“Black Widow” Movie Adds Another Black Widow!

There’s a lot of news to cover on this front: I would have posted much earlier, when there was a report that Ray Winstone had joined the cast of Marvel’s Black Widow solo movie, but I suspected that a bombshell report would drop in a few days more, so I waited patiently – and I was rewarded.

Black Widow is currently filming in the city of Budapest – an iconic locale in Marvel lore, having been mentioned as the site of some huge battle/catastrophic event by Black Widow herself, and fellow spy Hawkeye, multiple times throughout the Marvel movies. While some maintain that the city is probably being used simply as a stand-in for Russian locations, it gives us at least a little glimmer of hope that we will finally see the origins of this oft-mentioned, never-explained anecdote.

Whether or not we do, we will undeniably see the origins of the Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff – the movie is rumored to be a prequel, exploring Natasha’s years working as a KGB assassin and then as a rogue agent defecting to S.H.I.E.L.D. While this might seem disappointing to fans who want to see the character in the present timeline, you can expect the film to drop all sorts of hints and clues about things that will be very important to the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Marvel president Kevin Feige made this very clear, while also being very vague, when he said, while being interviewed, that, even though he can’t say whether it’s a prequel or not, “there are ways to do prequels where you learn all sorts of things you never knew before”. He actually said quite a few interesting things: I recommend you check it out for yourself here.

Those “things we never knew before” might include all sorts of things – events, big battles, encounters with other superheroes. And that’s what leads us back to Budapest for a minute, just so we can take a look at some very interesting details that might have been inadvertently (or deliberately?) revealed in behind-the-scenes images.

WARNING: this might be considered a spoiler to some, so if you don’t want to know any of the characters who might be in the film, you should go now! Also – Avengers: Endgame spoilers!

The image in questions shows Scarlett Johansson’s stunt double (maybe, we’ll get to that in a moment) riding a motorcycle at dangerously high speed through the streets of Budapest, sporting a long red braid – still no sign of the iconic short red bob-hairstyle that would definitively mark this as a prequel. Her hair still looks very much like how she wore it in her latest appearance in Avengers: Endgame. She’s not alone on the motorcycle: behind her, with arms wrapped around Natasha’s waist, is another woman, with a blond ponytail. She could be anyone, right?

Twitter | @builtfromhope

Well, it could be – except those two women on the motorcycle are apparently stunt dummies, not even stunt doubles. In other words, they’re basically pre-packaged mannequins: who come in packages. Which would necessarily be marked with the name associated with the mannequin inside the package. See where I’m going with this?

Yep, Twitter user @bestofwidows shared pictures of the boxes which apparently carried those dummies – one marked Natasha, the other marked…Yelena.

And the reaction from the general audience is probably similar to Thanos’ when he encounters Scarlet Witch in Endgame“I don’t even know who you are.”

Oh, but you will. Yelena Belova is one of only a handful of well-known characters from the Black Widow comics – a dangerous assassin in her own right, equal to Romanoff in strength and agility, and a student of the Red Room program. Belova has been both a villain and an antihero in her comics appearances, but her most notable run has her initially working against Romanoff, only to team up with her and bring about the defeat of the Red Room. She is virtually a clone of Romanoff in every way, and even uses the moniker “Black Widow”, except that her hair is typically blond. Black Widow actress Scarlett Johansson supposedly had her character dye her hair blond in Avengers: Infinity War as an homage to Yelena Belova – which, naturally, has now begun sparking some rumors that the Black Widow in Infinity War actually was Yelena Belova, and that in this prequel we’ll discover that there never was a Natasha Romanoff or something like that. It’s a cool premise, but highly implausible: more likely is that a young Yelena will be introduced in this upcoming movie and will then make an appearance in the present timeline soon after – similar to how Captain Marvel’s prequel origin film ended with a startling post-credits scene of her arriving at Avengers HQ after the events of Infinity War.

There’s still the slim chance that this movie isn’t, in fact, a prequel: why haven’t we seen Natasha’s classic hairstyle? Why does she seem to be dressed in civilian attire in all the behind-the-scenes photos, such as she wore throughout Avengers: Endgame, rather than her black outfit? I can’t answer those questions yet, but I can propose a theory. Two, in fact.

My first theory relies on the movie being a prequel: I suspect that Budapest is not serving, at least in this case, as a stand-in for a Russian city. I think what we see here is a young Natasha Romanoff rescuing Yelena Belova from the clutches of their KGB captors, trying to bring her into S.H.I.E.L.D custody with her: something will go wrong, and Yelena will not be saved. In this scenario, we might also see Natasha’s friend and lover, Hawkeye, and maybe a team of S.H.I.E.L.D agents attempting to assist the Russian rogues. Ming-Na Wen of the ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has already expressed her wish to be in the Black Widow movie, portraying a younger version of her character, Agent Melinda May. This would be the perfect place to have her appear: and with the recent cameos of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D actors Clark Gregg and Patrick Brennan in Captain Marvel, plus James D’Arcy of the TV show Agent Carter appearing in Avengers: Endgame, it seems like Marvel has begun to embrace its outlying spinoffs for the first time since Avengers: Age of Ultron.

My other theory, while much more unlikely, has basically the same premise, but the setting is now sometime in the post-Endgame universe. Here, Natasha would be brought back to life (there are dozens of theories on how this could be achieved), and would go on a search for her father, Ivan, whose identity was finally revealed to her after years of searching in Endgame, shortly before her death. As one of the last things Natasha would remember, it would make sense for her to try and find her father and any living family members, after being resurrected – this hunt would take her to Russia, where she would run into Yelena Belova and a similarly-resurrected Red Room. It’s unlikely, but still worth mentioning.

Either way, we now know that Yelena Belova is indeed going to be in the Black Widow movie – most likely portrayed by Marvel newcomer Florence Pugh, whose likeness the blond stunt-dummy apparently carries, and who recently arrived in Budapest.

The last bit of news concerning the movie comes from a small, blurry photograph of the film’s first official logo:

Twitter | @ripmarvel

Prepare yourselves for May 2020, folks. We’re in for a ride.

 

You can also watch my video review of this news story on YouTube!

“Black Widow” Begins Filming!

Marvel’s highly-anticipated Black Widow solo movie was expected to begin filming next month, at Pinewood Studios in London, but apparently things have been moving quicker than anticipated, as leaked photos show that Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson has arrived in Norway.

Johansson touched down in the ├śrsta Municipality in a private plane, but cameras still managed to catch a glimpse of her (or, at least, someone who looks identical to her) being driven around the picturesque Norwegian landscape. However, it seems like the actress is here, not for sightseeing, but for filming, as other photos show signs with Black Widow‘s working title “Blue Bayou” written on them in a distinctly Cyrillic typeface. The Russian assassin Natasha Romanoff is clearly on her way to Norway.

@bestofwidows | Twitter

There’s no good reason as to why, just yet, but it’s easy to imagine that Norway, with its fjords, mountains and miles of uncharted wilderness, could be the perfect place for some impressive action sequences, or a secret KGB hideout. Norway is also, notably, where Thor builds New Asgard in Avengers: Endgame, but it seems unlikely that there’s any correlation – Black Widow is expected to be a prequel, set before the events of Romanoff’s first appearance in Iron Man 2. Other rumors, yet to be confirmed, suggest that the movie will take place in between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, following Romanoff as she flees from the law and the restrictions of the Sokovia Accords, helped by a rogue Steve Rogers. The problem with that scenario is that the film would kind of need…Steve Rogers, not to mention Falcon, and possibly Scarlet Witch and Vision. Those would be all great additions to the film’s cast, admittedly, but this is a solo film, not a team-up, and Captain America’s time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is supposedly over. It’s probably best to keep the focus on Widow herself, and have it be a prequel, where we can finally learn the truth about the Red Room program, and maybe even see some classic comics characters like Yelena Belova (expected to be portrayed by Florence Pugh, of Fighting With My Family).

That doesn’t rule out the possibility of characters like Hawkeye and Nick Fury appearing, since both had close relationships with Black Widow. And it seems likely that we’ll finally see what happened in Budapest. Rumors have been circulating like wildfire – most recently, some speculation that star David Harbour will be playing The Thing, one of the Fantastic Four, in Black Widow…despite the fact that this (a) makes no sense, and (b) wouldn’t work due to the timing of the Disney/Fox merger.

One last thing to note is that Scarlett Johansson was wearing the red braids she sported in Avengers: Endgame, not the iconic short red haircut seen in earlier films, or even her curly hairstyle from Iron Man 2. While it’s possible that this was Johansson’s own stylistic choice, it’s definitely an intriguing one, one that might bode well for the many people who want this movie to be a sequel. The behind-the-scenes video showing Johansson’s hairstyle can be found here.

With filming having now begun, expect more updates, castings, and theories to follow!

“Black Widow” Cast Begins To Take Shape

denofgeek.com

Everything that Marvel has planned past the release of Avengers: Endgame is currently shrouded in a veil of secrecy and intense mystery – but that hasn’t stopped us from getting a few casting announcements for some of their upcoming films.

Currently, they’ve actually got quite a few movies going into production – The Eternals, a perplexing addition to the roster; Shang-Chi, set to be the first Marvel film headed by an Asian lead; and Black Widow, an origin film for a character who debuted in the MCU back in 2010.

That sounds unusual, and that’s because it is. Black Widow, or Natasha Romanoff, had her popularity peak just after the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in 2014. That would have been the best time to release a film for her, since she was one of only two original Avengers who didn’t get an origin film to begin with (the other being Hawkeye: I mean, you could say that technically the Hulk didn’t get an origin film, but technically he did). Since The Winter Soldier, Black Widow has been playing a more secondary role in the MCU, with only a few minutes of screentime in Avengers: Infinity War. That does seem to be changing with Avengers: Endgame, the trailers for which have highlighted Black Widow as one of the leading opponents of the Titan, Thanos. But that’s the thing: Endgame is…well, the end. After Endgame, where most of the other Avengers will presumably be retired or even die, what purpose does Black Widow have going forward? And why does she suddenly need an origin film, eight years after she originated?

We don’t know. But the origin film is definitely going forward, has a director (Cate Shortland) attached, has a release date of sometime in 2020, and has now begun casting. We first had preliminary reports that Beauty & The Beast star Emma Watson would be joining the cast, which actually didn’t come to pass – Fighting With My Family‘s Florence Pugh instead nabbed the role Watson was up for: the role of a spy, similar in strength to Black Widow herself. It would be hard to imagine Watson in such a role – Pugh seems like a perfectly good fit. Personally, I’m still hoping Watson gets to be Spider-Woman someday.

Then we got word that Andre Holland would be playing the movie’s villain, though those reports are still unconfirmed. There is still no word on who the villain is, either. That same report also mentioned the possibility of Alec Baldwin joining the cast.

Today, we received some definite casting: Stranger Things actor David Harbour will be joining Black Widow, in an unidentified role, and Rachel Weisz is also in talks to enter the cast.

So yeah, this thing is definitely on the move. We still don’t have any details on the plot, aside from the fact that this film is supposedly a prequel – as in, set before the events of Iron Man 2, where Black Widow first debuted onscreen, played by Scarlett Johansson (who, by the way, will continue to play the Russian spy). What is the need for an origin story now, when we don’t even know if Black Widow will survive the events of Avengers: Endgame? And what purpose could Black Widow serve in the future MCU, where the scope will be growing increasingly cosmic in scale? Is she going to fight off vast intergalactic entities like Galactus or the Silver Surfer with just her glow-stick batons and fists?

There is one link I can think of, though, and it could explain why a Black Widow movie is called for at this time, and not years ago. Crucially, Black Widow will be released next year, before The Eternals, which is set to come out in November, 2020.

You see, The Eternals itself has an interesting lineup of characters, and one of them is the villainous Druig. He is an immortal being, able to fly and teleport and do all the sorts of things that other Eternals can do – but he has one interesting thing about him. In the comics, Druig took the alias “Ivan Druig” and became a KGB officer in the Soviet Union. He even became the Prime Minister of the (fictional) country of Vorozheika. Now that may or may not be relevant, but Black Widow is also a KGB agent who operated out of the Soviet Union, and her movie should come out only a few months before The Eternals. Perhaps Natasha could have a connection to the greater cosmic beings that will inhabit the next phase of the MCU – perhaps, in the past, she had a connection to this country of Vorozheika, and even became entangled in the plots of “Ivan Druig”. It would be a brilliant link between the two films, and a great way of bridging the gap between the previous phase and the new one. It’s even possible that Andre Holland could be playing Druig, since The Eternals is currently shaping up to have a very diverse cast. Florence Pugh is rumored to be playing the “moral opposite” of Black Widow – in other words, she’ll most likely be playing Yelena Belova. I could easily imagine a scenario in which Druig recruits Belova, who trained alongside Natasha in the Red Room Program, to take out the Black Widow.

This is definitely looking like it will be a very interesting thriller. I’m sure there will be more updates on casting, plot details, etc, once Avengers: Endgame is released and Black Widow’s fate becomes known.