‘Black Widow’: What you need to know before watching Marvel’s latest movie

Adrian Wong
  • MCU fans rejoice as Natasha Romanoff, played by Scarlett Johansson, gets her long-awaited big-screen moment
  • After more than a year of delays, the film opens on July 7 in Hong Kong, and on July 9 in the US and on Disney+
Adrian Wong |

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Scarlett Johansson in what is most likely her final appearance as the Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios

The following story contains spoilers for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

A decade after the release of the original Avengers (2012) movie, the original line-up’s only female member, played by Scarlett Johansson, is finally getting her stand-alone film. But before you rush to see Marvel’s Black Widow on the big screen, we’re answering some of your questions so you can walk into the cinema with an idea of what’s going on.

First things first, this is not your typical origin story. Sure, we might see some elements from Natasha Romanoff’s past, but the film is set after the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016) and prior to Avengers: Infinity War (2018).

In a video with IGN, Scarlett Johansson explains that Black Widow returns to Russia for some “unfinished business ... and family”. Based on the trailer, the hero is going to face her history as a spy as she finds herself on the run from someone that won’t stop until she is eliminated.

Why she deserves her own film

After many Marvel movies that have lacked positive representation of women and people of colour, Black Widow has finally become a strong role model for young girls – but only after Johansson had fought for years for this character to be more than just a sexy sidekick. And after carrying the emotional weight of many of the other Avengers, her story deserves resolution.

Directed by Cate Shortland, the first solo female director of an MCU film, this film challenges the sexism and objectification which surrounded Black Widow’s earlier MCU appearances. That alone should be deserving.

How she became an Avenger and ... wait, isn’t she dead?

She is a former Russian operative who does not need any superpowers to be a force to be reckoned with. Originating from the Red Room, which specialised in turning young girls into weapons of destruction, Black Widow escaped with the help of Hawkeye (Clint Barton), an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is a fictional counterterrorism government agency.

After her first appearance in Iron Man 2 as a member of S.H.I.E.L.D., Black Widow later joined the Avengers. But in Avengers: Infinity War, she sacrificed herself so the other heroes could get the Soul Stone and defeat the villain Thanos.

Fortunately for her, this movie takes place before Infinity War, a time when she is alive and (mostly) well.

Why comic-book fans should jump for joy

Comic-book character Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) is getting her first appearance in the MCU. Like Natasha, Yelena was also trained in the Red Room as a Black Widow, and in the movie, she plays a sister figure to the hero we’ve come to know and love over the years.

At the film’s red carpet premiere, Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, said Yelena has been a character he has wanted to bring into the MCU for “many, many years”. In the comics, Yelena was introduced in Inhumans in January 1999 as the New Black Widow and became a recurring antagonist as a member of the villain group, A.I.M.

Another popular character from the comics, Taskmaster, will be making his appearance on the big screen. In the movie, almost nothing is known about the character except that he can mimic anyone’s fighting style, and that he is the commander of the Red Room.

Hopefully, we’ve hyped you up and prepared you for watching Black Widow, so don’t miss the chance to see what is most likely Johansson’s last appearance in the MCU.

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