More than a decade after she debuted in Iron Man 2 (2012), the sole female member of the original Avengers lineup, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), is finally getting her own standalone movie. This marks Johansson’s ninth Marvel Cinematic Universe appearance as Natasha Romanoff, a former Russian spy. Much of the character’s past is shrouded in mystery, including her training in the Red Room, a programme that turned young women into assassins, and what led to her decision to eventually defect to the Avengers. Ahead of the film’s release on DisneyPlus Hotstar on September 3, here’s everything you need to know:
Hang on, isn’t Natasha dead?
Yes, Nat sacrifices her life in Avengers: Endgame (2019), but Black Widow takes place before that, set sometime between the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018). When we last saw Nat in Civil War, she betrayed Team Iron Man and violated the Sokovia Accords by choosing to let Captain America (Chris Evans) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) escape the airport in Berlin. This made her a criminal in the eyes of the law back then and she’s presumably a fugitive by the time Black Widow begins.
Okay, who else is in this movie?
Black Widow stars Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, a former Red Room operative Natasha once thought of as a sister. Rachel Weisz plays Russian scientist Melina Vostokoff and David Harbour stars as Soviet superhero The Red Guardian.
Who’s the bad guy?
It’s Taskmaster, a villain with the ability to mimic the fighting style of any superhero. The trailers show him studying the fight patterns of all the Avengers that took part in the airport brawl in Civil War, which would make him a particularly tough guy for Natasha to beat.
Isn’t this movie at the centre of a lawsuit?
Yes, last month Johansson filed a suit against Disney, alleging a breach of contract. She said that while Marvel Studios, which Disney owns, assured her that Black Widow would be an exclusive theatrical release, the film was simultaneously released on streaming service DisneyPlus. As Johansson’s salary was tied to the film’s box-office performance, its streaming release cut into theatrical profits and thus significantly reduced the amount she expected to earn. While a Disney spokesperson said her claims had no merit, the case is currently ongoing.