Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow Is the Least Respected Character in the MCU: Here’s Why

Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, a Russian spy turned dedicated Avenger, has been with the MCU since 2010’s Iron Man 2. When she finishes her career-catalyzing turn as the hand-to-hand combat heroine, she will have spent over a decade portraying the character. 

'Black Widow' star Scarlett Johansson
‘Black Widow’ star Scarlett Johansson | Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Though she is one of the “OG Avengers,” as the six supers from 2012’s The Avengers have affectionately labeled themselves, Black Widow has been put on the back-burner for a solo movie since the beginning. Captain Marvel snagged a solo movie without ever appearing as a “supporting character,” and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man has seen two solo movies, despite arriving to the party six years after Scarlett Johansson.

Though Black Widow is finally set to lead the way in 2020’s Black Widow — the second installment in Phase 4 — it feels a day late and a dollar short. Not to mention, the means by which her solo movie will hit silver screens feels lazy and hints at the studio’s lack of respect concerning their first female Avenger. 

The fact that ‘Black Widow’ will be a prequel is an insult to Scarlett Johansson’s character 

Due to the fallout of events in Avengers: Endgame, The Black Widow movie will be a prequel; chronicling Natasha’s transformation from spy to hero, the film will immediately precede the events of first Avengers film. 

Given that Natasha’s past has remained a mystery throughout the course of The Avengers saga, the movie will provide a needed backstory for Natasha. However, intrigue — forged on the grounds of missing information — is not enough to save this film from its apparent appeasement mission. What do we mean by appeasement mission? This film, in its entirety, solely exists to satisfy fans who have been asking for a Black Widow film.

Because the movie is a prequel, immediately preceding the Avengers, it will not impact the future of the MCU; it will hold zero narrative weight over the subsequent events of Phase 4, and will likely fail to offer up the trilogy treatment Widow’s fellow Avengers have been so fortunate to receive.

The suspense factor inherent to previous Avengers films is destined to be amiss. If we already know what happens, we know Black Widow defeats the movie’s villain. We know she goes on to become a hero and find a family in the Avengers.

Black Widow will be no more than a narrative biography, tracing Natasha’s former life, and providing insight into how she became Black Widow. While this story is vital, it should have been offered up ages ago. At this point, it’s an afterthought; it’s a way to satisfy fans now that the writers went and killed her off.

The Russo Brothers killed off Black Widow because it was the right choice for Endgame, and we’re facing the consequence of such a choice: the long-awaited Black Widow movie is now a prequel, it will be the only movie with Natasha at the center, and will be irrelevant to the future of the MCU. 

When it comes to the upcoming Black Widow movie, Marvel Studios is rubbing our bellies and saying “there, there. Here’s your Black Widow movie,” as they focus their attention on other heroes they — apparently — have always valued more.