This past weekend, Captain America: Civil War headed into theaters to tear the Avengers apart. Friend will fight friend (though some will pull their punches.) New alliances will be made, and old bonds will be broken. Whether this internal conflict will leave the world”s superheroes more vulnerable to a gauntlet-wielding Thanos remains a mystery.* But while the MCU continues to hurtle forward towards the Infinity War, they”ve laid so many seeds for a Black Widow movie that it almost feels like they”re taunting us…almost.
*Worst mystery ever.
I say almost because Kevin Feige and Marvel finally seem on board with the idea of Black Widow can have a viable solo outing. Maybe they were swayed by Scarlett Johansson”s box office powers with Lucy. Maybe the poll revealing fans want a stand-alone Black Widow movie more than anything else changed their minds. Or maybe getting Ike Perlmutter – who was behind the drought of Black Widow merchandise – out of the MCU decision-making process was the catalyst. Whatever the reason, Feige has promised Widow”s day in the sun is coming. Speaking to Deadline:
We”ve announced the next nine movies, 10 counting Civil War, through the end of 2019. Where we go beyond that are ongoing discussions that we”ll focus on in the next few years because we have a lot to do before then. Of the characters that you”ve just mentioned I would say certainly the one creatively and emotionally that we are most committing to doing is Black Widow.
We think she”s an amazing character. We think Scarlett Johansson”s portrayal of her is amazing. She”s a lead Avenger and has amazing stories in her own right to tell that we think would be fun to turn into a stand-alone franchise.
But what would a Black Widow movie look like at this point in the MCU game anyway? A 1980s spy thriller mixed with modern-day Jason Bourne, if the context clues dropped from Captain America: The Winter Soldier onward are any indication. Yes, that would mean Natasha is older than she looks (or she has a fantastic skin care regimen). But if you piece together the puzzle left by Black Widow”s character arc throughout the films, add a dash of Agent Carter, then glue it all in together with context from the comics, and the intriguing picture begins to form.
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS FOR CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR BEYOND THIS POINT.
First, we need to back up. Just what do we know about the MCU version of Natasha and her role as the Black Widow? Quite a bit. We know she was scooped up by the KGB and entered into the Red Room program. For decades, that secret Russian project used questionable techniques to churn out the best assassins in the world. We know from screenshots of the Avengers dossiers that Natasha was born on November 22, 1984. Supposedly. If that birthdate is accurate, she would”ve been a child spy for the KGB just before the fall of the Soviet Union. We know Natasha tried to fail her final exams on purpose to avoid graduating the Red Room. We know “Madame B.” saw through the ruse. We know at some point Nat met Hawkeye, that he saved her, and is probably part of the reason she finally got up the courage to defect from Russia. This may have all gone down in Budapest. Finally, we know Natasha had a run-in with the Winter Solider while on a mission from Iran to Odessa five years before Captain America: The Winter Soldier. While she doesn”t elaborate, based on the timeline, the mission was probably for S.H.I.E.L.D. We can infer from her “At least recognize me” quip as she fights a brainwashed Bucky in Captain America: Civil War that she and the Winter Solider have gotten…intimate. Which lines up with their comic counterparts.
What don”t we know about the Black Widow? Everything else. Her childhood, whatever she did to Drakov”s daughter, if her relationship with Bucky was legitimate or part of one (or both) of their missions. Who her real parents are. What her time at the Red Room Academy was like and why she began to have doubts about her place within the organization. If she ever had real friends. If she even remembers a time before the Red Room. If Natasha Romanoff is even her real name and if she”s really only 34 years old. So many missing details.
Fans have gotten more answers for the criminally understated Agent Carter show on ABC than from the MCU. It was there we learned more about the eccentric tics and ruthless tactics the girls learned, whether they wanted to or not. An assassin going by the name Dottie Underwood was one the first generation of graduates. Marvel rarely does anything on accident, so I find it strange that Steve and Bucky were reminiscing about a red-head named Dot that Bucky tried to impress at the fair. Maybe it was just to solidify that the Winter Soldier has a thing for red-heads, but could Dottie and Bucky have met before? If it was a post-serum Steve Rogers on shore leave, Dottie could”ve been in disguise and under orders to investigate him.
The MCU has barely touched on the Soviet Union”s attempts at matching America”s super solider serum. But the girls of the Red Room could easily be retconned into being the Russian equivalent of Steve Rogers. Or maybe Natasha was their Steve, the only girl to ever “take” properly to the formula.
Using that first idea, if Dottie was aging slow enough, she could be Natasha”s mother. She could even be the infamous Madame B. that trained Natasha through the program. Perhaps Dottie”s loyalty to her daughter was why the sterilization process was implemented as part of “graduation.” If Widow is aging slower due to the serum, she could”ve been born in the 1960s, thus making her stint as a KGB agent make more sense than “child assassin.” Especially since she didn”t graduate the Red Room until she looked like Scarlett Johansson. Perhaps Dottie started the Red Room back up as an independant operation and the girls only thought they were working for Mother Russia. The possibilities are virtually limitless. And now with both Scarlet Witch and Tony Stark”s memory tech on the table, the moment is ripe to rip open Black Widow”s past and discover it was all a lie, sending her down the rabbit hole looking for answers.
You know, like Jason Bourne.