Marvel has done it again: facing an unpredictable foe, one of their Avengers is part of a story designed to keep fans guessing right up until the last moment, when a surprise twist might or might not happen. This isn't a description of WandaVision, though, but the studio's release strategy for Black Widow, which has already been significantly delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fate of which will, apparently, be a "last-minute decision" depending on how the theatrical landscape looks in May, when the movie is currently scheduled to finally make its way to the big screen, according to Disney CEO Bob Chapek.
The movie is going to be in theaters, at least as far as we know. The question, really, is whether it will be "only in theaters" or whether it will come to Disney+ or some other platform at the same time. Of course, there is always the possibility that the movie could be once again delayed to accommodate a theatrical-exclusive release date down the line.
"Our situation and our conditions change," Chapek told Bloomberg. "Just a few weeks ago, theaters in New York and Los Angeles weren't even open. Now, all of a sudden they’re open, so we're waiting to see how prospective theatergoers respond to these reopenings. We're going to remain flexible. We'll make the call probably at the last minute in terms of how these films come to market, whether it's Black Widow or any other title."
The film, which was originally slated for a May 2020 release, has been delayed twice before -- first to November of 2020 and then to May of 2021. The nature of the vast, interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe, which releases at least two movies move years in theaters, means that each new delay for Black Widow creates a cascading effect of delays for other Marvel tentpoles, which then in turn force other major Disney releases to move as well.
Up until this point, each new delay has raised questions about a possible digital release on Disney+, but Disney has steadfastly maintained that Marvel movies would not head to Disney+, with Chapek only recently conceding that it may turn out to be a necessary evil.
WandaVision is currently streaming on Disney+. The rest of 2021's line-up includes The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which is scheduled to premiere on Disney+ on March 19th, Black Widow in theatres on May 7th, Loki debuting on Disney+ in May, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in theatres on July 9th, What If... on Disney+ this summer, Eternals in theatres on November 5th, Ms. Marvel and Hawkeye coming to Disney+ later in the year, and Marvel's Spider-Man 3 in theatres on December 17th.
Are you looking forward to finally getting to see Black Widow? Let us know in the comments how you're feeling about the latest development in one of Marvel's longst-running sagas.