After more than a decade in supporting roles, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is finally getting her own solo adventure – but fans have had to be patient for the much anticipated blockbuster due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Marvel Studios delayed the film by a full year in the hopes that it will enjoy the same box office success as previous entries in the juggernaut franchise, but we now find ourselves just a few months away from its release (again).
Here’s hoping that Black Widow can actually stick the landing this time, but of course that will largely depend on how the fight against COVID-19 develops over the next few weeks.
In the meantime, there are plenty of trailers and images to pour over that offer some tantalising clues about what the spy thriller has in store, while fresh details are also coming in about a number of other upcoming Marvel movies.
Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about Marvel’s Black Widow.
Black Widow release date
CONFIRMED: Black Widow will be released in cinemas on 7th May 2021, roughly a full year since its originally planned launch date.
In an interview with Marie Claire, Scarlett Johansson gave her thoughts on the film’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 film in an undisclosed role.
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MARVEL ????!!! I can finally tell you guys! For the last 3 weeks, I have been in the UK filming my part for the movie: Black Widow (Marvel Studios) ????. This year in January, for the first time in my life I started to join castings for movies, who would have thought that I got to start with ''The King's Man'', then of to ''Gangs of London (HBO)'' and now Black Widow (Marvel). If someone in 2018 told me my career in the movie industry would start like this, I would have called an ambulance for him ????. It has always been my dream to do something with my size. Can't wait for all the releases in 2020. Food credit: @musclemeatnl ???? Photo credit: @gemmy.woudbinnendijk Ps. photo is not my character in this Film. #thedutchgiant #musclemeatnl #fitness #actor #acting #pinewoodstudios #marvel #marvelstudios #waltdisney #waltdisneypictures
Interestingly, we’re yet to hear who will be playing the film’s villain, Taskmaster (see below), meaning their identity could be a surprise twist reveal.
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 film’s release to find out Taskmaster’s true identity.
— La Cosa Cine (@lacosacine) November 9, 2020
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 film 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.
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 film 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 Total Film, 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 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.”
Natasha will also be donning a new white version of her traditional outfit, which was first spotted in the film’s fleeting Super Bowl TV spot.
How will Black Widow connect with 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.
Who is Black Widow director Cate Shortland?
Black Widow is directed by Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland, whose previous work has been on smaller indie films 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.
Fun fact: More then 65 directors have met for the BLACK WIDOW job. Marvel being extremely thorough on this one
— Justin Kroll (@krolljvar) May 2, 2018
Black Widow trailer
Yes, there are three trailers for Black Widow which we have queued up for you below. It’s worth noting that these promotional teasers were made prior to the coronavirus outbreak, so the release date at the end of each one is now incorrect.
Fans wanting to see the martial arts villain Taskmaster in action should have a watch of this shorter special look teaser:
The final trailer for Black Widow, released all the way back in March 2020, showcases more of the film’s blockbuster action while also offering more insight into friends and foes from Natasha’s past.
Black Widow posters
The main theatrical poster for Black Widow was unveiled on the film’s official Twitter account in March 2020, roughly two months before the film’s originally intended release date.
— Black Widow (@theblackwidow) March 9, 2020
Marvel has also released a series of character posters focusing on the main four characters in the film, played by Johansson, Pugh, Weisz and Harbour.
— Marvel Studios (@MarvelStudios) February 3, 2020
Black Widow is released in cinemas in May 2021. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.