Black Widow: It's Time
For years, fans and onlookers of Marvel's Cinematic Universe have wondered if a Black Widow solo outing was in the cards. Scarlett Johansson's portrayal of the character has been well received. She is the first female Avenger to appear in the MCU and has portrayed the character in five films. However, she is still without her own solo adventure. There's yet to be a female solo adventure yet in the MCU. Of course, that will be changing in the not too distant future.
Captain Marvel will be released in 2019, but before that, Ant-Man and the Wasp will land on the silver screen in the summer of 2018. Can Marvel Studios make room for a Black Widow film on their loaded slate? Whether sometime in the next two to three years or to kick off Phase 4? It would be difficult but not impossible. The more important question might be: Do they want to?
Back in January, while discussing Captain America: Civil War, the Russo brothers seemed thrilled at the idea of making a Black Widow film. More recently, they said they believed a film will happen when the timing is right. Just a few days ago, Joss Whedon, who had previously sworn off doing anymore superhero films, expressed a desire to helm the film. While these sentiments bode well, the most important opinion on the matter is that of Kevin Feige's.
Feige, when asked about the possibility of supporting characters receiving their own film at some point, stated following:
We’ve announced the next nine movies, 10 counting Civil War, through the end of 2019. Where we go beyond that are ongoing discussions that we’ll focus on in the next few years because we have a lot to do before then. 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.
Feige isn't promising that it'll happen, but it does seem like an announcement is just a formality at this point. Johansson's star power is formidable, and the Marvel Studio's brand appears unstoppable right now. The two are quite a potent combination and I think it would be a mistake not to capitalize on the duo's potential. I want, and I think, we need more variety in our hero leads. Marvel is making strides with Black Panther, Captain Marvel and The Wasp being added to Ant-Man. Black Widow should happen as well. I want to see it, but what should it look like?
The easiest way to incorporate a Black Widow film into the MCU would be to create it as a prequel. Keep thing simple and grounded while focused on espionage and assassins. The story could focus on Widow's origins and early days without having to worry about fitting into the current MCU timeline.
Personally, however, I'd rather we keep Widow's story moving forward. Prequels are fine and have their place, but generally speaking, I prefer to have a character continue to grow and move forward, rather than backwards. This doesn't mean however, that the story can't involve her past in some fashion. The utilization of flashbacks can hit the prequel spot while keeping Widow kicking ass in MCU real-time.
Widow can hold her own against most, but she's more than a fighter, she's a spy. Keep it in the present and tell it as an espionage thriller. It should be a globe-hopping, secret-unraveling, white-knuckle adventure that focuses heavily on Widow's character. Let Johansson anchor the film and do the heavy lifting. A well-rounded cast with quality supporting characters is important, but this should be Widow's show.
One way of expanding Widow's story and simultaneously giving closure to her past is to incorporate the Red Room and all it entails. You can also include elements from more recent comics. Widow's journey could lead her to receiving advanced biotechnology and/or a variant of the super-soldier serum. More over, maybe Widow contained the serum this entire time, but it has remained dormant and isn't activated until the events of her film. Widow is clearly more than capable without such enhancements but using them could propel her into a different stratosphere of heroine.
Incorporating the Red Room and it's villainous operators into Widow's current situation could be the ideal match. A Widow film in Phase 3 seems highly unlikely buy the current landscape is actually a great time to follow her on a solo adventure. She is currently a fugitive on the lam from the U.N. Panel and its approved Avengers (themselves also in shambles). She's cut off and vulnerable. This provides the perfect pretext for Widow to fly solo. The climate and timing is right for such an adventure.
I'm just brainstorming now, but what about a moderate, Russian politician discovering that the Red Room and its shadowy handlers are still active. The politician is a reformer and wants to enact change but has few to turn to. Due to Widow's global notoriety via to the Accords and the S.H.I.E.L.D. intel dump, Widow is tracked down by the authorities. The politician uses this as an opportunity, and subterfuge ensues. He offers her a safe haven in exchange for taking down the Red Room. Friends become enemies. Enemies become friends. Secrets are revealed.
This could also be a prime opportunity to include a mid-range blockbuster on the slate. More and more films are becoming enormous event films as the mid-range films dwindle. Ant-Man fared just fine for an unknown, "smaller" film. It had the Marvel Studios brand and a charismatic lead and supporting cast. Black Widow should be able to operate on a similar budget, but with bigger returns. Feige said at one point that he'd want a film released every quarter. Having one of those films be smaller, at least as far as superhero films go, could be one way of accomplishing that.
Unfortunately, the schedule is tight. Maybe Marvel could make room, but they have their hands full: they have two films in post, 2 currently filming, 2 more in deep pre-production, and 2 more after that. It would be a nice surprise if they pull it off. Yet, who knows what the landscape will look like after Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4? An even better opportunity may present itself. That being said, Marvel should be careful not to wait too long.