The Most Significant Way ‘Black Widow’ Will Influence the Present MCU Timeline

Black Widow will hit theaters in May 2020 and initiate the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4. The movie will be a prequel that takes place between Civil War and Infinity War; it will follow Natasha’s life, separate from the Avengers. With flashes to the Red Room and the Red Guardian present, the movie is destined to fill in some holes currently looming over Natasha’s origins. However, since the film is a prequel, will it play into the MCU’s present timeline? 

Black Widow MCU
President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige, Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O-T Fagbenle, Director Cate Shortland and Rachel Weisz of Marvel Studios’ ‘Black Widow’ | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Out of all movies to initiate a phase, Kevin Feige and Co. went with a prequel. Why choose a film that, theoretically, can’t even influence a post-Avengers: Endgame landscape? Why choose a film that dives deeper into the past when trying to pave the way for new heroes, new narratives, and new dynamics to sculpt the ever-evolving and transforming Marvel space? Well, Black Widow may influence the future of the MCU in one precise way — by diving into the recent past and exposing something that has yet to fully manifest but is bound to explode from the seams when it does. 

Recent insider reports suggest that General Ross’s presence in the MCU, along with some other new faces, will come together for an extended presence in the Marvel world. Possible spoilers for Black Widow below. If you do not wish to know what insider leaks are currently arguing, turn back now.

How Black Widow will impact the present MCU 

According to We Got This Covered — relying on a leak recently dropped on 4Chan — Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) will be revealed as traitors towards the end of the upcoming installment. Fans will find out that the two are secretly in cahoots with General Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt). So, why is this so significant?

One of the films’ post-credits scenes will feature Ross, Belova, and Taskmaster meeting to exchange a flash-drive, and Ross will imply that things are “just getting started”, as WGTC claims. As for the major things just getting started, all signs point towards the formation of the famed Thunderbolts team. 

The Thunderbolts — General Ross’s famous team of supervillains in the Marvel comics — will likely come to play sometime in Phase 5 (after Ross manages to put his whole team together). Based on this recent leak, we can expect that Yelena and Taskmaster will be a part of this team, but who else will come to feature in the Thunderbolts? 

Who are the Thunderbolts, and what will their MCU future look like? 

Many individuals have fought as part of the Thunderbolts in Marvel comics, so who will come to comprise such a team remains anyone’s guess. However, if the rumors surrounding Norman Osborn’s “benefactor” role are true, he is one possible addition.

Venom — who currently exists in the Sony Spider-Verse — could work as another possible addition. Baren Zemo, Green Goblin, and Juggernaut have also made their way to the team, so the future possibilities remain quite diverse — spanning mutants, evil scientists, and more.

In the comics, the Thunderbolts team consists of some heroes and some villains — and things get morally gray and complex — yet, seeing Marvel Studios take such an approach would be a surprise. The black and white dichotomy between good and evil is often preserved in the Marvel cinematic space.