Marvel’s Black Widow movie is five years too late

The first trailer for Marvel’s long-awaited Black Widow movie is here, but no matter how good it looks, it’s hard to escape the idea that this film should have come out five years ago.

Let’s just make one thing clear: We’re here for Marvel’s Black Widow movie. The first trailer looks amazing – Genuine emotional beats! That fight with Yelena! Nat’s white suit! – and pretty much exactly like what fans have been asking for a very long time.

The problem is that it’s all coming about five years too late.

Natasha Romanov is a groundbreaking character. She’s been an essential part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the better part of a decade, first appearing in Iron Man 2 before showing up in multiple other sequels and all the Avengers team-up films. For far too long, she was the MCU’s only visible female hero in a world that included no less than three white guys named Chris.

Yet, despite the fact that she was generally used as a supporting device in other characters’ stories, Black Widow has consistently been one of the most popular heroes in the Marvel film universe. And fans have been clamoring for a Natasha Romanov solo film for years, insisting that she deserves the chance to tell her own story, for once.

This is 100% true. And, on some level, its beyond exciting that this character, who is beloved by so many, will finally get the spotlight that’s been so long denied her. The movie looks great. It appears like we might finally get some real in-depth backstory on who Natasha is and where she comes from. And the fight sequences…wow. There are even multiple women behind the scenes crafting Nat’s story.

And yet.

Watching the trailer, it’s impossible not to still mourn what might have been.

Because just as Natasha has finally earned the right to tell her own story, her story itself has ended. Black Widow is essentially a flashback, set in the gap after Captain America: Civil War, that will likely fill in a lot of the gaps surrounding Nat’s character, but won’t move the story forward very far. Because in the current MCU timeline, Black Widow is dead, having sacrificed herself in Avengers: Endgame to defeat Thanos. The question of whether that was a death the character deserved is still open for debate, but there’s no denying it happened. And, as a result, we’re all getting a Natasha character piece that doesn’t much matter anymore.

Will it make us feel even worse that Black Widow is gone forever? Probably. Is it also introducing her potential replacement in Nat’s sister – and fellow assassin – Yelena Belova? It seems likely. But other than that, what is the point of this movie?

Retconning some grief into Endgame? Making us all wish this movie had been made in 2013 when we might have actually seen a real franchise for Nat develop, as it so clearly has for Carol Danvers and Captain Marvel? Reminding us all what the MCU might be today if it had released its first female-lead solo film immediately after Avengers, when it made both narrative and

Honestly, Black Widow feels like nothing so much as yet another example of how Marvel and the folks in charge of it just never understood why this character mattered to so many fans.

Does it matter if we get a Black Widow solo movie when we already know that story can’t continue? When we’ve already witnessed the lack of…well, everything meaningful, surrounding her death? This film – which, let’s not forget, has been rumored to be happening for literal years – now has the feeling of a delayed contractual obligation as much as a fresh story.

To put it another way: If Marvel didn’t care about telling this story – or about giving Natasha Romanov her due – until right now, when it seems financially convenient to do so and when they only have to do so once, why should we be interested in seeing it?

Obviously, we’re probably all going to watch Black Widow. We all deserve to see this character one more time – and the opportunity to have our final image of Natasha Romanov be something other than her broken body at the bottom of a mystical mountain on an alien world. But though most of us will likely leave the theater convinced, yet again, of what an amazing character she is – we’ll probably also be thinking about Marvel wasted so much of what made her great.

Yes, she finally got her solo movie. But Natasha Romanov still deserved better.

Next: Black Widow’s first trailer shows Natasha returning to where it all began

Black Widow will hit theaters on May 1, 2020. 

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