Natasha Romanoff is set to fight another day. Following months of silence, Marvel Studios officially confirmed that Scarlett Johansson will star as the recently deceased Black Widow in a prequel movie focused on the character and set for release on May 1, 2020.
The news came during Marvel's highly anticipated Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday night, during which fans were treated to early footage from the film, which has been filming for 30 days. The footage included gorgeous shots of Budapest, where at least part of the film is set, as well as a brutal fight scene between Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, and Yelena Belova, played by Florence Pugh. (In the comics, Yelena is a spy who is sent to kill Black Widow. They later become allies, and eventually, Yelena takes on the Black Widow mantle herself.)
The footage also revealed the film's villain: Natasha is shown fighting the Taskmaster, who, of course, has a shield and mimics her moves. In the comics, the Taskmaster is a genius martial artist and master of disguise who can predict and copy his opponents' physical movements.
A movie focused on Black Widow has been in development for years but this version started coming into focus last year when director Cate Shortland (an indie filmmaker who directed the feature Lore as well as episodes of Showtime's SMILF) was hired. Over the last year, numerous actors have been cast alongside Johansson in the film, though none were officially confirmed by Marvel Studios. Among the film's co-stars: Pugh (Midsommar), Rachel Weisz (The Favourite), David Harbour (Stranger Things), and O-T Fagbenle (The Handmaid's Tale).
A double agent with a morally compromised background, Johansson's Black Widow made her first Marvel Cinematic Universe appearance in 2010's Iron Man 2 and featured heavily in many of the biggest Marvel movies since, including all the Avengers films and multiple Captain America offerings. As fans now know, future Avengers movies won't include Black Widow amongst the heroes; she died in Avengers: Endgame, sacrificing herself to help longtime friend Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), retrieve the Soul Stone.
"That is such a powerful journey to see anybody take, but certainly to see a woman on screen represented in that way: a flawed superhero with a gray moral compass coming to terms with what's happened to her," Johansson told Entertainment Weekly this year. "It's definitely shown some sort of path for these other female superheroes to be able to walk down. I certainly don't take credit for that, though."
Black Widow is the second Marvel movie to feature a female superhero in the solo lead role, following this year's Captain Marvel, which made more than $1 billion worldwide.