It’s been years in the making, but the long-awaited BLACK WIDOW movie is almost here! On December 3, Marvel released the first trailer for the standalone film featuring Scarlett Johansson’s Avengers hero, Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow. The Black Widow solo film is one of several high-profile superhero movies hitting theatres in 2020, but prior to this trailer, audiences had seen virtually nothing from the film.
BLACK WIDOW will kick off the summer movie season and Marvel's Phase Four when it opens on May 1, 2020. This trailer is a terrific teaser for the action to come. Let’s take a closer look at BLACK WIDOW and break down some key moments and characters in this first trailer. (Note: This article contains spoilers for AVENGERS: ENDGAME.)
[Video credit: Marvel Studios]
The trailer begins with scenes from previous AVENGERS movies, as Natasha (Johansson) narrates. “I used to have nothing, and then I got this job – this family. But nothing lasts forever.” In between scenes, Natasha stares at herself in the mirror as she recalls her life with the Avengers. She speaks with someone who may be General Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt), originally introduced way back in THE INCREDIBLE HULK back in 2008. We see Ross, looking much younger than we’re used to seeing him, which means that we're probably looking at a flashback. Whoever the man she's talking to is, he wants to know Nat's next move; she says she’s done running from her past. She’s going back to Budapest.
We see Nat in the famous Keleti Station in Budapest, and, in a very classic-style apartment, she gently taunts and then confronts a mysterious young woman, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh). Yelena is clearly also an assassin trained by the same Black Widow program as Natasha. We can see that as they fight, mirroring each other's moves exactly.
“We have unfinished business,” Natasha says. “We have to go back to where it all started,” presumably referring to the program that turned them into killing machines. There’s even a brief shot of what appear to be several female recruits being trained in the “Red Room,” a part of the Black Widow program that Natasha’s mentioned in the past. We also meet a couple of other key BLACK WIDOW characters: A pair of allies played by Rachel Weisz (THE FAVOURITE) and David Harbour (“Stranger Things”).
Let's back up for a second. How is Natasha alive?! That’s probably your biggest question, given that the beloved Avengers hero died in ENDGAME. She sacrificed herself to collect the important Soul Stone so the remaining Avengers could defeat intergalactic mega-villain Thanos. We've mentioned a few flashbacks, but this entire movie is likely to be a flashback.
BLACK WIDOW takes place after the events of 2016’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, which makes it a prequel of sorts. The story sheds some light on what Natasha was up to between CIVIL WAR (when the Avengers were all fighting each other) and INFINITY WAR (when they were all fighting Thanos). The Black Widow solo movie should also pull back the shroud of mystery that has obscured Natasha's past up until now. Finally, we get to see glimmers of her history and learn where she comes from.
Although Natasha refers to Florence Pugh’s character as “sis,” the two women are not actually related. Yep, Yelena Polova, is another Black Widow. Yelena and Natasha formed a sister-like bond that appears to extend to another woman from their past: Melina (Rachel Weisz), a veteran Black Widow spy and science expert who was put through the daunting Red Room training system five times. The lone man at the dinner table in Yelena’s apartment is Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour), aka Red Guardian, Russia’s super-soldier answer to Captain America.
There are a few other key players in BLACK WIDOW: Rick Mason, a potential love interest and an ally of Natasha’s from her days as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. He’s played by O-T Fagbenle, best known for his role in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” There’s also the return of Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt), the U.S. Secretary of State who drove a wedge between the Avengers in CIVIL WAR with the introduction of the Sokovia Accords – the international law that would require all super-powered beings to be monitored by the United Nations. When we last saw Ross in INFINITY WAR, he was none too pleased with Natasha and the other Avengers who had gone against the Accords.
There’s still quite a lot we don’t know about the plot of BLACK WIDOW. The major villain seems to be Taskmaster, who is glimpsed briefly in the middle of the trailer. In the comics, Taskmaster is a mercenary and tactical expert with the ability to mimic the fighting styles of his opponents. Thanks to this specific skill set, Taskmaster is often hired by various organizations to train their recruits – which might explain how he factors into BLACK WIDOW. Is Natasha on a mission to take down the program that made her in an effort to make up for the sins of her past? That seems like a solid possibility.
Regardless, we don't know who plays Taskmaster, nor can we say exactly why the trailer cuts directly from Taskmaster to the character played by Rachel Weisz. Ever since the first Black Widow footage premiered last summer at San Diego Comic-Con and the D23 Expo, there have been questions about whether or not Weisz might play the Taskmaster's alter-ego. And if she's not the Taskmaster, what's the story behind Weisz's character?
Among the many reasons to be excited about BLACK WIDOW are the people who brought this long-awaited solo film to the big screen: BLACK WIDOW is directed by Cate Shortland, the award-winning Australian filmmaker behind acclaimed dramas LORE and BERLIN SYNDROME. The film is based on a script by CAPTAIN MARVEL co-writer Jac Schaeffer and THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY writer Ned Benson.
This is only the beginning of the BLACK WIDOW experience, and we can expect to learn more about the movie as it spins towards the May release date.
All images courtesy of Marvel Studios.