The Marvel Cinematic Universe reached the end of its first saga with Avengers: Endgame. With the Infinity Saga done, Thanos defeated, and some key original Avengers either dead or retired, Phase 4 of the MCU is a true fresh start for the franchise. However, that's not the story that Marvel's chosen to tell with Black Widow. Thanks to the obvious complication of Endgame killing off Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff (and not giving her a funeral), the Black Widow solo film is set in the MCU's past. The coronavirus pandemic forced Black Widow to delay release until November. With over a year having passed since Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home teased the MCU's future - is Black Widow's trip down memory lane going to be enough?
Granted, off the bat, we don't know the full scope of Black Widow's story. We know the basic premise: somewhere in the years between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Natasha was on the run, but called to reunite with her old Russian special ops unit for a mission. That "family" includes her sister Yelena (Florence Pugh), den mother Melina (Rachel Weisz), and Soviet Super Soldier Red Guardian (David Harbour). While the timeline is set in the past, subplots about a new Black Widow program, and the involvement of the masked villain Taskmaster, suggest Black Widow could open a lot of new doors to the MCU's future.
That large caveat aside, the question still remains: what are fans going to be most interested in, come November (and hopefully not later) of this year? When Black Widow was hitting theaters just under a year after Spider-Man: Far From Home, Natasha's death was still fresh in fans minds, as were all the events and fallout of Avengers: Endgame. Giving Black Widow a solo spotlight was seen as a timely conciliation prize for the character, given how unceremonious her ending was in Endgame. But now we live in a much different world, and people have much different needs and expectations. A blockbuster movie is now measured on a much different scale of worthiness - as in, is it worth the new set of risks that come with it.
After so much time removed, a Black Widow epilogue doesn't necessarily look as shiny as a new Phase 4 story, in a post-Endgame MCU. It's not just new movies like Eternals and Shang-Chi that Black Widow is contending with - it's the arrival of MCU event series on Disney+, like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision, which were both slated for 2020 release. So far, there's been no official delay of the Marvel Disney+ series, which means fans could just be enjoying the new world of Phase 4 MCU (from the safety of home) when Black Widow finally arrives with its throwback offerings. And (god forbid) if Disney and Marvel were to pull the film from November, the narrative appeal of Black Widow would be all but moot, at that point.
Right now, a lot of fans are hoping that Marvel Studios will be the force that turns the tide of this disastrous 2020 box office. But is Black Widow the movie to do it? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Here is the full updated schedule of Marvel Cinematic Universe release dates:
- The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Fall 2020)
- Black Widow (November 6, 2020)
- WandaVision (December 2020)
- Eternals (February 2, 2021)
- Loki (Spring 2021)
- Shang-Chi: And the Legend of the Ten Rings (May 7, 2021)
- What If...? (Summer 2021)
- Spider-Man 3 (November 5, 2021)
- Hawkeye (Fall 2021)
- Thor: Love and Thunder (February 11, 2022)
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (March 25, 2022)
- Moon Knight, She-Hulk, and Ms. Marvel Disney+ Series release dates TBA.