Ever since Natasha Romanoff (Scarlet Johansson) was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2010 in Iron Man 2, she has become an iconic femme fatale figure in today's pop culture. Being the first woman to join the Avengers' now-legendary and expansive ensemble, her fate in Avengers: Endgame devastated both fans and casual viewers alike as it marked the end of her strong presence in the 22-film franchise. That's why it's no surprise that fans rejoiced as soon as an official Black Widow movie was announced.
Ahead of the movie's release on 1 May 2020, the final trailer for the Black Widow has finally dropped. We breakdown the deets you might've missed amidst the action-packed sequences (and the tears of joy).
What Natasha's hair tells us about the timeline
As soon as the movie was announced, everyone assumed that it will follow a timeline pre-Endgame. After all, it was made clear that Natasha's really gone following the events of the film. This is why people initially speculated that it will be an origin story, especially since our titular Black Widow is one, if not the most, mysterious characters in the franchise. But based on the trailer, Natasha appears to be narrating her origin story in a mid-Avengers timeline, all while hanging out with a new character, Yelena, played by Florence Pugh (we'll talk more about her later). So what does this say about the movie's storyline? The clue may be in Natasha's hair.
Natasha's hair changed all throughout the Marvel films and indicated certain eras within the Cinematic Universe's timeline. Throughout the trailer, her hair length changes over and over, suggesting that we may be going back and forth between more than just two timelines. It is noticeable, though, that most of the scenes show her with longer hair, following her look in Captain America: Civil War (2016). It's also in her signature red, which shows that the events are set before she went completely blonde for Avengers: Infinity War (2018). This has us thinking: Did Nat go on a side mission without the knowledge of her OG Avengers squad?
Yelena as the new Black Widow?
Marvel's success has always been rooted in the company's ability to drop Easter eggs that would later develop into major plot points into their movies. Could Yelena Belova's introduction in the Black Widow film be one of them? Comic fans would know that Yelena also carried the Black Widow title in the original material, succeeding Natasha Romanoff after she was no longer a Russian spy.
While they're not exactly on good terms in the comics, Yelena and Natasha's relationship may differ in the movie. The trailer suggests that they will be allies in this film, with Yelena even calling Natasha her sister. It's not the first time that Marvel movies took a character from the comics and made it their own.
With more than 10 movies lined up in the future, Marvel might pull a passing-of-the-torch move again with this one, just like Steve Rogers passing his shield to Sam Wilson in Endgame. That, and Florence Pugh's continuous blockbusters (Midsommar, Little Women), clues us in on her potential as a new Marvel superstar.
The movie's big bad is an Avengers copymaster
Natasha's main appeal is that she's the human among supers (like Hawkeye). She excels and remains badass against powers that go beyond magic or mayhem in the Avengers narrative with only a pistol and her amazing assassin skills to get her by. All this is complementary to the rest of the original Avengers. But what will she do against a villain that cannot only copy her signature moves but also those of her Avenger friends'?
In the final trailer, the villain is revealed to be Taskmaster, who sports a suit similar to Iron Man's, a shield like Captain America's, and even a high-tech arrow like Hawkeye's. Yelena's voice-over explains that Taskmaster now controls the Red Room, the training facility where Natasha grew up in. And we learn that, well, he is not someone to be messed with. In one of the scenes, this iron-clad big bad is also seen watching footage of Natasha's fighting style circa Iron Man 2, suggesting that he may also attempt to copy her as well. With this, they make it seem like the Taskmaster is a regular Marvel fan just like the rest of us. But how will that translate to being a villain who's done his homework?
The Black Widow suit — and image as a heroine — gets an upgrade
We all know Black Widow's minimalist leather outfit by heart by now (maybe some of you even tried to cosplay it at one point). But it looks like it's getting a makeover-slash-upgrade, as was teased in that little detail at the near end of the trailer. We see Nat's silhouette outlined with red details from her new outfit, which serves as a major nod to her original aesthetic in the comics. It also looks more fit for battle as compared to her previous uniform, which has been an object of controversy in the past given its sultry and impractical design. This mirrors the look she sports in the movie's official poster while facing the camera head-on, providing a huge contrast to past Marvel movie posters where she — like most female characters in the franchise — is always shown with her back against the camera.
This may be Marvel's way of correcting their mistakes with Black Widow's representation over the years. While she may have been the first female icon in Marvel's male-dominated superhero franchise, Black Widow was reduced to a sexualised supporting character in the first phase of The Avengers. As the narrative on gender equality changed over the years, she was given more merit as a character. But fans were quick to notice how she was overtaken by Wasp in 2018's Ant-Man and Wasp as the first female hero to headline a Marvel film. Then there was Captain Marvel, the franchise's first female-led superhero movie, in 2019.
Fans view MCU releasing a Black Widow solo film before officially turning a new chapter post-Avengers as Marvel's way to finally do right by their first femme fatale figure. It sure took a while, but by the looks of the trailer, the movie's worthy as the character's one last hurrah.
(Cover photo from: Marvel Studios)
While you wait this out, here are other flicks that champion women, as picked by women.
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