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After more than a decade in existence, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is ready to launch a whole new era. While building upon what has already been established, the upcoming Phase 4 will expand the franchise in new and exciting ways, and a big part of that is giving solo movies to characters who have never gotten them before. As it turns out, this includes Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, who will soon be seen in her own big screen adventure.

But what can we expect from a Black Widow movie? Who is responsible for making it? When will it be set? What other characters will be appearing? There are hundreds of questions currently surrounding the project – but that’s why we’ve built this guide. Based on announcements, news stories, and interviews, we’ve collected all of the information that we know about the developing blockbuster, and included it here for you in an easy-to-read format. So, without further ado, here’s what we know about Black Widow so far:

Black Widow in Captain America Civil War

What Have We Seen From Black Widow?

With Black Widow still a good amount of time away from hitting theaters, the marketing campaign hasn’t really started just yet. It’s typical that Marvel Cinematic Universe releases get debut trailers approximately six months ahead of their respective release date, and we’re just not there yet. That being said, there was early footage from the film showcased during the Marvel Studios panel at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2019. That reel has not been officially posted online, but you can read our full description of what was shown right here.

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Black Widow profile in Captain America Civil War

What Is Black Widow's Release Date?

With Spider-Man: Far From Home closing out Phase 3 and providing a comedown from the insanity of Avengers: Endgame, Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will kick off in 2020, and Black Widow will be the first title released as part of the announced slate. It will be one of only two Marvel Studios releases in the calendar year, set to be followed by The Eternals in November, and is currently on the theatrical schedule for May 1, 2020.

Black Widow in Captain America Civil War

What Is Black Widow's Rating?

It has been officially confirmed that R-rated Marvel Cinematic Universe releases are on the horizon, as it’s been promised that Deadpool will eventually be integrated into the franchise with the same limited boundaries he enjoyed as part of Fox’s X-Men world. That’s still years away from happening, though, and it definitely won’t be Black Widow that begins the new era. Despite rumors to the contrary, the blockbuster will not be the first MCU title to hit theaters with a restricted grading from the MPAA, and will instead be PG-13 just like all of the other movies to date that have featured Scarlett Johansson’s titular character.

Black Widow smiling in Captain America Civil War

Black Widow's Director

When it comes to choosing directors for projects, Marvel Studios clearly doesn’t care much about filmmakers having past blockbuster experience. After all, James Gunn, Joe and Anthony Russo, Taika Waititi, Ryan Coogler, and more didn’t have any prior to working on their respective Marvel projects, and they're responsible for some of the best films in the franchise. What Marvel is really interested in is storytellers and unique approaches, and so that’s why they brought in Cate Shortland to take the helm of Black Widow. To date the Australian director has made three features - 2004's Somersault, 2012's Lore, and 2017's Berlin Syndrome - and while none of them are action-driven spy thrillers, the comic book movie company clearly trusts her to operate well in the genre.

Black Widow with Tony Stark in Captain America Civil War

Black Widow's Story

Marvel Studios has not yet revealed an official plot description/logline explaining what Black Widow will be about, but certain details have been gleaned from the aforementioned footage shown at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, and various interviews given by the cast and filmmakers. It has been confirmed that the movie will take place between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War (which isn’t too big a surprise given that the eponymous hero died in Avengers: Endgame). Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow will be an international fugitive at the start of the story, having violated the Sokovia Accords, and the adventure will take her to Budapest, Hungary, where she will be forced to confront demons from her past.

Black Widow fighting in Captain America Civil War

Black Widow

Black Widow has been a key player in the Marvel Cinematic Universe from nearly the beginning, first brought to the big screen by Scarlett Johansson in 2010’s Iron Man 2 (a.k.a. the third movie in the franchise). She has been a massively important supporting character in seven blockbusters to date, with each adventure providing audiences a few more pieces of her troubled past, but with her first solo adventure we’ll now have the chance to do a deep dive. We don’t fully know what to expect, as Marvel is being incredibly secretive as usual, but what’s revealed may wind up totally changing the way in which we reflect on the heroine going into the future of the canon.

David Harbour Stranger Things Red Guardian marvel Comics

Alexei a.k.a. The Red Guardian

Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America is obviously a very special hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but he was far from the only super soldier created in hopes of advancing a singular country’s interest. The Russians have a hero of their own named The Red Guardian, and not only will he be making his live-action debut in Black Widow, but he will be played by Stranger Things star David Harbour. Exactly what he’ll be doing in the movie is being kept very hush-hush for now, but there are some big questions circling around the character’s relationship with Natasha Romanoff, given that they were once married in the comics.

Florence Pugh in Midsommar Yelena in Marvel Comics

Yelena

With her roles in Fighting With My Family and Midsommar in 2019, Florence Pugh has quickly established herself as a new “it” girl, and Marvel Studios acted fast in getting her a part in their expansive franchise. Specifically, she will be playing Yelena Belova, who is another Russian spy who went through similar training to Natasha Romanoff, and also carries the Black Widow mantle. Based primarily on the Comic-Con footage mentioned earlier, it would seem that the two characters have a good amount of conflict-filled history, as a bone-crunching bout breaks out between them mere seconds after they see each other, but ultimately it looks like they will be fighting on the same side during the adventure.

O-T Fagbenle in The Handmaid's Tale

Mason

While most of the characters we know about in Black Widow have a comic book counterpart, Mason remains a bit of a mystery to fans. It was confirmed at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 that Handmaid’s Tale star O-T Fagbenle will be playing the part, and it was noted that he is both an ally of Black Widow’s and a wannabe love interest, but no real details beyond those have been revealed just yet. It’s possible that Marvel is keeping a tight lid on things because of some kind of big secret, but we won’t actually know if that’s the case until May 2020.

Rachel Weisz from The Lobster and Melina from Marvel Comics

Melina

Marvel Studios has done an ace job getting Oscar-winning actresses to be a part of their Phase 4 plans, as they not only got Natalie Portman and Angelina Jolie to sign on for Thor: Love and Thunder and The Eternals, respectively, but they have also enlisted Rachel Weisz for a key part in Black Widow. This is another character who will apparently carry the titular moniker in the movie, but given what we know from the source material, she may take on a different name before the end of the film: Iron Maiden. In the comics she is one of Natasha Romanoff’s key adversaries, and it’s likely that she will be the upcoming film’s central villain.

Black Widow San Diego Comic-Con 2019 Concept Art

Taskmaster

We don’t yet know who is going to be under the mask, but Taskmaster – a fan-favorite villain from Marvel Comics – has been confirmed to be making his live-action debut in Black Widow. At this point it can’t be said if the character’s backstory will be altered for the cinematic treatment, but in the source material he has some fascinating abilities. Namely, he has what are called photographic reflexes, which is similar to a photographic memory in that he can instantly recall and imitate any movement of an opponent. He’s so good, in fact, that he can study a foe’s entire style in a moment and then predict and prepare for any attempted strike. He’s one of the greatest fighters in the Marvel Universe, and Black Widow will be seriously challenged when going toe-to-toe with him.

Be sure to keep checking this space, as we will be continuing to update this feature as we get closer and closer to Black Widow’s release in 2020. For now, though, hit the comments section below and tell us what you’re most excited to see in the upcoming blockbuster.

Black Widow Interviews | Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour & More | SDCC 19

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