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Black Widow: everything we know about Scarlett Johansson’s Avengers: Endgame spin-off

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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The latest Black Widow trailer cements Florence Pugh’s status as your new favourite female superhero. Here’s what to expect from the highly-anticipated film.

It’s been a decade since Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, also known as Natasha Romanoff, entered the Marvel universe in 2010’s Iron Man 2, and she’s been a key part of several superhero movies since then, more than proving her mettle.

Finally, she is getting her own superhero movie.

While details about Black Widow remain scarce, the last two trailers indicates the highly-anticipated film might delve into Johansson’s superhero backstory. “You don’t know everything about me,” Natasha says at one point in the clip. “The Avengers weren’t my first family.”

In fact, she had a whole life before she joined the world-saving crew, and that includes a home in Russia with her sister, played by Florence Pugh, and her parents, played by Rachel Weisz and David Harbour. 

Here’s everything we know about Black Widow.

What can we learn from the latest Black Widow trailer? 

It is clear that Black Widow will give us an insight into Natasha’s past, long before she came to the US and joined the Avengers. The final trailer for the film, which is slated for release on 1 May, shows Natasha reconnecting with her long lost sister Yelena (Pugh), who encourages her to help free the other Black Widows currently being indoctrinated into a brainwashed life of assassination back in Russia. 

“How many are there?” Natasha asks Yelena.

“Enough,” she responds. 

Who does Florence Pugh play in Black Widow

Florence Pugh
Florence Pugh

PREVIOUSLY REPORTED IN MARCH 2019: Did you see Florence Pugh in Fighting With My Family? The British actor was a revelation, fierce and funny and full of heart as Paige, a girl from Norwich who dreamt of becoming a WWE wrestler. This was a movie that contained charisma magnets Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, as himself, and Nick Frost and Lena Headey, who played Paige’s deliciously amoral parents, but it was Pugh who shined. I walked out of the cinema dreaming of a superhero movie starring Pugh that might give her the chance to quite literally flex her muscles.

Is Marvel’s president Kevin Feige infiltrating my dreams, Christopher Nolan’s Inception-style? Because The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Pugh is signing on to star in Scarlett Johansson’s standalone Black Widow movie as Yelena Belova, Natasha’s sister.

For too long, Johansson’s Black Widow was the one woman holding down the fort among the Avengers, but in recent years this has shifted. They have added key female characters, like Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Guardians Of The Galaxy’s Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Black Panther’s Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). 

Black Widow: Scarlett Johansson stars alongside Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz in new film.

If you are yet to join the Pugh-hive, as I definitely have, here’s a brief bio. The 23-year-old from Oxford is one of the most exciting young actors of the moment, after receiving rave reviews for her performance in 2016’s Lady Macbeth.

Since then, she has been the best thing about almost everything she has starred in, from the gritty Robert the Bruce Netflix biopic Outlaw King opposite, in my opinion, the Best Hollywood Chris (Pine) to the BBC’s The Little Drummer Girl, in which she played a double, or maybe triple, agent of espionage in the 70s.

Last year, she starred as a revisionist Amy March in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, a performance that earned her an Oscar nomination. Prestige literary adaptations, cult horror flicks, gritty period dramas, feel-good sporting movies and, now a superhero story? Is there anything Pugh can’t do?

Who is Rachel Weisz playing in Black Widow?

Rachel Weisz

Rachel Weisz will be in Black Widow

The actor is joining Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow standalone film, Variety reports. She will join Johansson in a role yet to be announced, and will star alongside previously announced castmember Pugh and Stranger ThingsDavid Harbour

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The news comes fresh from Weisz’s Oscar nomination (and BAFTA win) for her turn in The Favourite

We already know Weisz is a major, awards-nominated acting talent, but we also know that she can handle herself in the fight sequences. She proved as much in The Mummy Returns, the 2001 swashbuckling archaeological adventure flick and as good an advertisement for having a female Indiana Jones as there ever could be. 

Weisz, who does double duty in that movie as archaeologist Evelyn and her distant Ancient Egyptian ancestor Nefertiri, trained seven hours a day for two months to prepare for her breathtaking fight sequences against co-star Patricia Velasquez. In those scenes, Weisz and Velasquez only used body doubles for the trickier acrobatic moves. Otherwise, it was all them.

In Black Widow, Weisz will be putting those skills to the test as Melina Vostokoff, a character known in the original Marvel comics as Iron Maiden. 

“[Marvel has] put at the forefront female – strong, powerful, female – characters … and my character, Melina, too, is a pretty tough chick,” Weisz teased at the Comic Con panel for the film in 2019. 

What is Black Widow about?

In 2014 Marvel announced that a Black Widow movie was coming, and though plot details are pretty slim on the ground, we know that it will take place in Russia. Whether or not it will be an origins story is yet to be revealed, but we do know that Natasha was trained to be a super-assassin behind the Iron Curtain, training that left her physically and emotionally scarred.

Chris Evans as Captain America and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow.

She only escaped the Soviet Union when Clint Barton (our man Hawkeye with the bow and arrow) was sent to assassinate her. The two formed a bond and teamed up together, which is how Natasha ended up becoming an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. We don’t know whether or not Black Widow will tell the story of young Natasha in Russia or will see the agent returning to her mother country after the events of Avengers: Age Of Ultron unfold. All we know is that the movie will take place in Russia and that it will reunite Romanoff with her estranged family. 

Who is in the cast of Black Widow?

Johansson, obviously, will reprise her role as the martial arts master Natasha. Pugh is set to join as an unnamed character who will serve as the female co-lead. Her character is described by The Hollywood Reporter as “a spy on the same level” as Natasha, and “her moral opposite”. 

Captain America could be making the ultimate sacrifice

Aside from Johansson, Pugh, Weisz and Harbour, the rest of the cast is yet to be announced. So in lieu of any further information, let me share with you the best casting tidbit from these movies: Black Widow was originally supposed to be played by Emily Blunt. 

Marvel announced Blunt for the role and everything, before switching to Scarlett Johansson at the last minute. The rest, as they say, is Marvel cinematic universe history. 

Who is the director of Black Widow?

Australian director Cate Shortland will be behind the camera on the Black Widow movie. She comes to the film after a string of tense psychological thrillers, from the Abbie Cornish-starring Somersault to Berlin Syndrome, a movie about a passionate holiday romance that turns abusive. 

Female screenwriter Jac Schaeffer, who wrote the Rebel Wilson/Anne Hathaway action movie The Hustle, has written the script. Filming began in London in June 2019. 

When is Black Widow released?

Black Widow will premiere in cinemas on 1 May.

Images: Getty, Marvel

This article was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated throughout.

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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