‘Black Widow’: More Delays Will Cause the MCU and Real-World Timelines to Merge Again

When Disney/Marvel pushed Black Widow back to May of 2021, a full year after it was originally supposed to premiere, many observers noted that this was the first year since 2009 that there was no new Marvel Cinematic Universe movie in theaters. And that’s not the only weird quirk of time the pandemic has prompted. 

If the movie is delayed again, fans point out, that might eventually cause the MCU time and the real world time to merge. In a time when movie news seems relentlessly bad and when just about anything bad that can happen will, that doesn’t sound so far-fetched. 

What’s the Marvel schedule for now?

Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

When the pandemic came to the United States in March, there was some hope then that Black Widow might still kick off the summer movie season of 2020, even as other big movies like the next Fast and the Furious were moving to next year.

That idea seems positively naive now, with some thought that we might be lucky even to see the new Marvel movie hit theaters in May. 

Because Marvel movies are so famously connected to one another, that meant that when one moved, they all had to move. So when Black Widow got pushed to November, every subsequent Marvel movie moved back about three or four months. Now, with Black Widow moving into 2021, the whole slate has shifted again. 

Here is the new lineup of release dates (for now): Black Widow May 7, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, July 9, The Eternals November 5, and Spider-Man 3 December 17. Meanwhile, 2022 will bring Thor: Love and Thunder February 11, and then Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be in March.

What was interesting about that was that Shang-Chi was originally supposed to come out after Eternals, so maybe Phase 4 of the MCU is more interchangeable than first thought. 

What do fans think of the delays? 

RELATED: ‘Black Widow’ Might Prove Some Fans Don’t Mind When Movies Get ‘Political’

Naturally, fans are far from pleased with the delays. They have often pointed out it’s ironic that it took so long for a Black Widow standalone movie to get made, and now it’s taking even longer for reasons not even Disney and Marvel can control. As disappointing as the delays are, they also fire up fans’ imaginations to fill the void. 

A topic-starter on Reddit suggested: “They might as well release ‘Black Widow’ in 2023 to coincide with Nat’s death.”

This is referring to the fact that the Thanos snap took place in 2018, so the famous “Five Years Later” announced by Endgame would be 2023. It may have been only a half-serious suggestion, but fans rolled with it. 

One joked, “Confirmed: Marvel started the Pandemic so it could close the years gap between the MCU Universe and our Universe. Diabolical. Another fan lamented, “I don’t even want to imagine that possibility. That would truly be the darkest timeline.”

One could say it’s like we’re living a version of “the snap,” although we all hope it lasts a lot less than five years.

The delays put movie theaters in deep trouble

Another fan pointed out, “At this rate, we’ll never get to see it. All the theaters will go bankrupt by then because there’s nothing new coming out really for anyone to go and see.” 

That fan may have a point. Theaters are losing money hand over fist as more and more movies move out of 2020, leaving theaters to play mostly catalog titles that don’t draw crowds.

So grave is the situation that, as reported in The Wrap,  the National Association of Theater Owners released a letter pleading with the government for financial relief. It states, “If the status quo continues, 69% of small and mid-sized movie theater companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy or to close permanently, and 66% of theater jobs will be lost.”

 Among those signing the letter were Taika Waititi and Martin Scorsese. At least a Marvel director and Scorsese can agree on that much.