Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) goes back to her roots to take down a ruthless mercenary recruiting other young women to be combat operatives in the final trailer for Black Widow, Marvel’s long-overdue standalone feature film delving into the mysterious past of the late titular Avenger.
(Some spoilers for Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame below.)
As we wrote last December, we know that the Russian-born Natasha/Black Widow was trained as a spy/assassin in a secretive academy known as the Red Room, which disguised itself as a ballet school. All the “Black Widows” were sterilized, so Natasha is unable to bear children. Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), aka Hawkeye, is sent to take her out but recruits her to S.H.I.E.L.D. instead. The two become fast friends, and both wind up joining the Avengers, giving Natasha a family of sorts. When the group splits in Captain America: Civil War, Natasha initially sides with Tony Stark/Iron Man, even though that pits her against Barton and Steve Rogers. But her loyalties remain divided, and in the battle at Leipzig Airport, she lets Rogers and Bucky Barnes escape.
After “the Snappening,” a devastated Natasha travels to the past and ultimately sacrifices herself in Avengers: Endgame so Barton can retrieve the Soul Stone. Her demise proved to be a controversial decision with the fans: the barren Natasha dies so Barton can return to his (soon to be un-disintegrated) family, as if all her training and accomplishments meant nothing if she was unable to bear children.
Black Widow should help redress that particular wrong.
The events of Black Widow are set just after Civil War, when Natasha “finds herself alone and forced to confront her past while facing against a new threat,” per the official synopsis. We’ve already had a couple of trailers, so we know that the plot finds Natasha reuniting with her “family:” Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Alexei Shostakov, aka Red Guardian (David Harbour), and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), all highly trained operatives. And the film’s Big Bad will be a ruthless mercenary who goes by the moniker Taskmaster, capable of mimicking any opponent’s fighting skills thanks to a photographic memory. There’s been a bit of online speculation about Taskmaster’s true identity, with candidates ranging from a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Mason (O-T Fagbenle) to Melina, who has an alter ego called Iron Maiden in the comics.
This final trailer opens with something of a heart-to-heart between Natasha and Yelena: Yelena relates how she tells people her sister had moved out west and was a science teacher, married to a man who renovates houses. An amused Natasha shakes her head: “That’s not my story.” As Natasha’s hinted in the past, her story pre-Avengers is one of many mistakes, racking up a mess of red in her ledger. She spent her time with the Avengers trying to wipe out much of that red, culminating with her final Endgame sacrifice.
For this film, Natasha is taking on a mysterious figure called Taskmaster, who runs the Red Room. “They’re manipulated, completely conscious but no choices,” Yelena tells Natasha of the young women Taskmaster recruits. We see Yelena strapped to a table, being administered a shot, but it’s not clear if this takes place in the past or the film’s present. In the comics, the Red Room does conduct experiments on recruits, so Yelena may have been an involuntary test subject. Natasha clearly feels guilt over whatever happened to Yelena: “I should have gone back for you.”
The goal is to ensure that no more young women will be subjected to the same kind of treatment to turn them into Black Widows. Red Guardian and Melina also join the fight—although Melina insists that they won’t win. We get a few more action sequences—including some spectacular mid-air shots—and a bit of sisterly and family banter, because Marvel knows how to mix in a bit of humor with its high-octane action. But ultimately, this is going to be about Natasha’s personal journey. “At some point we all have to choose between what the world wants you to be and who you are,” Natasha says in a voiceover. “I made my choice. I’m done running.”
Black Widow hits theaters May 1, 2020.
Listing image by YouTube/Marvel