Black Widow director explains why Scarlett Johansson starrer MCU film doesn’t have Tony Stark cameo

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The Indian Express 12 July, 2021 - 10:07pm 16 views

Who plays Yelena in Black Widow?

Aside from giving Natasha a long-awaited solo film and finally putting the character front and center, Black Widow has another function. It's also a backdoor introduction to Yelena Belova, played by Florence Pugh. SYFY WIREWho is Yelena Belova, and why is she the next Black Widow?

Is taskmaster in Black Widow?

Every good Marvel superhero needs a supervillain, so as Black Widow stepped up for her solo movie debut, it's only natural that she got a signature bad guy to go along with her. In Black Widow, that's Taskmaster, the mysterious killer with the ability to learn any fighting technique simply by watching it. PolygonWho is the Taskmaster in Black Widow?

How much did it cost to make black widow?

Cate Shortland directed the movie, which cost at least $200 million to produce. Disney also said that “Black Widow” grossed $78 million overseas, bringing its world-wide box office total to $158 million. The Wall Street JournalDisney’s ‘Black Widow’ Tops Box Office, Lifting Prospect of Moviegoing Rebound

Natasha Romanoff finally got her own movie, but while it served as a proper send-off for the first female Avenger, it also had one eye on what’s next

It’s difficult to shake the feeling that Black Widow arrived years late. But the movie still provides closure for a character who had long been underserved: the MCU’s first female superhero. “I feel like I’m going out on a high note with a movie I’m incredibly proud of,’’ Scarlett Johansson recently told Variety. “I feel like my work with Natasha is complete, if that is such a thing. I’ve explored many facets of her person, and feel that her choice to sacrifice her life for her best friends was one that she made actively and with resolve.”

But as with every Marvel movie, Black Widow also has one eye on the future. The movie bids farewell to Johansson while setting up another actress to take the mantle, and uses this yet-to-be-explored facet of the universe as a breeding ground for new story lines and characters. And so, here are some of the biggest takeaways from the film—how it concluded Natasha’s story, and where the franchise is headed following Johansson’s departure.

The pandemic forced Marvel to swap that order, and now Valentina’s post-credits scene builds on her intro in Falcon. If not for the delays, though, Val’s meeting with Yelena in front of Natasha’s grave would’ve been a fitting parallel to Samuel L. Jackson’s MCU debut in 2008’s Iron Man. When Jackson made his first appearance as Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. was attempting to recruit Tony Stark to his growing team of Avengers. Now, over a decade later, Valentina is forming a superteam of her own, only one that’s markedly more villainous.

It’s clear from Valentina and Yelena’s encounter that Yelena already has been working for her for some time. Yelena tells her boss that she’s cutting into her holiday time and that she wants a raise before Valentina delivers Yelena’s next target. “Maybe you’d like a shot at the man responsible for your sister’s death,” Valentina says as she hands Yelena a picture of Clint Barton. “Kind of a cutie, don’t you think?”

Valentina’s past in the MCU remains unclear, including whether she has any ties to the terrorist organization Hydra or S.H.I.E.L.D., like her character does in the comics. But after recruiting guys like U.S. Agent who go around publicly executing their enemies and assigning Yelena to kill an Avenger, Valentina is shaping up to be a major villain. (How she could possibly know what happened between Natasha and Clint on an alien planet in Endgame beats me, but having been a politician in a former life, she seems to know a thing or two about spinning the truth.) With Valentina putting together a superteam, the MCU could be setting up the introduction of villainous squads from the comics, such as the Thunderbolts or the Dark Avengers.

Aside from becoming a new dog owner, it seems like Yelena has been putting her Black Widow training to use in the years since the events of Black Widow concluded in 2016. With Hawkeye assigned as her next target, Yelena will soon face off with the arrow-slinging Avenger and his new mentee, Kate Bishop, who will make her debut in Hawkeye. Clint has been closely linked with Natasha ever since 2012’s The Avengers; the guy even named his son Nathaniel “Nate” Barton in her honor. Black Widow explained their long-teased mission together in Budapest, which deepened their bond further: Clint helped Natasha take down General Dreykov and the Red Room (or so they thought) in Budapest when she chose to defect to S.H.I.E.L.D. Years later, he tried comically hard to sacrifice himself instead of Natasha on Vormir in their mini fight to the death in Endgame. And now, he is being blamed for it.

Given Yelena’s heroics in Black Widow and Clint’s history with Natasha, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if Yelena eventually realizes that Val has tricked her into trying to take down an Avenger under false pretenses. Such a discovery could lead to her splitting off from Valentina’s team and joining whatever new iteration of the Avengers will likely arrive in the future, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens in Hawkeye to find out where Yelena is heading next. For now, all we need to know is that the mantle of the Black Widow is in incredibly good hands with Pugh as the MCU turns to new heroes and villains in Phase 4. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another decade for a Black Widow sequel.

For Natasha’s adopted family, Pugh’s Yelena is the closest analogue to her original character. Like she is in Black Widow, Yelena is a graduate of the Red Room’s Black Widow program. She’s younger than Natasha, and is the only one to ever exceed her physical test scores in the Red Room. But she’s also less experienced and more naive, and Natasha takes her to school on more than one occasion. Meanwhile, Melina is another Russian assassin with a jealousy and hatred for the original Black Widow. Unlike her MCU counterpart, though, Melina didn’t pass through the Black Widow program five times—also, she wears an iron mask and masquerades as the villainous Iron Maiden. Lastly, Alexei is the oldest comic book character between the three, with his first appearance coming in the late 1960s. His character is meant to be the Soviet Union’s response to Captain America, and unlike David Harbour’s hapless Red Guardian, the Russian super soldier actually fought against Steve Rogers. Strangely enough, though, in the comics, Alexei is not Natasha’s adopted father, but rather her husband. (That said, that backstory is very convoluted, they’re married for only a short time, and it’s also been retconned, along with much of Natasha’s origins in the comics.)

As for Taskmaster, Black Widow’s largely silent villain bears little resemblance to the character in the comics. Instead of being the brainwashed Antonia Dreykov, Taskmaster was originally a mercenary named Anthony “Tony” Masters. The two versions essentially share the same powers in being able to mimic the abilities of their enemies, but Tony’s capabilities are borne from his “photographic reflexes,” as opposed to Antonia’s reliance on technology. Since Black Widow didn’t afford much time to Antonia’s own origins—I think she has, like, one line in the entire film—it isn’t even clear whether she can do anything without the aid of her fancy suit.

As is always the case of the working relationship between the MCU and the comic books that its films and TV shows draw from, Black Widow plucks characters and plot points that align with its story and adjusts them accordingly. The film even borrows and improves on a memorable moment in 2004’s Black Widow: Homecoming series, when Natasha breaks her nose:

It remains to be seen what will happen to Natasha’s adopted family and Taskmaster. At the very least, it seems like Melina and the other Widows will help free the rest of their kind across the world by using the mind-control counteragent. But beyond that, there’s now an army of spies with no clear purpose or allegiance. We might have to wait for the film’s likely sequel to find out their futures in the MCU, though it’s always possible that they’ll start popping up in other movies or Disney+ series as heroes or villains for hire. As for Taskmaster, I’m sure Valentina would be open to auditions.

Black Widow is a bittersweet goodbye to the MCU’s first female superhero. On the one hand, the film provides closure for a character with a troubled yet unexplored past. We’d heard that Natasha had “red in her ledger” as early as The Avengers, and yet we never knew what that was referring to. Black Widow finally gives some clarity on Natasha’s elusive past, and provides her with a story line that finds her making up for some of her previous transgressions; she makes amends with her adopted family, learns that she never killed Dreykov’s daughter and helps save her thereafter, and puts an end to the child-trafficking operation and abusive training program that is the Red Room.

But Black Widow also fails to provide Natasha with the type of send-off that her contemporaries received in Endgame—though that likely isn’t the fault of anyone directly involved in the making of Black Widow as much as it is due to it being tethered to the MCU’s greater agenda. Natasha’s death takes place seven years after the events of Black Widow, and ultimately has nothing to do with the story this film is telling. But while Tony Stark received a prolonged death scene and a funeral, and Steve Rogers traveled back in time to spend his life with his long-lost love in the final moments of Endgame, our last look at Natasha in Black Widow features her heading off to spring the other Avengers from a super prison following their capture in Captain America: Civil War. The only real acknowledgment of her death comes in the post-credits scene.

In the end, Black Widow still has more than its fair share of highlights and memorable moments as it ushers in a new star to fill in for Johansson in the years to come. It took embarrassingly long to reach the milestone to truly give Marvel any credit, but the film also became the first to feature a solo female director at the helm (Cate Shortland), hopefully setting a new standard for Marvel Studios. Natasha’s grand finale isn’t a proper origin story, nor is it a true hero’s farewell. It’s more of a one-shot comic, existing in tandem with the rest of the MCU’s stories to preserve the sanctity of its main timeline. Though it may not have ultimately given Nat the ending she deserved, Black Widow was an ending nonetheless—and one that proved that a movie like this should’ve been made long ago. After years of waiting for a chance to get the spotlight all to herself, at least it finally happened.

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Read full article at The Indian Express

Johansson perfects “Black Widow”

Texas A&M The Battalion 14 July, 2021 - 08:00pm

Black Widow was released in theaters and on Disney+ on July 9. 

Black Widow was released in theaters and on Disney+ on July 9. 

As the 24th Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU, film, “Black Widow” was released July 9 after its original plan of release was soiled by the COVID-19 pandemic and postponed from May 1, 2020. This long-awaited film starring Scarlett Johansson introduces a new storyline and dives straight into Natasha Romanoff’s background, anticipated since references in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Directed by Cate Shortland, “Black Widow” is now available to watch in theaters and streaming on Disney Plus with premier access.

The Marvel Universe is a massive combination of storylines, but the origin story they have yet to explore is Romanoff’s. As the only original female Avenger with no artificial superpowers, the spotlight on Romanoff has been long overdue. After “Avengers: Endgame,” seeing Johansson’s character on the big screen is bittersweet for Marvel fans but lifts spirits through its humor and familial aspects.

“Black Widow” explores a relationship dynamic fans are not used to seeing. Throughout Marvel, there are romantic relationships, best friends and the notorious brother bond of Loki and Thor, but “Black Widow” brings sisterhood into the mix. This film is full of hilarious remarks, but those that stand out involve the relationship Romanoff has with her “sister,” Yelena Belova, played by Florence Pugh.

Since the two characters are highly trained assassins, their physical dynamic is thrilling to watch, just as their entertaining dialogue leads the film. The characters have hysterical conversations related to wardrobe and other topics that are just a bit funnier to those that have firsthand experience of a sister bond. There is a humorous scene dedicated to a dark green and black vest filled with pockets that is part of Belova’s wardrobe that first appears in “Avengers: Infinity War,” filmed a couple of years before “Black Widow.” With this, Marvel continues their complexity through small details.

David Harbour’s character, Alexei Shostakov, also known as the Red Guardian, is dedicated to the laugh. Throughout the film, Shostakov brings humor through dialogue and physical actions. Harbour has made a name for himself, specifically in the Netflix original series “Stranger Things,”and gives a fantastic acting performance in “Black Widow,” almost as if the part was made for him. Rachel Weisz also does a tremendous job playing Melina Vostokoff and portraying the mother figure in the dysfunctional family. Their family is twisted, but these actors work well together onscreen, making the dynamic between their characters exciting to watch. Marvel is masterful when it comes to integrating characters from different storylines into new shows or movies.

It is no surprise this film fits right into the ultimate Marvel storyline, but it also captures a darker side of the MCU that hasn’t been seen before. Romanoff was trained as an assassin in the infamous Red Room, mysteriously located in Russia, and the theme of the film is perfect, but the intro credits grasp and introduce corruption in a new way that doesn’t exactly feel like the MCU. The intro credits tell a story transitioning from the beginning of the film that shows Romanoff as a child, to a flashback to the period after “Captain America: Civil War,” but feels like it is not necessarily geared toward the typical Marvel demographic.

There are plenty of “woah” moments throughout the film, especially in the well-balanced assassin action scenes, but the music is hit-or-miss. Sometimes the music perfectly fits the scene, but in others, it feels slightly off, specifically in the intro credits.

The post-credit scene is a tear-jerker but makes the moments in the film between Romanoff and Belova that much sweeter. After ten years as Black Widow, Johansson has perfected her character.

Katen Adams is a journalism senior and film critic for The Battalion.

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Black Widow – 5 Characters and Where To Start Reading About Them

GLITCHED 13 July, 2021 - 03:30am

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, 2021 has truly been Marvel’s time to shine. First, we got WandaVision, a charming look into two beloved members of the Avengers – followed by Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which gave us our first look at some lesser-known versions of Captain America. Straight into Loki, which is quite frankly a masterpiece and now, we have Black Widow.

If I had to pick just one cinematic highlight of my year so far, it would be Black Widow. It was one of the most fun and impactful “solo” stories to come out of the MCU so far, and I found myself enjoying every second of it. Black Widow has always been a bit of an enigma in Marvel movies. We’ve known of her but not really known anything about her, which is why it was so great to get to learn more about who she is, her past and her family – even if it couldn’t be more different from the comics.

This article is for those of you who watched Black Widow, loved it, but found yourselves wanting to know more about the characters, their origins and where would be the best place to jump into the comics. So without further ado, here are 5 characters from Black Widow explained:

Natasha Romanova A.K.A Black Widow has had many different origin stories and romantic entanglements over the years. Natasha was first introduced to us as a Russian spy who was the antagonist of Iron Man. Natasha was the first and most well known “Black Widow”. She was initially outfitted with a bunch of high-tech weaponry to complement her martial arts, including a pair of wrist-mounted weapons known as her “Widow’s Bite”. In one of her origins, we learn that she was raised by Ivan Petrovich, who was given custody of Natasha as a baby by a woman who died immediately afterwards. He raised Natasha as his own, and she would eventually train as a Soviet spy.

In another story, Natasha is raised by the U.S.S.R.’s “Black Widow Ops” program. In this version, Ivan Petrovitch was the one who took her to Department X, where she, along with other female orphans, were brainwashed and trained in espionage in the “Red Room”. There Natasha is biotechnologically enhanced, explaining her usually long lifespan and youthful appearance. While still with the K.G.B., Natasha gets into an arranged marriage with Alexei Shostakov. However, when the Soviet government decided to turn Alexei into “The Red Guardian”, they cut off all communication between the two and Natasha is told that he died.

Best Comic to read: Black Widow: The Finely Woven Thread

Yelena Belova A.K.A Black Widow is the second character to use the “Black Widow” mantle. Yelena was trained as a spy and an assassin in the Red Room and was originally a notable foe of Natasha Romanova (Black Widow) being sent to kill her. Yelena has been a member of S.H.I.E.L.D., Vanguard and HYDRA, which later turned her into a Super-Adaptoid. As Super-Adaptoid, she served as one of the high council members of A.I.M.

Believing herself to be the rightful “Black Widow”, Yelena volunteers for a mission that puts her at odds with Natasha. However, once they meet, they start to bond, and Yelena eventually retires to Cuba, where she becomes a successful businesswoman and model. This peace doesn’t last because Yelena gets lured back in by S.H.I.E.L.D. only to be attacked and barely survive. She sustained severe burns during the attack and is approached by HYDRA to join them on a revenge mission against S.H.I.E.L.D, there they end up transferring her mind into a new body, and she becomes known as “Super-Adaptoid”. As Super-Adaptoid, she has the ability to copy all the New Avengers powers.

Best Comic to read: Black Widow: The Itsy-Bitsy Spider

The Red Guardian is a name that’s been held by several different superheroes through the years, with the first being Alexei Shostakov. Alexei was one of the Soviet Union’s best pilots. Because of his skill, he was chosen for all the most secret and dangerous tests for the Soviet Union aircrafts. After getting married to Natasha Romanova (Black Widow), both Alexei and Natasha became Soviet agents. In the 1950s, the Soviet Premier realized that the Soviet Union would benefit from having their own equivalent to Captain America, and Alexei is chosen.

The KGB then fakes his death, and he is trained in secret. In addition to training, they also gave him a throwing disc on his belt that uses magnetic force to return the disc after it’s thrown. While Natasha eventually becomes disillusioned with the KGB, Alexei never does and instead remains loyal, becoming more ruthless and vindictive as the years pass. He ultimately battles the Avengers, and when Natasha notices something familiar about him, he reveals his identity to her before getting mortally wounded minutes later.

Best Comic to read: The Avengers: The Red Guardian

Not much is known about Melina Vostokoff A.K.A. Iron Maiden. What we do know is that Melina is a Russian supervillain and is most notably Black Widows nemesis. Originally hired to be an assassin for the Russian government, Melina eventually joined the Femizons and became one of Superia’s lieutenants. During Civil War, she is apprehended and coerced into joining the Thunderbolts before joining the Soviet Revolutionaries, Remont Six.

During her time in Remont Six, she ends up leading them in an attack on A.I.M. and ends up overpowering the Red Guardian. Iron Maiden is known for wearing a lightweight metal suit that protects her from impacts, bullets and energy weapons. Her suit also acts as an exoskeleton, enhancing her strength while wearing it.

Best Comic to read: Invincible Iron Man Vol. 1

Rick Mason A.K.A. The Agent is the son of Phineas Mason, a prolific weapons designer better known by his supervillain name, The Tinkerer. Rick grew up in New York, and because of having a supervillain for a dad, he grew up among countless known criminals and villains. Deciding on a different life path for himself, Rick became a mercenary for S.H.I.E.L.D. and was later hired by the British government to help stop China Force from overthrowing their rule in Hong Kong. He returned to S.H.I.E.L.D. as a freelance mercenary specializing in non-lethal metahuman handling and worked closely with Nick Fury.

Rick eventually gets taken hostage by the Corporation to try and get Ricks, dad, the Tinkerer, to work for them exclusively. While being held captive, Rick ends up meeting Luke Cage, and together they defeat the corporation and rick escapes. If you played Spider-Man: Miles Morales, you would recognize Rick as Phin Mason’s older brother and friend to Miles Morales.

Best Comic to read: Rick Mason, The Agent

In a world that’s filled almost to capacity with Superhero related TV Shows and Movies, Black Widow still manages to feel like a breath of fresh air. While the characters are definitely portrayed very differently than their comic book counterparts (looking at you Red Guardian A.K.A. Black Widows Husband/Father), they still worked incredibly well. They made for a movie that you could enjoy regardless of whether you read the comics or not. And now you have an excuse to read the comics and learn the true stories behind the characters.

If my list has convinced you to join me in my comic book addiction, remember to head over to Critters and Comics and start your own addiction… one of us… one of us…

Reviewer for GLITCHED | Comic addict | Gamerholic | Collector who never has enough money

Translation: I have the job that you always wanted & spend a LOT of time in PJs

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