In the wake of Captain America: Civil War, we finally got confirmation that Marvel will be getting around to a solo film for Black Widow. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige told Deadline Hollywood, “I would say certainly the one creatively and emotionally that we are most committing to doing is Black Widow…She’s a lead Avenger and has amazing stories in her own right to tell that we think would be fun to turn into a stand-alone franchise.” That comes as good news to fans who’ve been waiting patiently for the character to take center stage since her film debut in 2010’s Iron Man 2.
Saturday Night Live poked some fun at what Black Widow might look like as a feature film, but this was before Feige got serious about plans for the spy. While he references Widow’s “amazing stories,” the character’s publishing history hasn’t quite given us those perennial comic classics that even some of her Avengers’ peers like Scarlet Witch has under her belt. What comics do you draw from as inspiration if you’re doing a solo Black Widow movie?
In her current run, from Daredevil’s award-winners Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, Widow is being pursued by S.H.I.E.L.D. for stealing secrets from the organization. This is likely too similar to events within The Winter Soldier to be good material for a film at this point, and the S.H.I.E.L.D. of the comics is in a much healthier position than that organization as they appear in the MCU.
If we go back to her earliest comic book days as a Russian spy, she teamed with then-villain Hawkeye and they often fought Iron Man. Neither of those feel likely for film, for obvious reasons. For a portion of the 1970’s, Black Widow shared a comic with Daredevil, even changing the title from Daredevil to Daredevil and the Black Widow for a time. Though fans would flip their lids for a relationship between Netflix’s Daredevil show and an eventual Black Widow movie, those Netflix characters seem off the table for films, for whatever reason.
The most likely candidate for inspiration would be the 1999’s Marvel Knights: Black Widow from writer Devin Greyson and artist J.G. Jones. The comic introduces a new Black Widow, Yelena Belova, who aims to replace the heroic Natasha Romanoff and restore the Black Widow’s name to one of fear. Belova and Romanoff both trained in the mysterious Red Room, and in their conflict, Romanoff exposes Belova to the heavy moral questions of espionage and the ensuing paranoia of the job.
If you want to place bets, it seems likely to me that film would want to explore more of the Red Room backstory we got in Age of Ultron. The role of Yelena Belova is a juicy one, providing Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha with a foil who’s every bit as capable and ruthless as she can be. The story is simple enough for a screenwriter to take the basic idea and make it their own (ala Civil War). It should also scratch the Widow-as-Jason-Bourne itch that we’ve all had since the first time she defeated a hallway full of thugs; it’s not exactly a “superhero” story. Start your daydream fan casting for Belova now.
That’s our best guess as to what a Black Widow solo movie might look like – what’s yours? Maybe some other Black Widow modern classic comic will pop up in the meantime? You’ve got plenty of time to think about it. Black Widow isn’t happening until after the current slate ends, sometime after 2020. Until then, we’ll be seeing Black Widow in the next Avengers sequel and wondering what it’ll look like when she’s really cut loose.