Avengers: Age of Ultron/Marvel

Casting news, release date, behind-the-scenes updates, and more.

Ever since Scarlett Johansson made her Marvel debut in Iron Man 2, fans have clamored for a Black Widow movie. The pressure mounted as Marvel announced more films with male leads, with Captain Marvel (2019) as the first female-led franchise.

For a while, it seemed like Black Widow would never happen. Then in January 2018, Marvel hired a screenwriter to develop the spinoff. Here’s everything we know about this movie so far.

Everything you need to know about Marvel’s Black Widow movie

black widow movie MarvelEntertainment/YouTube

Black Widow movie release date

The MCU‘s future is still shrouded in mystery, waiting for Avengers 4 to conclude an epic, 22-movie arc. That means the only confirmed upcoming movies are all sequels: Spider-Man: Homecoming 2, Black Panther 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. This leaves several slots open on the calendar, especially if the Thor and Iron Man franchises are over.

At the moment, Marvel has three empty release dates each year in 2020, 2021, and 2022. Some of those will be filled by the aforementioned sequels and, probably, Captain Marvel 2. But there’s still room for Black Widow in there—although probably not before 2021.

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Black Widow movie creative team

Jac Schaeffer will write the script, with no director onboard as of yet. Schaeffer is best known for writing and directing the sci-fi romcom TiMER, an excellent low-budget movie about a gadget that tells people when they’ll meet their soulmate.

We know that Marvel developed other Black Widow ideas in the past, with Guardians of the Galaxy co-writer Nicole Perlman writing a treatment in 2010. However, Schaeffer is the first writer to be made public during the development process.

black widow movie : screenplay Nicole Perlman/Twitter

We can make one educated guess about the director: Marvel will probably hire a woman. After the success of Wonder Woman, there’s more public demand for female creators helming female-led movies. And in that regard, Marvel still lags behind its main rivals at the DC/Warner Bros. franchise.

Joss Whedon said in 2016 that he’d love to direct a Black Widow movie. Considering how the tide has turned on his feminist credentials, this no longer feels likely.

On May 2, Variety‘s Justin Kroll reports that Marvel had met with over 65 potential directors so far.

Cate Shortland (Lore) will direct the Black Widow movie, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Shortland’s appointment—which had support from Johansson—arrives after more than six months of searching for a director, with Marvel making it a priority to hire a woman to direct the film.

Black Widow movie cast

Scarlett Johansson is definitely interested, periodically saying she’s had “conversations” with Marvel about launching a solo spinoff. After speaking with producer Kevin Feige in 2017, she seemed optimistic. She described Black Widow as “a case of timing” between Marvel’s plans and her own schedule. Still, why did it take so long for Marvel to get serious about this movie?

black widow movie : infinity war Avengers: Infinity War/Marvel

Since Johansson is an A-list star, money could be an issue. After completing her original franchise contract, Johansson could demand a bigger paycheck than a newbie like Chris Pratt. Sexism was another factor. While Johansson forged ahead with sci-fi/action movies like Lucy and Ghost in the Shell, it began to feel ridiculous that Marvel hadn’t greenlit a Black Widow movie—or any female-led movies, period. Behind the scenes, Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter may have been to blame.

In a 2014 email, leaked in the Sony email hack, Perlmutter made his opinion on female superheroes clear. Writing to a Sony executive, he listed Elektra, Catwoman, and Supergirl as proof that female-led superhero movies were a “disaster.” Fortunately, he stepped back from Marvel’s creative side in 2015. This may have paved the way for more female-led movies, with Brie Larson cast as Captain Marvel in 2016.

While Johansson is obviously onboard, Black Widow‘s supporting cast remains a mystery. Hawkeye and the Winter Soldier are obvious choices to co-star, with Jeremy Renner saying in 2016 that he’d sign up for a Widow/Hawkeye movie “in two seconds.” Sebastian Stan said in 2018 that he’d “absolutely” like to be in a Black Widow movie, speaking enthusiastically about her Cold War backstory in the comics, and the Winter Soldier’s role as her teacher.

black widow movie : hawkeye The Avengers/Marvel

 

Black Widow movie plot

For a long time, fans automatically assumed that the Black Widow movie would explore Natasha Romanov’s origin story with the Red Room. Following the release of Red Sparrow with Jennifer Lawrence, that no longer seems likely. Red Sparrow bears a close resemblance to Joss Whedon‘s interpretation of Black Widow’s backstory, complete with Russian ballerinas, sexual abuse, and plenty of Cold War-esque betrayal. Marvel won’t want to risk an overlap.

Black Widow could just as easily take place in the present day, or during a more recent place in the Marvel timeline. For instance, we don’t know much about the period immediately after Captain America: The Winter Soldier. There’s also the infamous Budapest incident mentioned in The Avengers; a secret piece of Widow/Hawkeye history.

Of course, a lot hinges on what happens in Infinity War and Avengers 4. For all we know, Natasha Romanov could’ve been a skrull for years.

black widow movie : civil war MarvelEntertainment/YouTube

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Black Widow movie trailer

Obviously, this doesn’t exist yet. But while you’re waiting, enjoy this Black Widow featurette from the original Avengers movie.

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance. 

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested.