When Black Widow was delayed from May to November, it created the longest gap between Marvel films since it was bought out by Disney in 2009. Fans have been filling the time with Avengers: Endgame rewatches, especially once the film arrived on Disney+. But seeing Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff, die in Endgame again merely had fans asking more questions, starting with why her character’s standalone film would come after the character’s demise. It’s also given life to a major fan theory that asks, is Florence Pugh the next Black Widow? It turns out, fans may be right.
Of course, fans know, in practical terms, why a standalone Black Widow movie didn’t come during Phase II when fans first clamored for it, or early Phase III when the film will be set. Marvel Cinematic Universe president, Kevin Feige, has openly discussed his issues with former Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, who refused to consider any films that didn’t star white male superheroes. But even so, it is awkward that Phase IV would open with what is essentially a throwback to the middle of the now-finished Infinity Saga. How does this film move the larger story forward?
The most logical conclusion is Natasha’s return to her first "found family" gives the series a chance to introduce a new Black Widow. In a new interview, Black Widow‘s director, Cate Shortland, hints that’s the case.
The Black Widow title isn’t singular to Romanoff. The USSR’s Black Widow program created dozens of assassins, including Melina Vostokoff and Yelena Belova, who are played by Rachel Weisz and Florence Pugh. And it seems Pugh’s Belova is being set up to take Romanoff’s place in the Avengers line up.
Director Cate Shortland’s comments also point that way. Speaking to Empire Magazine, Shortland said:
Moving to Yelena Belova for the new Black Widow role makes a lot of sense., She’s the most well-known alternate version of the character, having appeared in the comics for decades. A version of Belova was even introduced as a 1950s-era Black Widow in Marvel’s Agent Carter.
If fans are reading this right, that means Pugh, who was just nominated for an Oscar for Little Women last year, is now the newest member of Disney’s biggest franchise to date. And Phase IV just got a lot more interesting in the MCU.
Black Widow is currently scheduled to arrive in theaters on Nov 6, 2020.
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