that she will play a major part in the film, but have yet to give us any hint as to how. While there are countless possibilities, these are the most likely options...
Betray Steve and side with Tony: this would follow the comics plot, and give the film the emotional punch it needs for a true breakup tragedy. Her friendship with Steve in tatters, Natasha would have to defend her belief that an oversight agency is the best way - after her radical revelations at the end of Captain America 2, perhaps she thinks this is best for transparency and a defence against corruption? Or maybe it's the arrival of the Winter Soldier, against whom she has fought before, that prompts her to switch sides.
Ignore the comics and defend Steve: although we'd lose our breakup appeal, this may make more sense for Natasha's character. She's been the tool of governments all her life, and Captain America 2 saw her question what the difference really was between SHIELD and the KGB.
- Reunite the Avengers and reconcile with Bucky: this might be the best option, tying together Natasha's plot with Bucky's mysterious backstory. In the comics, the two trained together and eventually fell in love. It could be that the films' Natasha hates the Winter Soldier so much because they were once lovers before he betrayed her. Could she finally reconcile with him, and reunite the Avengers in the process?
If Marvel have any sense, they'll use Black Widow's fascinating character to pull the fractious Civil War plot together. After all, Scarlett Johansson is a fantastic actress. We'd hate to see her talents go to waste!