The upcoming Black Widow movie from Marvel Studios and Disney may come with a nasty, unexpected surprise: the Y2K bug. Keep in mind that this is only a rumor, but MCU Cosmic claims that it comes from a reliable source, and it not only sounds plausible but also really interesting, so we’re running with it. The idea of Russian spy Black Widow, a.k.a. Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) racing to stop a potentially cataclysmic worldwide event that turned out to be a big nothing-burger in real life is intriguing, and not only is it an idea-horse that hasn’t been beaten to death, but it’s also a near-traumatic real-life event that many Marvel fans experienced first-hand. With the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first female solo film, Captain Marvel, taking place in the 1990’s, the timeline for a Black Widow 2000-era solo film could fit in nicely as well.
The Y2K bug is a phenomenon that took place in 1999, when computer gurus around the world realized that computer programs written in ancient times wouldn’t know what to do after December 31, 1999 because years were only programmed with two digits (for example, 1980 would be listed as simply 80). Hence, January 1, 2000 could be interpreted by computer systems as being January 1, 1900, sending us all back to the horse and buggy days. This could cause banks, power plants, and transportation systems to malfunction and possibly explode. Money and finger-based labor was thrown at the problem, and thanks to the sweat of millions of nerds disaster was averted.
But what if Y2K was really an apocalyptic event that a handful of talented spies prevented? That’s the idea potentially in play if screenwriter David Hayter (Watchmen, X-Men 1 & 2) and director Cate Shortland decide to go that route. Since Hayter is also the voice of Solid Snake in the English versions of the Metal Gear Solid video game franchise, perhaps Snake Plissken could even lend a hand. That would be a hell of a crossover, especially since a Metal Gear Solid movie is on the way.
Marvel fans older than thirty would certainly remember Y2K and the hysteria surrounding an event that turned out to be a dud, so treating it as a major threat addressed by a younger Black Widow (and other heroes) in the MCU could be a great hook. Romanoff would only be 16 in the year 2000, so we’d be looking at another application for Marvel’s age-reducing CGI technology. Also, prominent Black Widow compatriots such as Captain America, Bruce Banner, Bucky Barnes, and Hawkeye would be tricky to fit into the timeline (especially Cap, who would be frozen in ice), though they could contrast current events with an origin story in the film.
Luckily the Black Widow movie is still a few years off, so Hayter and Shortland have plenty of time to sort out the details of this highly-anticipated stand-alone superhero film. Whether or not the Y2K bug features prominently in the final film remains a mystery, but it makes for an intriguing idea, and I for one would be happier thinking of Y2K as a time when cool spies kicked ass and saved the world rather than hours of heroic pasty dudes hammering away at keyboards.
Update: A post just leaked online that may provide a vague synopsis of the plot for Black Widow. It’s unclear if this came from a production company or Marvel Studios, but it seems legit. The fall of the Soviet Union took place around 1990, so if the film is set in 2005-2006 then our Y2K rumor may be kaput.
“At birth the Black Widow (aka Natasha Romanova) is given to the KGB, which grooms her to become its ultimate operative. When the U.S.S.R. breaks up, the government tries to kill her as the action moves to present-day New York, where she is a freelance operative. The standalone film will find Romanoff living in the United States 15 years after the fall of the Soviet Union.”