The MCU Found a Brilliant Way to Bring a Beloved Character Back to Life

Using flashbacks has been a longstanding narrative technique in films and TV going back to each medium’s earliest days. As time went on, this grew more elaborate to a point of even using flash-forwards on specific TV shows. In the MCU, flashbacks had never been done until Avengers: Endgame came along and reinvented what a flashback is through the use of time travel.

Since setting that precedent, Marvel has now looked to the flashback film as a viable way to bring back some of the popular departed Avengers characters without having to bring them back to life.

Not that resurrection isn’t a problematic hole the MCU has already dug. Perhaps a flashback film like Black Widow was the only way to tell audiences they aren’t relying on the resurrection gimmick anymore.

Kevin Feige speaks onstage
Kevin Feige | Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

How popular will the ‘Black Widow’ movie be?

When the teaser trailer for Black Widow released in early December, social media lit up as expected. While a few people criticized the Russian accents by the actors, at least Scarlett Johansson didn’t have to struggle with one. Many figured she could probably do one well, though, considering she’s done other accents recently in other films (most notably in Jojo Rabbit).

The film is meant as a way to help audiences gain closure on the Natasha Romanoff character by having her go back to Russia to bury the hatchet with people close to her. Some of the individuals include her Russian “sisters,” aka two other women who happened to be trained as Black Widows themselves through a KGB program.

Then there’s Alexei Shostakov (Red Guardian), otherwise known once as the Russian counterpart to Captain America and Natasha’s former husband. He won’t be battling Cap in this movie as he did in the comic books, though audiences will be seeing Red Guardian in a state of decline.

Because some of the characters back home have gone downhill somewhat, one might assume they’ll also die, making the entire movie a probable flashback to what led to their fates. Unless fellow sister, Yelena Belova, becomes the next Black Widow.

Will this be a brief flashback or an extended one?

It seems Marvel had full intention of Black Widow being a standalone movie tribute to Natasha Romanoff to tie up her volatile past. However, no one should really expect it to be the only movie about her. If it becomes a massive hit, expect another flashback movie set at a later time, or maybe even some form of resurrection post-Endgame time frame.

Would MCU really go there again, or are flashbacks the only solution to bringing back all the Avenger favorites? Black Widow isn’t the only one back in this film if you include a cameo from Robert Downey, Jr. playing Tony Stark from between the events of Civil War and Infinity War. For some, seeing him in a flashback seems a little anticlimactic after his dramatic Endgame death.

This was the only way to appease fans without having to resort to bringing Stark and Romanoff back to life. What fans really want to know is if more movies like this will be on the way to prove Marvel wants to keep death permanent for once.

How about flashback films of Captain America and others?

Everyone wants to see Captain America again, yet it’s going to be a challenge to bring him back in the present time without either a resurrection as him younger or focusing on old Steve Rogers somehow suiting up again.

Seeing old man Steve trying to become Captain America in his 80s would certainly be something to see. The more likely scenario would be a flashback movie, probably back to the 1940s when he time-traveled to join Peggy Carter again after his former self was frozen in ice.

Other Avengers might get flashback movies or shows on Disney+ down the line. Or, maybe Marvel will invent the flash-forward in a This Is Us vein. Seeing resurrected Avengers five or more years from now might require flash-forward/flashback projects to explain why Marvel went back to the life after death scenario yet again.