Marvel was always going to make a Black Widow movie, eventually, because at a certain point it just becomes money left on the table. Following Wonder Woman’s success in 2017, now is apparently when the money is on the table, and Marvel wants their cut. (They’ve talked enough about a Black Widow movie over the years to be like, Oh no, we were always working on this, but the timing is pretty clearly due to the Wonder Woman halo effect.) And I think this time it’s actually happening, as Marvel has gone so far as to hire a writer, Jac Schaeffer, who landed on the Blacklist with an action comedy called The Shower. (We’re going to be selective and not hold Olaf’s Frozen Adventure against her, especially if that’s the door she sidled through to get the Black Widow gig.) Hiring a woman to write the movie is a good start. Marvel is now two-for-two hiring women to shape stories for lady heroes.
What interests me, beyond Marvel finally committing to a Black Widow movie, is the assumption that Scarlett Johansson will still be playing Natasha Romanov by the time this movie comes out. ScarJo’s contract ended a few movies back, and Marvel has been negotiating with her, as they do with RDJ, picture-to-picture, so it’s not like she’s on the hook for a certain number of films. But with the OG Avengers’ stories winding down in the next couple years, it seemed she would exit with everyone else after Avengers 4. A solo film, though, is worth sticking around for, although ScarJo has always seemed happy in the sweet spot of getting superhero attention, and the accompanying career-boost, without the pressure of carrying one of these movies herself. She did hit a little bit of a rough patch in 2017, though, and headlining a Black Widow film is an easy way to reclaim her place as an A-list action star.
Here’s my question for the Black Widow movie: what is the impact of Red Sparrow? Go back to that Red Sparrow trailer, and the striking similarity in backstory between Natasha Romanov and Jennifer Lawrence’s character in Red Sparrow. It’s virtually identical—they even have the same Color + Creature title formula. Let’s say Red Sparrow is successful—does that take a little wind out of the sails of a Black Widow movie, since the characters seem so goddamn similar? Everyone’s like, Marvel could have been first, they could have beaten Wonder Woman to the screen, but I’m over here wondering if a Jennifer Lawrence spy thriller is about to get the drop on Black Widow. Marvel will make the movie either way, but it will be interesting to see how a Black Widow movie plays in a world where she’s not the only female superhero, and she’s not even the only Russian super-spy assassin with a gross/tragic backstory.