This was me on Twitter a couple of days ago:

This is what Forbes’ Scott Mendelson, noticing the same connection I and so many others did, wrote about it later that same day:

Ironically enough, source material notwithstanding, Red Sparrow looks exceptionally like the Black Widow movie we’re never going to get. The movie is based on a novel by Jason Matthews, but (to casual observers) the film’s plot (a young Russian woman is harshly trained by scary-evil lady to become a master assassin but then has second thoughts) is pretty similar to Natalia Alianovna “Natasha” Romanoff’s origin as we saw in Avengers: Age of Ultron. That’s not a criticism, the world is big enough for Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Lawrence as top-notch Russian assassins, merely a curiosity.

This is the trailer in question:

This is the curiously timed story from Variety yesterday revealing Marvel is suddenly ready to move forward on an actual Black Widow movie:

Marvel is finally pushing ahead with the highly anticipated “Black Widow” standalone movie starring Scarlett Johansson, with Jac Schaeffer penning the script.

Sources say this is still very early development, as the film has no greenlight, but naming a writer is the closest the studio has come to moving forward on a standalone pic. Marvel President Kevin Feige met with several candidates before tapping Schaeffer, and Marvel execs met with Johansson to discuss what they wanted from a “Black Widow” writer.

Schaeffer directed, produced, and wrote the Black Mirror/The Lobster-esque sci-fi rom-com TiMER in 2009, and has since written several scripts for as-yet-unproduced Anne Hathaway projects as well as, gulp, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. So, some good (TiMER is remarkably charming), some not as good (Olaf is a perfectly competent, entirely unremarkable holiday TV special).

Not saying Red Sparrow necessarily forced Marvel’s hand. After all, Red Sparrow looks free to be a film for adults in ways Marvel Studios has, to this point, shown absolutely no interest in. So, if a Black Widow movie happens it probably won’t look like Red Sparrow, and Age of Ultron already did Natasha’s origin story anyway.

Still, for years Kevin Feige insisted a Black Widow movie was a possibility, yet never moved on it, even after escaping out from under former boss Ike Perlmutter and his antiquated female-led-comic-book-movies-are-losers thinking. Now, all of a sudden Fox’s very Black Widow-esque movie is almost here, and two days after its big trailer debut an industry trade learns Marvel has hired someone to write a Black Widow screenplay. Interesting timing. Granted, it could also be a coincidence, especially since Variety says Marvel has been interviewing prospective writers and consulting with Scarlett Johansson on this for a while now.

Either way, I guess this does spoil the following: Natasha’s probably not gonna die in those new Avengers movies, that is unless her proposed solo movie is some kind of prequel.

That is, of course, if this Black Widow movie ever happens. Marvel Studios has stacks and stacks of unproduced scripts just sitting around and gathering dust, and after the one-two punch of box office flops Ghost in the Shell and Rough Night last year ScarJo’s not exactly in a great place in terms of leverage (which might make here even more amenable to sticking with Marvel but give them pause in terms of budget). But, hey, you’re telling us there’s a chance.

Positive take away: The world might just be big enough for two Black Widow movies. It didn’t use to have room for even just one. Progress.

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Posted by Kelly Konda

Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

7 Comments

  1. To be fair, when he escaped from Perlmutter’s clutches the slate was already planned up to Avengers 4. Thus said, I’ll believe that we get a Black Widow movie when it is actually on the slate.

    I just hope that if it happens it won’t be a prequel. I don’t want to go backwards with the character.

    Reply

    1. The weird thing is that since Natasha has floated from the Iron Man to the Avengers to the Cap and now back to the Avengers franchises we’ve actually already learned a fair deal about her, at least exactly as much as we probably would have in a solo origins movie. So, I also don’t see much use for a prequel at this point. That’s the obvious thing to do. Go back. Show us her as a little girl. Progress her through the program. Build up to her being recruited by Nick Fury. But that’s…well, just so Wonder Woman. It’s not the story that needs to be told about Black Widow anymore. Instead, maybe send her back home to Russia for some kind of mission. There you can cue up some flashbacks if need be to delve into her background a little more (kind of ala Cap being back on his old base in Winter Soldier). Or give her a sexy, fun international spy movie. Whatever. Just don’t do a straight-up prequel. Like you, “I don’t want to go backwards with the character.”

      Reply

      1. I also think that part of her appeal is that we don’t know everything about it. And after all those years filling the blanks with something specific will just lead to a lot of fans being annoyed that their personal head canon is being destroyed.

        I really, really want a James Bond style spy movie, but I fear they won’t go there. Which is too bad. There are a few female Spy movies which are more along the line of the Borne style, from La Femma Nikita to, I assume, this newest take on a female spy, but I can’t think of a single one in which a woman is allowed to just have fun being a spy, sleep around a little bit and being overall awesome.

        I also want Sharon Carter and Maria Hill as her back-up team!

        And if Marvel actually decides to do the Secret invasion storyline in phase 4 (I hope they do), her being on a mission which leads to her discovering what is going on could actually be a great set-up movie for Avengers 5.

      2. “There are a few female Spy movies which are more along the line of the Borne style, from La Femma Nikita to, I assume, this newest take on a female spy, but I can’t think of a single one in which a woman is allowed to just have fun being a spy, sleep around a little bit and being overall awesome.”

        Atomic Blonde is the first to come to mind.

        “I also want Sharon Carter and Maria Hill as her back-up team!”

        I was going to say, in the article, that they could use this as the female team-up movie Tessa Thompson and others asked Feige for, but I backed off because on second thought that feels like its own project and Black Widow should get her own movie. However, that doesn’t mean they couldn’t throw in some of the characters who would make sense for a Black Widow movie, like Maria Hill and Sharon Carter. Smulders and VanCamp probably still have films left on their contract anyway.

        “And if Marvel actually decides to do the Secret invasion storyline in phase 4 (I hope they do), her being on a mission which leads to her discovering what is going on could actually be a great set-up movie for Avengers 5.”

        Agreed. Marvel’s not gonna go all Fox on us anytime soon. The opposite, in fact, is more likely. So, a Black Widow won’t just be an $80m side adventure that doesn’t mean much to continuity. It will have to fit in somehow, and I actually really like your idea for how to do that.

      3. I guess I have to watch Atomic Blonde then….

  2. Yah! The huge difference between Red Sparrow and Black Widow is that I wont be seeing Red Sparrow. Give me a Black Widow movie (something I’ve been stanning for since I first saw her in Iron Man) and I’ll be right there, demanding that someone take my money.

    Reply

    1. I used my MoviePass to see three movies this weekend on back-to-back-to-back days, and each time I was there I had to watch that damn Red Sparrow trailer again. I was actually excited to see Sparrow before that little bit of torture. Now, I’m suddenly sick of this damn movie (and more aware of Lawrence’s shaky accent). Like, why do Hollywood men keep making movies about trying (and, in some cases, failing) to tame Jennifer Lawrence, even as far back as Hunger Games?

      Either way, I’m with you in that a Black Widow movie holds more immediate interest.

      Reply

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