Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff finally gets her first (and final) break-out feature this weekend in the highly-anticipated Black Widow, after making her huge Marvel Cinematic Universe debut over a decade ago. However, this film is so long overdue that Natasha isn’t even present in the current MCU, leaving you to wonder where Black Widow fits into the MCU narrative. We do, however, have some answers.
Black Widow is not an origin story, contrary to popular belief at the time of its announcement. According to Johansson, the concept was never considered since neither her nor the studio wanted to go back that far. Rather, the film picks up right after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Johansson stated why in an interview with Screen Rant:
“It felt like a good time because Natasha has always worked for [someone], she’s always been a part of some operation. She’s always had some safety net – I don’t know that safety net is the best way to put it, but she’s always been an operative and she’s never really had to, for better or worse, make any decisions for herself. She’s made decisions, but she’s part of this greater whole, and whether it was the Red Room or SHIELD or the Avengers, she’s had this kind of family, for better or worse. Then after Civil War, it’s all gone. Everything is gone and she’s, for the first time ever really just on her own. She could totally disappear into the ether and that would be that. She doesn’t have to return to anything, which is a pretty terrifying place to be, when you’ve been attached to something so long and now you’re suddenly floating. And obviously she’s very self-sufficient and she has connections everywhere, but she’s on the lam and she’s feeling like a fugitive. It gave us a really interesting place to start, like all the pieces are everywhere and how do we connect everything back together. When you find her in the beginning of the film, she’s just broken and by the end of the film, the goal is to put her back together, but different than before.”
If the lack of a proper origin narrative for Black Widow has left you disappointed, rest assured that the next film delves deep into her childhood and introduces her to much of her erstwhile found family. Furthermore, setting the Black Widow in the midst of many of the largest MCU events allows us to get a closer look at the Natasha we know and love in Endgame, and better appreciate the significant decision she made.
When Black Widow reaches theaters tonight, let’s hope film gives the character the send-off she deserves.