A Web of Intrigue: A BLACK WIDOW Solo Movie…?

Posted: April 24, 2014 in COMICS, FILM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Black_Widow_Natasha_Romanova_2

A Black Widow solo movie is still something apparently being discussed at Marvel HQ. “It’s something we talk about all the time,” Scarlett Johanssen has said, during an interview with IGN.
The Scarlet Johanssen version of the character first appeared in Iron Man 2 and features heavily in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, currently in cinemas.

Given Johanssen’s star power, a Black Widow movie would seem like a viable commercial idea for the Marvel film studio and something likely to see the green light in the next couple of years, particularly given that the groundwork has already been somewhat laid in three films already.

Although I’m not massively sold on Johanssen as Natasha Romanov, a Black Widow movie could be an interesting idea… IF it’s done in a very specific way.

In my opinion, any potential Black Widow movie should be done as something highly stylised; something more in a film-noire vein with a thirties-style espionage undertone rather than a big-explosions CGI-fest, which certainly isn’t needed anymore.

Something that was more of a prequel to the current big-screen character, set in the Cold War era and charting the Black Widow’s past, would be far more interesting than a Black Widow film set in the same time-frame as the current Avengers movies. A prequel-type story would center on exploring the character’s past as a villain first and charting her journey to becoming “one of the good guys”.

Marvel Fanfare cover-Blackwidow

Web of Intrigue, as seen in Marvel Fanfare #10-13 would be a place to start looking for ideas, as it was back in this title that the Black Widow really began to develop life as a proper character.

The film talk also makes me think Black Widow would be perfect to come into Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D TV show, given Natasha Romanov’s fictional associations with the organisation. I doubt Scarlett Johanssen would make a TV appearance, however Samuel L. Jackson did, so you never know.

Meanwhile the new(ish) Black Widow solo title at Marvel NOW occurs within the company’s broader new framework of female-heavy titles, teams and stories, and may give the long-established Natasha Romanov character a renewed scope for development and for acquisition of new fans.

Despite her long history and canon, Black Widow is one of those who has never quite become the great character she has often been on the verge of becoming. And with the screen version of the character featuring prominently in the Avengers big-screen presence and the new Captain America movie, it may draw interest from a new fanbase towards her exploits on the printed page.

Black Widow #1 by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto could be commencing a golden age for the character, if that proves to be the case. I’ve never had particularly strong feelings about Black Widow; my first exposure to her character was reading the main Avengers title in the early nineties when she was in charge of the team, particularly through the ‘Gatherers’ storyline than ran up to Avengers #375 – that was a great story, but in general Black Widow was peripheral and the character made no real impression on me.

Blackwidow03

She has often seemed more interesting in terms of her dynamics with other characters over the years – Daredevil, Hawkeye, Captain America – than as a character in her own right. But the Widow has had much better spotlights in various eras and reinventions and the potential has always been there for her to evolve into a genuinely interesting character.

Two short-lived solo runs – Black Widow Vol 2 (2004-2005) and Black Widow Vol 4 (2010-2011) – didn’t add a great deal to the character’s stature, though may have offered some scattered delights to devoted fans of the character and may also have served to effectively rebrand the character more towards the Black Widow as we perceive her today.

“Name of the Rose” co-written by Ralph Macchio and George Perez was a good old-fashioned round-the-globe race against time to prevent the assassination of Nick Fury and features an awesome double-page spread on the Widow’s history; but probably not the basis for a feature-film.

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In screenplay terms, Richard K. Morgan’s stylish noir tale Homecoming from the 2004 run (Black Widow #1-6) may possibly provide a good mix of both style and story that could translate well to film. While Captain America and Black Widow Vol 1 (2012-2013), written by Cullen Bunn, is an interesting visual spectacle, more for style, even if it doesn’t move the earth story-wise.

Meanwhile Black Widow – Deadly Origin #1-4 was a fairly recent endeavor to clarify Natasha Romanov’s origin story and reintroduce the Black Widow to a newer, younger readership. The series was largely judged to have been only a mild success in that regard and relied on flashback sequences to tell the story at the expense of a better present-tense narrative.

The Black Widow origin story has been told several times over the years; I’m actually not entirely sure what the definitive version is.

Any potential film-making team looking to translate the Widow more fully into a big-screen entity will have to consult several disparate sources in Marvel comic book canon in order to extract the best possible screen version of a back-story. Essential reading would include all the titles mentioned above, but also Marvel Fanfare #10-13, Tales of Suspense #53 from 1964, Daredevil #81 and #88 from 1972, as well as #124 from 1975. And Daredevil #187-190 from 1982-1983.

It’s a lot of homework, but the Black Widow is one of those characters with a mixed, scattered history with seeds sown in various areas, all of which would warrant being looked at. In general, while the prospect of a Black Widow feature film doesn’t particularly excite me, something with a strong emphasis on tone and style could be very interesting.

Cover to Daredevil #188 by Frank Miller|BLACK WIDOW|Daredevil|daredevilsd

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