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Black Widow Set Visit Reports Give Us a Deeper Look at Natasha Romanoff

Natasha romanoff in black widow

Black Widow is finally coming to theaters and today, information was released from set visits that outlets got to go on back in 2019. Yes, that’s just how long we’ve been waiting for information from set. For the last year now (well, more than a year), we have been waiting to see where Black Widow takes Natasha.

Since 2010, Nat has been a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but she often took a back seat to the men of the Avengers. She was always there, but she wasn’t ever the main focus, and this is her first standalone outing. But rather than going back to the life Natasha once had, the movie is going to focus on the Nat we know and love, and her journey with her past family and her newfound family in the Avengers.

The set visits gave deeper looks into the dynamic between Natasha and her “sister” Yelena, exploring their relationship and connection, including the connection we’ve all noticed between Natasha’s Infinity War look and Yelena, how their dynamic wound up much different and less adversarial than originally planned, and that “This film is … essentially about women that have been abused. Whether it’s about a system or whether it’s about physical abuse, they’ve all been, in some way, trapped,” according to Yelena actor Florence Pugh.

They also gave us a better look at where Natasha is when we see her in Black Widow versus the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What we know about the movie is that it takes place after Captain America: Civil War and prior to Natasha’s blonde return in Avengers: Infinity War. Johansson explained why they chose that specific time in Nat’s life, rather than go for a more traditional “origin story” like we usually get in standalone superhero films:

Post-Civil War felt like a good time to start. We never intended on doing an origin story. I never wanted to do an origin story because I just didn’t want to go back, back. I wanted to move forward, even though we are going back, but it all makes sense when you see it. It felt like a good time because Natasha, she has always been, she’s always worked for someone. She’s always been a part of some operation. She’s always had some safety net. Not necessarily, I don’t know if safety net is the best way to put it, but she’s always been an operative, and she’s actually never really had to, for better or worse, make any decisions for herself.

She’s right. Before Nat was working for Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., she was a Black Widow and barely had time to think for herself. It was constantly someone else’s choice, and even when she was working for the Avengers, she wasn’t the team leader. She did what Tony or Steve needed, and Civil War is pretty much the first time she makes a decision completely on her own within that group. She was helping Tony but let Steve and Bucky go because she knew it was the right thing to do.

Since Black Widow was announced, I never knew why they chose post-Civil War specifically. There were plenty of times throughout the Marvel canon we could have seen Nat, but that particular moment, when they’re on the run? It just felt like an arbitrary choice. But this is an extremely interesting way of looking at Nat as a character—especially if she, like Johansson, views this new “freedom” in the same way.

It also does make me a little emotional to know that Natasha is moving forward and we’re not looking back at a story we should have gotten years ago. It frankly sucks that it’s taken this long for a Black Widow movie. We all know it, we all have expressed that upset, and getting to see Nat’s journey 10 years later would feel a bit like a disservice to the growth she’s had on screen. But learning about her past while still taking her on a journey moving forward? That’s the perfect kind of arc for Natasha Romanoff.

Johansson also talked about Nat’s sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame and her willingness to throw herself off a cliff in Vormir so that the Avengers could bring back what they lost when Thanos snapped.

In some weird, messed up, backwards way, if any person could be truly altruistic and totally weird, because nobody is obviously, but actually the act that she… Her sacrifice was a truly altruistic offering. I think she really sacrifices herself, in a way, no just really out of love, for love, she saves her friend. She saves everyone, but she saves her friend. And I think that just being in that kind of head space and being able to make that decision, that selfless decision, that selfless act, is so incredibly powerful. It’s amazing that she could be in that head space to do that.

But Johansson also went on to praise director Cate Shortland for the journey they went on with Natasha and how Shortland wasn’t afraid to look at the ugly parts of Natasha’s history and explore them.

It’s been an interesting evolution, and it’s been interesting to discover it with each director that I’ve worked with and what they see, what they’re interested in and what side they want to uncover. And with Cate [Shortland], it’s been so liberating because she’s not afraid of any of the ugliness, or what is perceived to be ugliness, the embarrassing, uncomfortable parts, the soft underbelly, all that. That’s what she wants to make movies about, so it’s been… I hope that in this, you see Natasha in her real, true strength in this film, more than ever before, and that Cate will bring that out, too.

Black Widow is finally hitting theaters this July 9th and I can’t wait to see what the past holds for Natasha Romanoff.

(via, image: Marvel Entertainment)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.