While 2021 has already seen two brand new Marvel TV productions on Disney Plus, it’s been a long time since fans were treated to a new big-screen adventure.
The last MCU film to be released in cinemas was Spider-Man: Far From Home all the way back in July 2019, with various releases being hit by pandemic-related delays ever since – but there’s not too long left to wait now.
The upcoming Black Widow solo film has now been given a new release date, while fans have also been treated to several trailers and now some brand new character posters.
The posters show each of the film’s main stars – including Scarlett Johanssen and MCU newcomers Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz and David Harbour – in character, further ramping up the excitement among fans.
Check out the brand-new character posters for Marvel Studios' #BlackWidow. Experience the film in theaters or on @DisneyPlus with Premier Access on July 9. Additional fee required. (1/6) #NatashaRomanoff pic.twitter.com/QUMEPDn323— Black Widow (@theblackwidow) May 10, 2021
Black Widow will be available to watch in cinemas and via Disney+ Premier Access, a special service that allows subscribers to stream theatrical releases from home for an additional fee (usually £19.99 here in the UK).
If you fancy a movie marathon before the film comes out, you can check out how to watch the Marvel movies in order or swot up on the latest details we have on other upcoming Marvel movies as the studio sets off on its ambitious Phase Four plan.
Black Widow release date
Disney has confirmed Black Widow will be released on 9th July 2021, more than a full year since its originally planned launch date.
The movie will be available to watch in cinemas as well as via Disney+ Premier Access, which means paying an additional fee if you’re already a Disney+ subscriber.
In an interview with Marie Claire, Scarlett Johansson gave her thoughts on the movie’s multiple delays, suggesting that it’s the right course of action for these unpredictable times.
“We’re all eager to get the movie out, but more important than anything, everybody wants the experience to feel safe, to have people be able to really feel confident about sitting in an enclosed theatre,” she said.
Black Widow cast
Scarlett Johansson will return to the role of Natasha Romanoff for the Black Widow movie, which will delve into her troubled upbringing in Russia, before her days as a SHIELD agent and Avenger.
An impressive supporting cast has been assembled to play Natasha’s chosen family, including Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz (The Favourite) as Melina Vostokoff, a fellow spy and product of the Black Widow training programme.
Meanwhile, Stranger Things star David Harbour will play Alexei Shostakov, also known as Red Guardian, who was the Soviet Union’s attempt at creating a super soldier like Captain America.
Additionally, star on the rise Florence Pugh (Little Women) will co-star in Black Widow as Yelena Belova, a younger spy who has a sister-like relationship with Natasha.
Among a stellar cast, Pugh is one to keep a particularly close eye on, with recent comments from director Cate Shortland suggesting that she could take over the Black Widow mantle going forward.
“[Kevin Feige] realised that the audience would expect an origin story so, of course, we went in the opposite direction and we didn’t know how great Florence Pugh would be,” she said.
“We knew she would be great, but we didn’t know how great. Scarlett is so gracious, like, ‘Oh, I’m handing her the baton.’ So it’s going to propel another female storyline.”
Rounding out the supporting cast are O-T Fagbenle (The Handmaid’s Tale) as SHIELD agent Rick Mason and Ray Winstone (The Departed) as Dreykov, one of the heads of the Black Widow training programme.
The latter has previously been referenced in 2012’s The Avengers, when Loki attempts to get into Black Widow’s head by reciting moments from her dark past, including something to do with “Dreykov’s daughter”.
William Hurt will reprise his role as General Ross, whose previous MCU appearances include The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.
Bodybuilder Olivier Richters, nicknamed The Dutch Giant because of his massive 7ft 2in frame, has also joined the movie in an undisclosed role.
Interestingly, we’re yet to hear who will be playing the movie’s villain, Taskmaster (more on that below), meaning their identity could be a surprise twist reveal.
Black Widow plot: What is Black Widow about?
In typical Marvel style, much of Black Widow’s plot has been kept tightly under wraps, but we do know that the movie will see Natasha confront her dark past by returning to her native Russia, where she was trained to be a deadly weapon.
Johansson has described Black Widow as a “family drama” in an interview with GamesRadar, as it sees her super spy character reunite with several important figures from her upbringing.
“I think part of Kevin Feige’s genius is that he always thinks about what fans expect out of these movies and then gives them something that they never could’ve dreamed of,” she said.
“The idea of Natasha Romanoff in a family drama is the least expected thing, and I had to wrap my head around what that was going to be because there’s such a big tonal shift.”
Natasha will also be donning a new white version of her traditional outfit, which was first spotted in the movie’s fleeting Super Bowl TV spot.
Black Widow trailer
A new Black Widow trailer has been launched to mark the film’s latest release date, which will see it arrive simultaneously in cinemas and on Disney Plus.
Impressively, Marvel Studios has managed to avoid giving too much away about the film, despite having to make more teasers than originally intended due to unforeseen setbacks caused by the pandemic.
The latest teaser focuses on the formative years of Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), interspersing clips of the adult Black Widow we know so well with those of her younger self (played by Milla Jovovich’s daughter, Ever Anderson).
Johansson has previously described the film as a “family drama” and that certainly comes through here, as the super-spy has some tough conversations with adoptive sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) and mother figure Melina (Rachel Weisz).
But of course, we can still expect plenty of classic Marvel action, with mysterious villain Taskmaster also getting plenty of screentime in the latest trailer – although the identity of the person behind the mask remains a mystery.
There are several older trailers for Black Widow that are also still available to watch, but it’s worth noting that the release dates shown in these teasers are now incorrect following the film’s pandemic-related delays.
If you’re keen to see more of the mysterious martial arts villain Taskmaster, a fan favourite foe from the comics books, you should have a watch of this shorter “special look” teaser:
This trailer for Black Widow, which had once been intended as the final one, showcases the movie’s blockbuster thrills, while also offering more insight into friends and enemies from Natasha’s past.
Who is Taskmaster?
Natasha Romanoff will face off against a classic Marvel villain in her first solo movie, that being the martial arts expert and ruthless mercenary, Taskmaster. (No relation to the Greg Davies panel show).
So who is Taskmaster? Real name Tony Masters, the character made his debut in 1980 when he attempted to take down the Avengers and has since been a recurring enemy for Deadpool and Captain America, among others.
Gifted with so-called photographic reflexes, Taskmaster only needs to witness something once in order to replicate it perfectly – an ability which has allowed him to master a wide variety of skills and combat styles.
The recent Black Widow trailers have given us a taste of this, showing Taskmaster wielding a shield much like Captain America and demonstrating archery skills of a similarly high caliber to those of Hawkeye.
In the comic books, the character wears an intimidating skull mask, but for his live-action appearance this has been adapted into headgear similar to a protective biker helmet.
In November 2020, some new images of the character were released as part of Black Widow: The Official Movie Special Book, including concept art and several stills.
One image shows Taskmaster heavily armoured and carrying a sword and shield, while another sees the villain facing off against Black Widow.
However, there has been little indication of who is behind the armour and it seems as if fans will have to wait until the movie’s release to find out Taskmaster’s true identity.
Is Black Widow a prequel?
**SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS: ENDGAME**
Those who are up to date with their MCU happenings will be well aware that Black Widow sadly sacrificed her life in the war against Thanos during the latest Avengers crossover movie.
With that in mind, it should come as little surprise that her first solo outing is indeed a prequel, but rather than heading all the way back to her early years, the movie has carved out a more recent and specific place in the MCU timeline.
Black Widow is set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, shortly after Romanoff turns her back on Tony Stark’s government sanctioned Avengers team and goes on the run.
Stark himself is rumoured to make a brief appearance, albeit through recycling an unreleased scene from Civil War, rather than shooting brand new material.
How will Black Widow fit into the MCU?
Although it may be a prequel, Black Widow will still hold major ramifications for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, particularly in the introduction of Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova.
Fans have long speculated that she could inherit Black Widow’s position on the Avengers and Marvel added fuel to the fire when they announced Pugh will also co-star in Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye series on Disney Plus.
Of course, Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff were best friends until the bitter end, so it makes sense that her sister (of sorts) would go to him for answers about her ultimate fate.
With Belova all but confirmed as a new recurring player in the MCU, the door is also open for Melina Vostokoff (Weisz), Red Guardian (Harbour) and Taskmaster to return – assuming they make it out of the Black Widow movie alive.
Will Black Widow be back for future MCU movies? Considering her demise in Endgame and that this prequel should fill us in on all that backstory we’ve been wanting to know about her, we don’t think we will be seeing Scarlett Johansson reprising her role again in the future.
The film’s director has stated too that he believes this could well be the final outing for the character – adding further weight to another longstanding MCU cast member bowing out.
'Black Widow' director says this could be Scarlett Johansson's last MCU film 🕷️ pic.twitter.com/75i8IHfwo9— Fandom (@getFANDOM) March 23, 2021
Who is Black Widow director Cate Shortland?
Black Widow is directed by Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland, whose previous work has been on smaller indie movies such as Berlin Syndrome starring Teresa Palmer (A Discovery of Witches).
Marvel was reportedly “extremely thorough” in its search for the right director, having met with more than 65 people before deciding on Shortland.
The screenplay was written by Eric Pearson, who previously served as a co-writer on fellow MCU entry Thor: Ragnarok.
Black Widow posters
The main theatrical poster for Black Widow was unveiled on the movie’s official Twitter account in March 2020, roughly two months before the movie’s originally intended release date.
Marvel has also released a series of character posters focusing on the main four characters in the movie, played by Johansson, Pugh, Weisz and Harbour.