For more than a decade, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been captivating audiences with a world full of costumed heroes. Avengers: Endgame, of course, served as the final curtain call for several key figures in the MCU. But the benefit of having such a broad tapestry on which to tell your stories is the ability to fill in any lingering narrative gaps later on.
Case in point, Black Widow kicks off the MCU’s Phase 4, despite the death of Scarlett Johansson’s character in Avengers: Endgame. The film — as we’ve known for a while — will take place during the two-year gap between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.
Now we’ve learned this glimpse into Natasha Romanoff’s personal history will pay off a reference set up years earlier.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has alluded to Black Widow’s past
Throughout the MCU, Black Widow has made no secret of her dark past. In fact, it underscores every heroic action she takes in the movies. Because she was trained as a Russian assassin, Natasha has a lot to atone for. At first, she does this by working for S.H.I.E.L.D., only to find out that too is corrupt. Then Natasha turns her attention to the Avengers full time.
By the time Avengers: Endgame rolls around, she’s essentially the last hero still staying on mission. And she ultimately gives her life in service of that mission. But even though Black Widow is dead, the MCU looks to give the character her due and explore the past only hinted at in movies like Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Fans so far have only seen highlights of what Natasha’s life was like pre-S.H.I.E.L.D. But she has a particularly telling conversation midway through The Avengers. In an intense scene between Natasha and Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the god of mischief taunts Black Widow about her past deeds. As it turns out, something Loki mentions will directly play into Black Widow.
The film will directly address her chat with Loki from ‘The Avengers’
Among the actions Loki references, he mentions “Dreykov’s daughter.” Presumably, Natasha wound up taking the life of Dreykov’s daughter, since that was her specialty. But Dreykov himself has never again been mentioned or referenced. Now, according to Empire magazine (via Marvel Studios News), Dreykov will appear in Black Widow.
Actor Ray Winstone (The Departed) was already confirmed as part of the cast. But it seems he will be playing Dreykov, who is head of the Red Room where Black Widow was trained. Fans may remember glimpses of this facility in Avengers: Age of Ultron amid Natasha’s visions. No word yet if her trainer, Madame B. (Julie Delpy), will factor into Black Widow as well.
When the film was announced, fans assumed Black Widow would explore dark corners of the character’s past. But by the sounds of it, Natasha will be dealing with several key figures from her life in Russia. Perhaps Dreykov is on the warpath for what happened to his daughter. Maybe he’s connected to the villainous Taskmaster. Or maybe he only shows up in flashback.
Will ‘Black Widow’ also play into the MCU’s long-term future?
At this point, it’s anyone’s guess how Black Widow will piece together the broken shards of Natasha’s former life. Will audiences learn anything new about the oft-referenced Budapest incident involving Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)? Will any other Avengers make an appearance?
And perhaps the best question: how will Black Widow affect the rest of Phase 4? Marvel Studios is usually very intentional about building its stories one piece at a time. So, even though Black Widow is largely an interquel between other movies, surely it will also plant seeds that factor into future releases.
With the film’s May 2020 release date canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, fans will have to wait a bit longer to see Black Widow for themselves.
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