On July 9, 2021, Marvel Cinematic Universe fans will (presumably) get a chance to watch the new Black Widow movie. I use the word “presumably” because this poor movie has been through quite a convoluted journey on its way to theaters.
This movie was originally slated for a May 2020 release, but then the COVID pandemic interfered. I lost track of how many times this movie was postponed and rescheduled, and I’m at the point where I won’t believe it’s really happening until I’m actually sitting down to watch it and the official MCU intro animation plays onscreen.
I wish I could say I was super hyped for the Black Widow movie. I’m definitely planning to watch it, and I’m sure it will be an enjoyable experience. However, my current excitement level has plateaued at “Well, that looks pretty fun” — vs. my hype level for Dune, a film whose trailer I have watched more times than I can count and I might go crazy if the release date gets postponed again.
This isn’t necessarily the fault of the Black Widow film. Whenever I hear that movie title or see a trailer for it, I think back to what a long, terrible, stressful, depressing, anxiety-inducing year 2020 was. Black Widow reminds me of all the other movies, cons, and activities that were cancelled or postponed. For me, the constantly shifting Black Widow release date became a symbol of the 2020 dumpster fire, a year that was, quite frankly, one of the worst years of my life and an experience I’m infinitely glad to leave behind.
There’s also the fact that as a prequel, Black Widow is a backwards vs. forwarding-looking film. What I mean by that is, all the other recent or upcoming Marvel projects — WandaVision, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, etc. — all relate to the MCU’s future. They’re pushing the franchise in new directions, giving us new characters and new plotlines and promising to show us things we’ve never seen before.
The Black Widow movie not only takes place in the past, it’s a movie that’s being released after Black Widow’s death in Endgame, which frankly sucks a lot of the energy out of this story. Endgame was a wonderful, epic movie, but I wasn’t a fan of how Black Widow’s death was handled (it felt too much like fridging to me).
The Black Widow movie feels like a Phase 1 or 2 Marvel movie that was hidden in some vault and forgotten about, and is being belatedly released now. Marvel took far too long to give us a solo female superhero film, and Black Widow the character deserved better than a Phase 4 release after her onscreen death.
I personally feel Disney should have released Black Widow on Disney+ last year. Not only would it have been a fun morale booster in the midst of our collective 2020 blues, I would have been really excited to see it then, and probably would have gladly paid an extra $30 to stream it, like they wanted us to do with the live-action Mulan.
Now that I’ve gotten all that negativity out of the way, of course I’m still going to watch this movie with an open mind and hope to have a good time. It’s entirely possible that it will surprise me, in a similar way to WandaVision. Originally, I wasn’t super hyped for WandaVision, but this show blew me away with just how good it was. Maybe Black Widow will turn out to be an action-packed thriller that gives Black Widow the closure she needs as a character — the closure that Endgame didn’t necessarily provide.
And while I may not be jumping up and down with excitement over Black Widow, I really am pumped for the future of the MCU. The trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings looked incredible, and I can’t wait to watch the movie. The cast for Eternals is amazing and as someone who knows nothing about these characters, I’m looking forward to seeing a new side of the MCU universe. Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is going to be delightfully trippy and mind-bending.
Looking ahead, there’s plenty to be excited for in the MCU. Hopefully Black Widow will be worth the wait!