After more than a year of waiting — and ten years after Scarlett Johansson first appeared as the titular character in the Marvel movie Iron Man 2 — Marvel Studios has finally released the Black Widow solo movie that tells us her origin story.
If you’re wondering how this new movie fits into the period of the Marvel cinematic universe, read on to find out.
Black Widow Marvel Timeline
Marvel movies are rarely linear, and the MCU timeline can be quite confusing. And the last time you saw her, you’re pretty sure you saw Natasha’s death at the present day at the end of Avengers: Endgame. So how does Black Widow fit into the MCU timeline?
Black Widow is set earlier in the Marvel timeline, and in case you need clarification, this is exactly when the story of Black Widow happens in the MCU timeline: right after Captain America: Civil War and before Avengers: Infinity War. So around 2016-ish.
If you need a more specific timeframe, Black Widow takes place right during the events of Captain America: Civil War film, before Natasha betrays Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and switches sides to Team Cap.
In Civil War, Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier) were in hiding, and Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man, and Falcon were imprisoned in an underwater jail called the Raft. Iron Man and his team were under the government’s control.
At the beginning of the movie, we hear Secretary Ross (William Hurt) say that Clint Barton (Hawkeye), Sam Wilson (Falcon), and The Incredible Shrinking Convict (Ant-Man) are in custody, which places us in this timeline. Furthermore, she also comments about feeling left alone and the Avengers breaking up throughout the movie.
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MCU Story Lines During Black Widow
Here are some Marvel storylines taking place simultaneously during the Black Widow timeline.
The Black Widow prologue, wherein we see a young Natasha Romanoff, takes place in 1995. We see her as an 11-year-old living in Ohio with her seemingly normal family, but we then learn that this is just a ruse. Her “parents,” Red Guardian Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour) and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), were Russian spies on a three-year mission to obtain mind-controlling technology from SHIELD.
The main events of Captain Marvel are happening at the same time.
Most of Black Widow takes place in 2016, after she betrays Team Iron Man and helps Captain America (Chris Evans) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) escape in the Civil War movie.
Natasha decides to hide in Europe, but her pretend sister from the past, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), gets in touch with her as she is also a fugitive who broke free from the mind-control training center called the Red Room. The film is largely set around this plot.
Remembering her own time in the Red Room, she helped her adoptive family bring it down.
At this time, we know that the events of Civil War are happening, as well as the marvel movies Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok.
The post-credits scene in Black Widow takes place in the MCU sometime in 2023, right after Natasha dies in Avengers: Endgame. We see Yelena cleaning her grave.
Other events happening around the same period are WandaVision, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
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Do Dreykov and the Widows Play a Part in Other MCU Story Lines?
Although Dreykov played a big role in Natasha’s past, he didn’t play that big a part in other Marvel storylines. We learn that he is the Red Room instructor and that he has a wide network of young girls that he called “widows,” but that’s it.
The “widows” are trained to become deadly assassins and are mind-controlled and psychologically trained to stay obedient. In a way, the young girls become some form of human weapon.
Black Widow Ending
When we see Natasha in the film's final scene, she has a dramatically new look: her hair is blonde and she’s sporting her sister’s jacket. She meets Mason, a contrabandist, who loans her a jet to aid in the Raft prison break.
In the film Captain America: Civil War, when Captain America finally arrived and broke inside the Raft to rescue his friends, he was using a jet. And although we don’t see Black Widow Natasha anywhere in the scene, we learn of her contribution through the film.
Is Natasha Really Dead? Post-Credit Explained
We see Natasha die in Planet Vormir while helping Hawkeye retrieve the Soul Stone at the end of Avengers: Endgame, so yes, she’s really dead.
After the credits roll, we see Yelena cleaning her grave and Contessa Valentina (Julia Louis Dreyfus), Val in short, approaching. Yelena complains about having to talk about work during her vacation, and Val tells her that she’s got a new target lined up for her. She shows a picture of Hawkeye.
We don’t know why Val would want Hawkeye dead, but we assume this is going to be revealed in the Hawkeye TV series.
Is Hawkeye in Black Widow?
While Hawkeye is referenced plenty of times in the movie, Jeremy Renner, who plays Hawkeye, never actually appears in the film.
Who is Black Widow's sister?
Although they aren’t blood-related, Natasha grew up with Yelena for a few years in Ohio while her pretend family was out on a secret mission to obtain mind-control technology from SHIELD.
Why did Marvel change Taskmaster in Black Widow?
In the Black Widow comics, Taskmaster is a criminal who has uncanny photographic reflexes . He can mimic the movements of his adversaries and thus be able to predict every one of their moves. In one incident, he trained a few on the fighting style of Captain America and how best to defeat him. His name is Tony Masters.
In the Black Widow movie, however, Taskmaster is a mind-controlled Antonia Dreykov, the daughter of the same Dreykov from the Red Room. This move felt like nothing more than just a way to amp up the drama, and the character felt like a waste as she didn’t even display any of the signature Taskmaster moves.
Although we feel that the MCU movie Black Widow didn’t really contribute anything new to the franchise story-wise, it still gives the titular Black Widow character her much-needed background and stitches a few plots neatly.
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