Although Avengers: Endgame answered plenty of questions fans have had since Infinity War, there's still a lot about the 22-movie-spanning "Infinity Saga" that conclusion left unanswered. First and foremost, this is the first time the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in question. After the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Marvel will launch Phase 4 -- which, somehow, includes a Black Widow movie.
Now, the big question about this film is when it takes place. After all, Natasha Romanoff made the ultimate sacrifice in Endgame to help save the universe. So how can she be back in her own solo film? It's possible it'll be set at some point between her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in 2010's Iron Man 2 and her death. However, current rumors claim the Black Widow film is an origin story.
Still, we've already seen Black Widow's days in the Red Room, at least partially, in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron. What's more, set photos from the film have surfaced online, and they don't seem to point towards a period piece. Certain fan theories would have us believe that Natasha will be alive once more thanks to time travel or Captain America's fixing of the timeline... but what if it's actually a little simpler than that?
What if the Natasha Romanoff in the upcoming Black Widow film is actually... a clone?
An All-New, All-Different Black Widow?
In Age of Ultron, Natasha Romanoff shared a heartbreaking revelation with Bruce Banner: When she was training in the Red Room, part of the graduation ceremony involved her having to get sterilized so that she may never form attachment to a child of her own, the one thing that could take precedence over a mission.
While this was done to draw a parallel between Widow and the Hulk, and to show the horrors Natasha had to endure, what if it's also the key to her return? Consider this: What if the Red Room kept some of her DNA with the intent of cloning one of its greatest assets in the event of her death?
The Black Widow movie could then find the Red Room activating this new version of the character. Sure, she would be different, but she could also be the same in some aspects. In fact, rumors about the film suggest that we may see Natasha go after her father. Well, this cloned Black Widow could be on the search for answers. After all, while the Red Room designed her to be a weapon, the cloned Natasha could easily become self-aware and seek answers about her past -- a search that would bring her to her father.
That's when the villainous organization may decide to cut its losses and put her down by sending another agent after her, establishing a villain for the film in the process. As a result, this would truly make the film an origin story -- and set in the present at the same time. By finding answers about her past, cloned Natasha could learn about who she is at the same time as the audience.
Then, we would witness the rise of a new Black Widow -- one who could spearhead the new, post-Endgame Avengers roster.
Black Widow's Comic Book Clone
While the idea of a Black Widow clone may seem a little far-fetched, there is actually a precedent for it in recent comic books. After Natasha was tragically killed during the 2017 event Secret Empire, she later returned in Tales of Suspense. The series revealed that this wasn't the same Natasha and that she was instead a clone created by the Black Widow Ops program/the Red Room. Programmed to follow orders, this clone retained the memories of the original, deceased Natasha, essentially bringing the character back to life.
Now fully self-aware, she infiltrated the Red Room for a time, and worked from within the organization to bring it down. After completing her mission, she truly became Natasha Romanoff, the one and only Black Widow -- and she was recognized as such by her friends and fellow superheroes.
This new version of Natasha Romanoff used her awakening to bring down the organization that made her what she is. And this could easily end up being one of the main plot threads of the Black Widow film.
A Bold New Beginning
If the rumors are true, then Black Widow will be the first film of the MCU's Phase 4. For that reason, it would seem odd for Marvel to launch its next overarching storyline with a film set in the past and starring a dead character. It would be more logical to move forward in present time, and introduce/bring back a character that means so much to so many fans.
What's more, this wouldn't undo the character's heroic sacrifice in Endgame, or change the timeline of the MCU once again. It might seem a little complicated, but Marvel isn't above bending the rules to bring back a dead character. After all, Endgame brought Gamora back to life by plucking her out of the timeline. It's her and it isn't her, all at the same time, and the choice opens up plenty of new potential storylines. The case could be the same for Black Widow.
Clones may appear as an easy or convoluted answer to some, but it's actually rather elegant, not only considering the source material, but because it's something that would fit quite nicely in the story of a super-spy movie set in a cosmic, cinematic comic book universe. It's grounded and sci-fi at the same time, and perfectly at home in the MCU.
Sure, we may not have seen any sort of cloning technology at work in other films yet, but after aliens, time travel and alternate dimensions, it's certainly not in the realm of the impossible.
Directed by Cate Shortland with a script by Ned Benson, Black Widow stars Scarlett Johansson and is rumored for release on May 1, 2020.