WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, now in theaters.
Scarlett Johansson has been a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for almost as long as Robert Downey Jr. She made her first appearance as Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, in 2010’s Iron Man 2. Throughout the years, Black Widow has been an important figure in the MCU. With all the red in her ledger, she has remained a complicated character who is weighed down by her past, and yet without her past she wouldn’t have been as capable of a spy.
The Black Widow solo film should’ve happened years ago, honestly. The most logical place for her solo film would’ve been shortly after Captain America: The Winter Soldier in the 2014-2016 era of the MCU. Though the Black Widow film has been rumored to happen for years, not many people were talking about it. After the box office success of Captain Marvel, the first solo female superhero film in the MCU, and the events of Avengers: Endgame, fans should be talking more about the upcoming Black Widow film.
With director Cate Shortland on board, and several actors cast, such as David Harbour and Rachel Weisz, the Black Widow solo film is currently in pre-production. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Black Widow standalone film will be a prequel, and the events of Avengers: Endgame confirm this.
Endgame Gives Us Natasha’s End
Natasha’s character development had to happen in other hero’s movies or off-screen. This is a ramification of her not getting her own solo film, like Hawkeye. Unlike Hawkeye, however, Natasha doesn’t have a family on a farm to go back to. The Avengers became her family, which she says in Avengers: Endgame.
Natasha has spent a lot of her time on-screen supporting the other heroes and, in her words, “picking up after you boys.” She provided a lot of emotional support for characters, namely Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner and Clint Barton. Captain America: The Winter Soldier showed Natasha at her best -- a capable spy and someone who’s able to support a friend while not being bogged down by a romantic storyline.
In Endgame, Natasha achieves her full potential and runs point in what is essentially a bare bones S.H.I.E.L.D. operation post-snap. Carol, Rocket, Nebula, Okoye and Rhodey all report to her on what dangers are lurking around the world and in space. Natasha cares so much about the people who are left, even those who aren’t her friends.
We see that Natasha is really putting in the work to protect the people who survived, but also avenge those who were snapped, by finding a way to bring them back. She has said previously that she has a lot of red in her ledger, which helps to explain why she is willing, and does, put her life on the line to save billions of people. The only life that doesn’t matter to her is her own.
As we know, the Soul Stone requires a sacrifice. About halfway through Endgame, Clint and Natasha tussle over who’s going to sacrifice themselves to get the stone. It’s Natasha who outwits Clint and kicks off the side of the mountain to plunge to her death. Unlike Gamora, she willingly sacrifices herself.
Two other heroes wield the gauntlet in the film -- Bruce and Tony -- and neither of them were able to bring Natasha back. Her death, as confirmed by the Avengers, is permanent. Bruce confesses that he tried to bring her back with his snap, while Tony, we assume, focused on ridding the universe of Thanos and his minions.
“Daughter of Ivan”
The other information we got from Avengers: Endgame that could be relevant to the Black Widow film came from Red Skull. When they arrived on Vormir, Red Skull greeted Clint and Natasha by also saying the names of one of their parents. For Natasha, she was “daughter of Ivan.”
Natasha tells Clint she didn’t know the name of her father. This could mean that her film could explore her biological family ties. For someone who professed that the Avengers were her only family, it would be interesting to see how she knows this for sure. Perhaps Natasha could even find Romanoff family members in her solo film, only to lose them.
Additionally, there’s a well-known Ivan figure in the Black Widow comics, Ivan Petrovich Bezukhov, who acts as her protector and sometimes driver. He’s the one who rescued her as an infant and brought her to the Red Room.
In the comics, especially in 1970’s Amazing Adventures, Ivan clearly has a romantic attraction to Natasha when she grows up. Like the scene in Iron Man 2 with Natasha and Happy, Ivan peeks at her changing in the car. It’s clearly a complicated relationship, but perhaps not one that would be great for a film adaptation in 2020.
In the Black Widow: Forever Red book by Margaret Stohl, Ivan Somodorov was her former Red Room mentor who terrorized her and the other girls in the program, and now it’s her job to kill him. The problem is he’s not easily killed, even with all of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s resources. No matter how evil he is, he’s the only paternal figure Natasha’s ever known.
The Ivan name drop in Avengers: Endgame gives multiple avenues for the Black Widow solo film to explore. Endgame also confirms the Black Widow film has to be a prequel, since the characters have explicitly stated her death is permanent. In the end, Natasha sacrificed herself for her family, so her movie can explore the lows of her life that brought her to her family, the Avengers.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Don Cheadle as War Machine, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Danai Gurira as Okoye and Bradley Cooper as Rocket, with Gwyneth Paltrow Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Benedict Wong as Wong, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Josh Brolin as Thanos.