- Black Widow’s release date is approaching fast, with Marvel having just released the final trailer for the first MCU Phase 4 film.
- The movie is a prequel that will explore Natasha Romanoff’s actions following the events of Civil War and leading up to Infinity War. It will also likely offer clues about where the MCU is heading.
- Thanks to Endgame, however, we already have a mind-bending Black Widow paradox on our hands.
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I’ve written a lot about Black Widow in the past few weeks, not just because we saw plenty of new footage in the final trailer that was just released, but because the film’s entire plot and post-credits scenes may have leaked in great detail in the past few weeks. However, it was the final trailer that brought us plenty of extra footage an additional commentary, and it finally names the villain of the film. That made me realize that the first MCU Phase 4 movie will also deliver a mind-bending paradox for Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and it’s all thanks to Avengers: Endgame, of course.
As we’ve established before, Black Widow is the standalone movie that Nat and Scarlett deserve. Black Widow is a beloved original Avenger who appeared in several movies, including Iron Man, Captain America, and Avengers movies, but Disney never had the guts to make a Black Widow film until now. Sadly, the heroine is dead following the events of Endgame, as Nat sacrificed her life in one of Endgame’s most heartbreaking scenes. She gave up her life so that Clint could get the Soul Stone, a transaction that couldn’t be undone later. Black Widow is therefore a prequel, as was the case of other origin stories in the MCU. But the action in this film will also dictate events that might happen in 2023 or later, in the aftermath of Endgame.
It’s already a known fact that Black Widow takes place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War — so that’s sometime between 2016 and 2018. At the time, Romanoff was more or less on the run following the fight between Cap and Iron Man’s factions over the Sokovia Accords. While she was team Tony at first, Romanoff certainly helped Cap’s team as well, realizing something others wouldn’t necessarily see: That not everything is as black and white as the UN wants it to be when it comes to being a superhero.
But let’s get back to Endgame for a second, which moves the present time of the main MCU timeline to 2023. The Avengers all embark on the Time Heist mission in 2023, with each team set to tackle a specific set of Infinity Stones from different times. Endgame makes it clear from the get-go that time travel works differently than in other movies, and each modification of the past would trigger a new timeline branch, a new reality that will differ from the main one.
Romanoff goes back to 2014 with Hawkeye, Nebula, and War Machine, and the team splits up to go after two stones. Nat and Clint chase the Soul Stone on Vormir, and that’s where they realize one of them has to die for them to obtain the Soul Stone. So 2023 Natasha actually dies in 2014, in a timeline where a separate Natasha exists on Earth.
This brings me to the remarkable paradox I was talking about before. The Nat who will appear in Black Widow will be already dead by 2016-2018 when the movie takes place. Yes, she died in a different timeline and it was her future self who traveled to a different past when it all happened. And yes, this detail won’t matter for the Black Widow plot one bit.
However, this whole thing still goes to show how intricate the entire Marvel universe really is, and how complicated the timeline is. To put it differently, when Natasha was helping Cap unravel the whole Hydra infestation in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, she was simultaneously dying on a distant planet she never dreamed of visiting. Once you realize these things, you’ll never rewatch the movies the same way.
Then again, of course, there might be a possibility that the Nat who died on Vormir wasn’t our Nat at all. But that’s a Black Widow story for a different time.