While Marvel fans will have to wait until November for the release of the upcoming Black Widow movie, they can look forward to a new era of Marvel heroes on the horizon. In addition to giving Scarlett Johansson’s MCU character a proper sendoff, providing closure for many fans, Black Widow has also been rumored to be setting up Florence Pugh’s character Yelena Belova as a new superhero set to take over the reigns from Johansson.
In an interview with Empire magazine, the film’s director, Cate Shortland, confirmed that Black Widow is meant to not only pay tribute and provide closure for Johansson’s character, but also act as a passing of the baton from her to Pugh within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“[Kevin Feige] realized that the audience would expect an origin story so, of course, we went in the opposite direction,” Shortland said. “And we didn’t know how great Florence Pugh would be. We knew she would be great, but we didn’t know how great. Scarlett is so gracious, like, ‘Oh, I’m handing her the baton.’ So it’s going to propel another female storyline.”
In 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, viewers saw Johansson’s character Natasha Romanoff die, however this standalone spinoff will act as a prequel of sorts to fill in some of the gaps in her backstory, which has remained mostly unknown up to this point. The story follows Natasha as she returns to Russia to her “found family” which includes Red Guardian (David Harbour), Russia’s equivalent of Captain America, Iron Maiden (Rachel Weisz), a veteran spy and agent for the Russian government, and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), a sister-figure to Natasha who also seems to be the apparent successor to the Black Widow franchise.
While Pugh will have some big shoes to fill, she has proved herself time and time again as a talented actress receiving acclaimed success from her breakout role in the 2016 drama Lady Macbeth, earning her first Oscar nominations for her performance in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, and showing her versatility with her praised performance in Ari Aster’s Midsommar. Pugh will make her Hollywood tentpole debut with Black Widow and given her previous successes in her career and Shortland’s praise, this might just be the beginning for the actress within the Marvel Universe.
Initially set to open in theaters on May 1, due the coronavirus pandemic, Disney pushed back the release date. Black Widow is now scheduled to open in theaters November 6.