The Marvel Cinematic Universe has churned out thirteen films in eight years, marking one of the most popular film franchises of all time. Yet a lingering question arises nearly every time a new entry into their canon makes its global assault into cinemas, as is the case with this weekend’s super-sized Captain America: Civil War - why have they not yet capitalized on a solo film featuring one of their most popular characters? That would be Black Widow, but of course. Scarlett Johansson has portrayed the character numerous times, debuting her super-spy all the way back in 2010’s Iron Man 2 and yet she’s never headlined her own film. Frankly, it’s been a problem for Marvel and one they haven’t really handled altogether well throughout the years in the public relations game.
However, a light at the end of the tunnel may be arriving as Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has sort-of, if by no way officially came out and said a Black Widow standalone property may be happening. In a sit-down with Deadline, Feige asserted, vaguely but in a forthright tone, that Marvel was “committed” to a Black Widow vehicle.
We’ve announced the next nine movies, ten counting Civil War, through the end of 2019. Where we go beyond that are ongoing discussions that we’ll focus on in the next few years because we have a lot to do before then. Of the characters that you’ve just mentioned I would say certainly the one creatively and emotionally that we are most committing to doing is Black Widow.
Feige continued by stating:
We think she’s an amazing character. We think Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of her is amazing. She’s a lead Avenger and has amazing stories in her own right to tell that we think would be fun to turn into a standalone franchise.
It’s a bit jarring to consider that the synergy-friendly Marvel hasn’t jumped on this sooner especially considering Black Widow’s popularity within the franchise as well as Johansson’s popularity amongst fans and critics – for further prodding, her 2014 action vehicle Lucy was a global blockbuster. Furthermore, consider Black Widow was introduced to the Marvel family a full year before mainstays Thor (the subject of two standalone films, with a third on the way) and Captain America (three standalone movies, though Civil War has an Avengers 2.0 vibe) and five full years ahead of Ant-Man (already one standalone with a sequel coming soon).
Marvel has gotten into trouble in years past on terms of gender imbalance from everything from standalone features to action figures. While there’s nods of progress for the future with this somewhat, if not exactly clearly defined commitment to a Black Widow vehicle as well as the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp and the female-led Captain Marvel feature in the works, we still have to sit tight. From a logistical perspective, Marvel is booked up until 2020 and even if Feige’s “commitment” to a Black Widow solo venture, nothing is clearly set as of yet and will take years to get off the ground. For now, Johansson’s winking Saturday Night Live sketch is the farthest we have come. We will stay tuned.