Black Widow has long been one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From her debut in Iron Man 2, Natasha Romanoff has really chimed with fans, and it's easy to see why: She's inscrutable and badass, with a checkered past. Plus she's played by the fantastic Scarlett Johansson, which doesn't hurt. For years, fans have been baying for Black Widow to finally get her own solo movie. With so many mysteries in her backstory, there's ample plot to mine and plenty of questions to answer.
[Warning: spoilers ahead!]
Having starred in five Marvel movies so far, it seems that the time may have passed for Black Widow to get her own film. But the ending of [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) actually set up the perfect situation for Nat to finally get that solo movie we've been wanting for so long.
From Hero To Fugitive
Natasha's arc in Civil War is one of the most compelling of the film. After The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron established her strong friendship with Steve Rogers, Civil War sees Nat take an opposing stance to her teammate.
After revealing her secrets to the world in The Winter Soldier's conclusion, in Civil War Nat continues to take a stand in favor of transparency and accountability. For Nat, there is no question as to whether to sign the Sokovia Accords. Not bowing to government authority in this matter would mean sacrificing their freedom and risk appearing as vigilantes, or worse.
Throughout the film, we see Natasha as the negotiator, trying to mediate between Steve and Tony, and liaising with T'Challa in diplomatic meetings. She is reluctant to take the matter to the battlefield, remarking that it's a bad idea and quipping with Hawkeye even as they fight.
Ultimately, Black Widow chooses to defend Cap and Bucky from Black Panther, giving them the time they need to escape. This has huge repercussions for her, causing her to become a fugitive from the US government. Ironically, despite her efforts to solve the situation, she ends up sacrificing everything she's worked for in order to protect her friends.
The last we see of Nat, she's marching back into the shadows she's lived in most of her life. Team Cap is on the run too by the end of the film, but at least they have each other (and will probably become the Secret Avengers). But Natasha is alone, her future uncertain.
This is perhaps the keenest tragedy of Civil War: that after years of trying to wipe the red from her ledger, Black Widow is forced to leave everything she's worked for behind. So where will she go from here?
Following Her Finely Woven Thread
The possibilities for a Black Widow solo movie are understandably endless; the character has a long comic history and plenty of plots to explore. But in light of Civil War's conclusion, Marvel has the perfect opportunity to show us who Natasha chooses to be when she isn't thrust into one role or another.
Natasha grew up in the Red Room, trained to be an assassin from a young age. This backstory was briefly touched on in Age of Ultron, but many fans would like to see it explored more.
As we know, when Hawkeye was sent to take her out he "made a different call," recruiting her for S.H.I.E.L.D. instead. This is all well and good, giving Nat the opportunity to redeem herself and go from hero to villain. And yet, she hasn't yet had a chance to choose for herself what she wants to do with her life.
A solo movie set after Civil War could explore this idea, revealing whether Nat chooses to continue helping people, and if that would just make matters worse in regard to her fugitive status (do the Accords allow independent heroes to exist?). And there's the perfect comic series that is ripe for adaptation: Nathan Edmonson's Finely Woven Thread.
The comic follows Natasha in her extra-curricular activity. When she's not fighting with the Avengers, she uses her now vast fortune and her expertise to make amends for the destruction she caused before she became a hero. The comic was critically acclaimed — fans got the chance to see Natasha's path to redemption and hints at her backstory.
This concept would work perfectly for a post-Civil War solo Black Widow film, as Natasha is already in a position where she no longer works with the Avengers. This way, she could still act to help others but she'd have to lean heavily on her espionage skills in order to escape the clutches of her enemies, and avoid the US authorities.
Personally, I'd love to see Natasha work with Bucky Barnes, as in the original comic canon the two characters trained together in the Red Room. This would explain some of the hints from The Winter Soldier, specifically Bucky speaking in Russian when he was under the control of Hydra (a German organization). And then of course there's Natasha's line to Bucky in Civil War:
Wish lists aside, a solo Black Widow movie would bridge the gap between Civil War and Infinity War, revealing what Nat did in the interim. It could also give hints about Team Cap's activities, and if they manage to reunite while on the run.
So, will it happen? A Black Widow movie isn't scheduled in Marvel's Phase 3, but that plan has already been reshuffled once to incorporate Spider-Man: Homecoming, and with Inhumans reportedly shelved it could be that Marvel is already considering using this slot for a Black Widow film. After all, the Russos did express their interest in directing such a film recently. For now, all we can do is hope.