Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff first appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2010, a time when the only other established heroes (within the continuity) were Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, and James Rhodes. The character, played by Scarlett Johansson, has since appeared in multiple supporting roles between the Avengers and Captain America films, peppering her signature head-spinning, 720-degree locking moves on the baddies. Nevertheless, the character caught up with death itself in Avengers: Endgame, performing the ultimate sacrifice so that her ‘family’ could live.
This on-screen situation posed a problem with fans when her solo film was announced last year. Taking place between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, many questioned as to what could possibly be left for the Russian spy to offer after witnessing her cruel fate at the bottom of Vormir. However, the director of Black Widow, Cate Shortland has a different opinion altogether.
In an interview with Empire, Shortland explained that the prequel-game she was playing actually gave her more freedom with composing Natasha’s story.
The timing was really liberating. I wanted to give her justice. It gave us this feeling like, ‘I’ve got one chance and I really want people to understand her and to feel empathy for her,’ because often what you see is a very fetishised construct. We wanted to get under her skin.” That meant delving back into her past and reuniting her with her former Russian ‘family’
Scarlett Johansson also weighed in on her superhero journey, dubbing it a ‘constant’ in her life, and noting that the new film brought new layers of depth to the former KGB operative.
I don’t really have the perspective on it yet. I think it will take some time for it to sink in. It’s been such a constant in my life for a decade of time. Every 18 months, coming back to this family and continuing the journey with everyone… I think we all probably have mixed feelings about it, at least in specific scenes, but I really had a sense of accomplishment [after Black Widow wrapped filming]. I feel like I tried it all this time around. I really got to go to all those uncomfortable places and explore certain recesses of her.
Black Widow’s solo-film has been a long-time coming, and it’s only fair that after a decade, the character gets the top-billing she deserves. After all, Natasha not only brawled with mercenaries and defective agents, she also held her own in the Battle of New York, against a robot army, and challenged members of Thanos’ Black Order, thus proving her mettle. The human? Nah. That was a mere husk. It’s the redemptive drive and spirit that makes her a much more potent force to any outside threat that dares mess with Earth.
Getting a chance to prove that with a new cast and characters along with facing off against an Avengers-level threat sounds like a whole lot of fun to me. Her new/old ‘family’ consisting of Florence Pugh’s Yelena Bellova, David Harbour’s Alexei Shostakov aka the Red Guardian, and Rachel Weisz’s Melina Vostokoff, has shown to be a great dynamic for Natasha as seen in the trailers. So, while Natasha is desperate to wipe out that red, dripping ledger, she’s not alone.