When movie fans said farewell to the MCU after the one-two punch of Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home, they wouldn’t have known just how long it would be before they could return.
Black Widow was originally slated for release less than a year after Spidey’s most recent outing, but the coronavirus pandemic has caused a drought in Marvel blockbusters (not counting New Mutants, of course).
As it stands, there’s much uncertainty about the fate of Marvel’s Black Widow movie, which sees Scarlett Johansson’s super-spy take centre-stage for the very first time.
Directed by Cate Shortland and set between Infinity War and Endgame, the much-anticipated blockbuster will explore Black Widow’s origin in Russia and see her reunite with her family (of sorts).
But as the first films released post-pandemic, most notably Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, have struggled to make a major dent at the global box office, there’s rife speculation over whether Disney will roll the dice or hold back.
Here’s everything you need to know about Marvel’s Black Widow (featuring spoilers for Avengers: Endgame).
When is Black Widow released in cinemas?
CONFIRMED: Black Widow’s second UK release date has now been set for 28th October 2020, roughly one week before it’s released in the US on November 6th.
However, there are rumours that the film’s release could change, with many US cinemas still closed and rival superhero flick Wonder Woman 1984 now held back until Christmas.
The latest development comes via Deadline, which reports word from exhibition sources, saying that Disney is considering delaying Black Widow to an unconfirmed date.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on this situation as it develops, so be sure to check back here for the latest updates.
Although the character sacrificed her life in Avengers: Endgame, Scarlett Johansson is reprising her role as Natasha Romanoff for the Black Widow solo movie – a return made possible by its very specific position in the MCU timeline.
An impressive supporting cast has been assembled to play Natasha’s “family” from back home in her native Russia.
Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz (The Favourite) has been cast 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.
After a fantastic year in 2019, which included lead roles in Fighting with My Family, Midsommar and Little Women, up and comer Florence Pugh will co-star in Black Widow as Yelena Belova.
She is another graduate of the KGB spy programme and has a sister-like relationship with Natasha. Some fans are already speculating whether Pugh could inherit the mantle of Black Widow in future Marvel projects…
“[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,” director Cate Shortland 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 one of the heads of the Black Widow training programme.
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 film in an undisclosed role.
Robert Downey Jr will reportedly appear as Tony Stark, but this is said to be only a short cameo using deleted scenes from Captain America: Civil War.
Interestingly, it is yet to be revealed who will be playing the villainous Taskmaster (see below), meaning their true identity could be a surprise reveal…
What is Black Widow about?
In typical Marvel style, the plot of Black Widow has been kept tightly under wraps, but we do know that the film is set between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, when Natasha was on the run from the authorities.
In the trailers released so far, Natasha talks about how she’s going to confront her past and that involves a trip to Russia, where she grew up and learned her fighting skills.
Last year, footage shown at San Diego Comic-Con showed Natasha heading to Budapest (the scene of a formative mission in her youth that’s been mentioned in the Avengers films), where she runs into Pugh’s Yelena before engaging in a brutal one-on-one fight.
Johansson recently described Black Widow as a “family drama” in an interview with Total Film.
“I think part of Kevin Feige’s genius is that he always thinks about what fans expect out of these films 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.”
She had previously told MTV News that iconic movies like The Fugitive, Logan and Terminator 2 were influences on Black Widow.
Natasha will also be donning a new white version of her traditional outfit, which can be seen in the film’s Super Bowl TV spot…
Who is Taskmaster?
Andy Parkart, Director of Visual Development at Marvel Studios, confirmed that Black Widow will see Natasha face the Taskmaster – and no, we don’t mean Greg Davies.
Taskmaster is a Marvel villain who made his comic book debut in 1980 and has since been a nemesis of several popular characters including Deadpool, Ant-Man and Captain America.
Gifted with so-called “photographic reflexes,” Taskmaster only needs to witness something once in order to replicate it perfectly.
For example, if he were to spend a few minutes watching someone fight, he would then be able to expertly mimic their combat style right down to the precise details.
Judging from the recent Black Widow trailers, Taskmaster has been observing a number of MCU favourites, wielding a shield much like Captain America and utilising archery skills similar to those of Hawkeye.
In the comic books, the character wears an intimidating skull mask, but for his first live-action appearance this has been adapted into headgear similar to a biker helmet – effectively keeping his true identity a secret…