Black Widow is a 2021 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed by Cate Shortland from a screenplay by Eric Pearson, and stars Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow alongside Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenle, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, and Rachel Weisz. Set after Captain America: Civil War (2016), the film sees Romanoff on the run and forced to confront her past.
Development of a Black Widow film began in April 2004 by Lionsgate, with David Hayter attached to write and direct. The project did not move forward and the character's film rights reverted to Marvel Studios by June 2006. Johansson was cast in the role for several MCU films beginning with Iron Man 2 (2010), and began discussing a solo film with Marvel. Work began in late 2017, with Shortland hired in 2018. Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson contributed to the script before Pearson was hired. Filming took place from May to October 2019 in Norway, Budapest, Morocco, Pinewood Studios in England, and in Atlanta and Macon, Georgia.
Black Widow premiered on June 29, 2021 at various events around the world, and is scheduled to be released in the United States on July 9, which will be simultaneous in theaters and through Disney+ with Premier Access. It is the first film in Phase Four of the MCU, and was delayed three times from an original May 2020 release date due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for the performances and action sequences.
Following the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016), Natasha Romanoff finds herself on the run and forced to confront a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Romanoff must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow:
An Avenger, highly trained former-KGB assassin and former agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Johansson described the film as an opportunity to show the character as "a woman who has come into her own and is making independent and active choices for herself", while being in a "dark place where she's got no one to call and nowhere to go". Ever Anderson portrays a young Natasha Romanoff.
Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova / Black Widow:
A sister-figure to Romanoff who was trained in the Red Room as a Black Widow. Johansson indicated that Belova was an early inclusion in the film, with the character going through a transformation after further development occurred during pre-production. Director Cate Shortland said that Romanoff would be "handing [Belova] the baton" in the film, which would "propel another female storyline". Johansson said Belova would stand on her own in comparison to Romanoff, while Pugh said there was a "generational difference" between the two, noting, Belova is "unapologetic, and confident in herself, and curious ... and emotionally brave". As well, Pugh stated Belova "knows exactly how to function in the areas in which she's been trained, but she has no clue how to live as a human being," calling her "a lethal weapon but also a bit of a kid". Johansson wanted to avoid the dynamic between the two characters of each "trying to take each other down" as that felt "very old fashioned and not true". Instead, Romanoff and Belova have a relationship "grounded in a shared experience and a knowingness and a sisterhood" that at times can still be contentious. Violet McGraw portrays a young Yelena Belova. David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov / Red Guardian:
The Russian super-soldier counterpart to Captain America and a father-figure to Romanoff and Belova. Harbour said Shostakov has "tons of cracks all over him. And he's not the heroic, noble man that [people] want him to be. He both comically and tragically has a lot of flaws". For Harbour's portrayal, he and Shortland discussed Ricky Gervais' performance in The Office and Philip Seymour Hoffman's in The Savages (2007), "comedy that comes out of real domestic need".O-T Fagbenle as Rick Mason:An ally from Romanoff's S.H.I.E.L.D. past who is romantically interested in her. Fagbenle described Mason as "a finder for people who aren't so affiliated with armies" and has assisted Romanoff in this manner. William Hurt as Thaddeus Ross: The United States Secretary of State and a former U.S. Army general. Ray Winstone as Dreykov: The head of the Red Room. Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff / Black Widow: A seasoned spy trained in the Red Room as a Black Widow and a mother-figure to Romanoff and Belova who is now one of the Red Room's lead scientists.:4 Additionally, Olivier Richters and Olga Kurylenko have been cast in undisclosed roles. The character Taskmaster, who completes missions for the Red Room, will also be featured in the film. The character has photographic reflexes that allows them to mimic their opponents' fighting style in order to learn how to use it against them,:4 and in the film uses techniques from other superheroes, such as Iron Man, Captain America, the Winter Soldier and Spider-Man. Robert Downey Jr. will appear in his MCU role as Tony Stark / Iron Man