Once upon a time, fans were excited at the idea of finally getting a standalone Black Widow movie introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but then weeks turned into months, which turned into years, and now the character is dead, so what’s the point? Well, today I hope to find that point while also explaining everything that is currently known about the movie that has been given the daunting task of launching phase 4 of the MCU, if not for you, then at the very least, for me.
Releasing on May 1, 2020, Black Widow will follow Natasha Romanoff after the events of Captain America: Civil War and presumably what leads her to team up with Cap in Avengers: Infinity War. While we won’t be seeing Captain America in this movie, I do think that for the fans of Winter Soldier who loved having the spy genre finally make its way into the MCU will be thrilled at what Black Widow could deliver. While the official plot of the film is still unknown, the cast has been announced as well as the film’s villain and I think that by taking a look at what we know about them may tell us more about the upcoming movie.
I know what you’re thinking, this is literally the one person that hasn’t been announced as a cast member so why am I even bringing him up? Well, I do think it’s important to mention very briefly that production is currently taking place in Budapest and if you remember from the first Avengers film, Clint and Natasha have discussed having a history in the Hungarian city. I’m not saying it’ll happen but the two characters always had such a close bond, it would be nice if this film gave us their final onscreen moments together rather than Endgame.
Another quick one as Winstone is the only big named actor whose character hasn’t been announced. My theory with this character ties back into Endgame where we saw Red Skull inform Black Widow that her father was a man named Ivan. Natasha later tells Clint that she didn’t know that was her father. My personal belief is that Winstone plays a character named Ivan who cares deeply for Natasha and that it isn’t until this moment in Endgame when she and the audience finally connect the dots that he is her father. For the audience in Black Widow, I could easily see him go by a codename and then at the end of the film or whenever he says his goodbyes, he tells her his real name. It’s either that or he’s the Task Master and maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t see the 62 years old actor pulling that off.
The Red Guardian
Originally given to Russian Soldier Aleksey Lebedev by Stalin in World War 2, The Red Guardian was Russia’s answer to Captain America. Later on in the comics, Lebedev would die and The Red Guardian name would die with him until decades later when a man named Alexi Shostakov was given the mantle. Before becoming the Guardian though, Shostakov’s backstory is one that is very interesting when dealing with the history of the Black Widow.
Shostakov was a highly decorated pilot who caught the eye of the KGB. The Russian group then devised a plan to have Shostakov marry Natasha only to then fake his death, causing her to dedicate her life even more to the Red Room, the organization where she was trained to become a super spy. After Alexi’s fake death, he then became The Red Guardian.
The reason I’ve laid out both versions of this character is that in a recent interview with Variety actor David Harbour (Stranger Things) gave some details about his character that very much sound like they are combining the two characters into one. Giving him both a relationship to Natasha, not necessarily being married, but certainly, some type of connection as well as being a Super Soldier. In the interview with Variety, Harbour talks about how his character also has conflicting thoughts about Captain America as well which is interesting considering that the original Red Guardian fought along-side Cap. And on top of all of this with Taskmaster being set up as the big bad in the movie, the question is still up in the air as to whether or not this version of The Red Guardian is a hero, villain, or somewhere in the middle.
One of the few things shown from the movie at San Deigo Comic-Con was a scene showing Natasha referring to Yelena as”sis” while they share a drink at a bar. The other footage shown was the two attacking one another… Maybe it’s a sister thing? Well, more important than out of context footage shown off at Comic-Con is just who Yelena Belova is.
Trained in the Red Room just like Natasha, Yelena actually takes over the mantle of Black Widow after Natasha is killed in the comics by a doppelganger of Captain America. This piece of information I found very interesting. While we know that The Red Guardian isn’t going to kill Natasha, it is an interesting coincidence that there’s a Russian version of Captain America in a movie about a character that was killed by a guy that was just like Cap. This particular nugget of information leads into where I think this film might be going with the character and ultimately the villain of the film: Task Master.
One of the abilities that Yelena eventually gets after being experimented on is the ability to absorb and replicate people’s powers which is very similar to the Taskmaster’s abilities which are to be able to replicate someone’s fighting style after having fought them only one time. Much like how I mentioned with The Red Guardian, Marvel isn’t afraid to tweak a few things about a character, especially if they’re a character from the comics that not a lot of people know about. I think changing Yelena’s powers so that she can secretly be the Taskmaster is very smart and it allows her abilities to be slightly changed so that she’s not just Rogue, a character I’m sure Marvel plans on introducing in the next few years.
After deep-diving into what I believe are the three most important characters other than Natasha herself, I think it’s time to drop my personal theory on where this film might be going and why I’m not actually looking forward to a movie that at the start of all of this I was pretty lukewarm on. And very quickly, yes I’m aware that the amazing Rachel Weisz is in the film but based off of every interview I’ve seen of her talking about her character she’s just playing a veteran Red Room agent whom I’m sure will be involved in a very cool fight scene with Scarlett Johansson.
Now as for my personal theory, I think that if Yelena is, in fact, Taskmaster that we could end up in a situation where she kind of becomes the new Winter Soldier. We’ve already seen that brainwashing is a direction that the MCU is willing to go into, Yelena turning into the Taskmaster could very easily be another Manchurian candidate situation just like Bucky once was. On top of this, I think there are even more possible connections between Yelena and The Winter Soldier. In the comics, after she takes Natasha’s place as Black Widow, Yelena begins traveling around the world taking out every bad guy she can get her hands on which is very similar to what we see Hawkeye do post-snap in Endgame. Ironically, it’s in the comics that Winter Soldier and Clint are the two that track her down and try and stop her from killing any more people.
What if, instead of it being Clint, since we already know he’ll be busy training his daughter in his show, that the person that tracks her down with Bucky is Falcon. While we already have somewhat of an idea about what the Falcon and Winter Soldier show is about (something I’ll be discussing next week) it would be interesting to see some sort of connection with Black Widow and the story that follows it up. If there is a connection and Yelena does, in fact, become the next Black Widow, only this time the character actually has abilities, I think giving us Bucky something to do like trying to help someone that he once was is a really interesting direction for a character who, as far I’m concerned doesn’t really have anywhere to go.
So for those still sticking around, the final theory is, Natasha fights a bunch of women that are also code-named Black Widow, eventually fights Russian Captain America who she may or not have been married to at one point, and after fighting Task Master a couple of times, it’s a moment of life or death for Natasha that results in Yelena no longer being the Taskmaster and fighting alongside Natasha to stop The Red Guardian. Once the Red Guardian is defeated, Yelena, still torn between her true self and her Taskmaster persona, she leaves. We later find out that she was involved in the snap, thus the actress, Florence Pugh can continue playing the character with no concern about having to age her up at all. That’s my theory. Am I right? Probably not. The Taskmaster is probably just some dude that gets killed at the end of the movie because The Red Guardian sacrifices himself to save Yelena and Natasha. I would prefer my idea over that, one because it’s my idea and two because I think Black Widow deserves a great send-off and whether it’s my idea or something even better, I just hope they deliver.