One film fans have been clamoring for since the Marvel Cinematic Universe's inception is Black Widow. Every year, fans begged for Scarlett Johansson's assassin to receive her own film. The announcement that a Black Widow film was in development left fans excited -- until Natasha Romanov died in Avengers: Endgame. That left fans a little confused as to what Black Widow would be about or, rather, when it was set.
Most assumed it would be a prequel. The two prevailing theories are that the film either takes place in the years between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, or that it would be a prequel flashing back to her origins, before her first appearance in Iron Man 2. Some even argued it might take place post-Snap in the five, unexplored years.
But a new fan theory proposes that Black Widow won't take place in the past, but in the post-Avengers: Endgame universe.
A Reddit user posted the theory on the FanTheory subreddit.
The first aspect of the theory pertains to Black Widow's resurrection. It references an earlier fan theory the user read that suggests that when Cap returns the Soul Stone to Vormir, Natasha, whose soul was traded for the Stone, will return to life.
After being resurrected, Natasha chooses to investigate her father, having learned his name after the Red Skull mentioned it on Vormir. As she still has the time travel suit and a set of Pym Particles, she travels back in time to find her father.
The theory proposes that David Harbour will play Natashas's father.
But there are alternatives to the theory. Other alternatives indicate that Tony (for some reason) holds a grudge against Gamora and trades her soul for Natasha's. A second theory is that Natasha will find Hank Pym (who maybe is being held hostage by the KGB), get Pym Particles for the return trip and, along the way, bring Tony back to life. For reasons. However, these extra elements are simply implausibilities given what we're about to discuss.
The Potential Appeal
There are components of this theory that sound quite appealing.
The theory does not say Black Widow takes place in the post-Endgame world as you might expect. Rather, the theory says that post-Endgame Natasha is the main character in her own past. This offers a unique possibility. Should Endgame-Natasha die in the past, that would maintain the ramifications of her Endgame death. As far as the rest of the cast knows, she died on Vormir. However, her resurrection would still grant her one last adventure that brings her arc back to the beginning.
It also offers audiences a chance to see Natasha's past without reverting entirely to a prior state of Natasha's development. The problem with prequels is that audiences are forced to watch characters at points prior to them being fleshed out on-screen. The Natasha of a pre-Iron Man 2 Black Widow movie would lack the development audiences observed over the course of the MCU. This means that the film wouldn't feature the Natasha audiences love, just a precursor to that version.
So, what would make Black Widow different than any other spy movie? The prospect of combining the future and past is quite promising. But is it plausible?
What We Know About the Film
Set photos have leaked for Black Widow. The photos show a funeral, mountains and Natasha Romanov, but there is no indication of when or where the film takes place based on the images.
These shots could take place at any point in MCU history. Pre-90s? Post-Civil War? Post-Snap? We simply don't have enough information at the present to tell for sure.
However, some time ago, a report came out that the Black Widow film would take place between Civil War and Infinity War. Which, again, these set photos don't contradict. The theory, with its time travel, stands in defiance to this report.
But this ignores the biggest flaw with the theory...
The Soul Stone
When Bruce uses the Stones to undo Thanos's Snap, he attempts to bring Natasha back, but finds he can't. The Soul Stone can only be earned through sacrifice.
What kind of sacrifice comes with a return policy? A rental Soul Stone makes no sense. It runs counter to what the Soul Stone represents. The Soul Stone cannot be returned for the soul. The soul cannot be retrieved.
Now, could Cap just snatch Natasha before going to trade her soul for the stone? Surely. But can Natasha really be brought back after trading her soul for the stone?
By all accounts, probably not. There is no evidence in favor of this theory as of yet.