Marvel has officially begun spinning its latest web. Snaps of Black Widow actress Scarlett Johansson on the set of the upcoming superhero standalone hit the internet on Wednesday, confirming that production is now underway in Sæbø, Norway.
The photographs themselves, some shared by Norwegian news outlet Dagbladet and others uploaded by NRK, feature Johansson doing normal actor-type things while filming a movie and aren’t all that interesting, if we’re being totally candid here.
She’s seen filming scenes where Natasha Romanoff does relatively unremarkable stuff: she pops into a local convenience store, puts bags in a car, and takes a ferry to an unknown destination. No one else that Marvel fans would recognize can be spotted on the set, so it seems that Black Widow director Cate Shortland may be getting some of Johansson’s solo scenes completed first.
Something that is of note, however, is Johansson’s hair color. In the pictures, she sports Natasha’s signature red tresses which offers a clue as to when the Black Widow movie takes place.
The only time Black Widow didn’t have completely red hair in the MCU was when she rocked a blonde bob in Avengers: Infinity War, and when she sported a half-blonde, half-ginger hairdo after the five-year time jump in Avengers: Endgame. Given that Black Widow sacrificed herself in Avengers: Endgame, throwing herself off the cliff on Vormir so that Hawkeye could retrieve the Soul Stone and help complete the Avengers’ time heist mission, the only option for the Black Widow film’s time setting is the past. Her hair color in these set photos backs up that notion.
It also seems to corroborate previous reports claiming that Black Widow is a prequel film set in two different time periods, one that follows Natasha during her time spent working as a state secret agent for the KGB, and another that picks up 15 years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which happened in 1991. This would mean that Black Widow would partially take place during Natasha’s teenage years, then document her trials and triumphs in the year 2006 as she forms her own identity and finds her way in the U.S.
Since Johansson’s Black Widow didn’t debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe until 2010, first appearing in the Iron Man sequel, there’s plenty of time to range over and gaps in the hero’s on-screen story to fill.
On the flip side, some have speculated that perhaps the solo movie is set in the more recent past, the five years between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Geeks WorldWide writer Thomas Polito theorized on Twitter that the upcoming film could see Black Widow training her replacement, referring to a different secret agent character from the comics who first appeared in the late-90s:
“Theory: The film takes place between Infinity War and Endgame, and features Nat training a new Black Widow (Yelena Belova, perhaps?) who will factor into future movies. Flashbacks to Nat’s past will be sprinkled throughout the film as well.”
It’s not hard to see how this theory could work: Avengers: Endgame showed audiences that while the other Avengers went on their own journeys after the snap, Black Widow was trying to keep things together and continue protecting the world in the event of another massive threat. She organized meetings with other still-active heroes, and even tracked down Hawkeye to bring him home. It wouldn’t be the craziest thing to think that Natasha used a few years after the Snap and before the time heist to train another heroine to take her place, should something happen to her.
Conjecture aside, there’s one thing about Black Widow of which we are certain: Johansson will reportedly share the screen with a shining group of stars. Fighting with My Family and Midsommar actress Florence Pugh, The Handmaid’s Tale actor O-T Fagbenle, Stranger Things and Hellboy actor David Harbour, and Academy Award-winner Rachel Weisz are all said have joined the cast of Black Widow or have otherwise been in talks to do so.
According to a March 2019 article from The Hollywood Reporter, Pugh’s character has arguably the biggest part to play. She’s described as, quote, “a spy on the same level as [Black Widow], likely her moral opposite.” Will Pugh’s character be a new Black Widow in training? Will she be her number-one competition within the KGB? Could she be both? No matter what the story turns out to be, we’re excited to find out.
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