Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Four Re-Watch. Black Widow

It’s been a year since I last did a rewatch, ending Phase Three with Spider-Man: No Way Home. Now that the Infinity Saga is over and Thanos has turned to dust, our surviving heroes have moved on… with various degrees of success. Phase Four incorporates both Cinematic releases and television programs. For the television programs, I am limiting each article to three episodes each

Title:  Black Widow

Characters created by:  Stan Lee, Don Rico, Don Heck, Devin Grayson, J.G. Jones, Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Ralph Macchio, George Pérez, Jack Kirby, Larry Lieber, James Hudnall, John Ridgway, and David Michelinie

Returning characters; Natasha Romanov, Secretary Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, Clint Barton (voice-over)

Director:   Cate Shortland 

Writer:    Eric Pearson

US Release Date:  July 9, 20211


Budget: $200 million

Box office:$379.6 million

Summary:  In 1995, super soldier Alexei Shostakov and Black Widow Melina Vostokoff work as Russian undercover agents, posing as a family in Ohio with Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova as their daughters. They steal S.H.I.E.L.D. intel and escape to Cuba where their boss, General Dreykov, has Romanoff and Belova taken to the Red Room for training. In the following decades, Shostakov is imprisoned in Russia while Romanoff and Belova become successful, dangerous assassins. Romanoff eventually defects to S.H.I.E.L.D. after helping Clint Barton bomb Dreykov’s Budapest office, which apparently kills Dreykov and his young daughter Antonia.

In 2016, Romanoff is a fugitive for violating the Sokovia Accords. She escapes from U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross and flees to a safehouse in Norway supplied by Rick Mason. Meanwhile, Belova kills a rogue former Black Widow but comes in contact with a synthetic gas that neutralizes the Red Room’s chemical mind-control agent. Belova sends antidote vials to Romanoff, hoping she and the Avengers can free the other Widows, and goes into hiding.

When Romanoff is unknowingly driving with the vials in her car, Red Room agent Taskmaster attacks her. Romanoff escapes from Taskmaster and realizes that the vials came from Budapest. There she finds Belova, who reveals that Dreykov is alive and the Red Room is still active. Black Widows and Taskmaster attack them, but Romanoff and Belova evade them and meet with Mason, who supplies them with a helicopter.

Romanoff and Belova break Shostakov out of prison to learn Dreykov’s location, and he directs them to Vostokoff, who lives on a farm outside Saint Petersburg. There she is refining the chemical mind control process used on the Widows. Vostokoff alerts Dreykov and his agents arrive to take them, but Romanoff convinces Vostokoff to help them and the pair use face mask technology to switch places.

At the Red Room, an aerial facility, Vostokoff frees Shostakov and Belova from their restraints. Dreykov sees through Romanoff’s disguise and reveals that Taskmaster is Antonia, who suffered damage severe enough that Dreykov had to put technology in her head to save her, in turn creating the perfect soldier, capable of mimicking the actions of anyone she sees. Romanoff is unable to attack Dreykov due to a pheromone lock installed in every Widow, but negates that by breaking her own nose and severing a nerve in her nasal passage. Shostakov battles Taskmaster while Vostokoff takes out one of the facility’s engines. They then lock Taskmaster in a cell.

Dreykov escapes as other Black Widows attack Romanoff, but Belova exposes them to the antidote. Romanoff copies the locations of other Widows worldwide from Dreykov’s computer as the facility begins to explode and fall. She retrieves two surviving antidote vials and frees Taskmaster from the locked cell. Vostokoff and Shostakov escape via a plane while Belova takes out Dreykov’s aircraft, killing him. In freefall, Romanoff gives Belova a parachute before battling Taskmaster.

After landing, Romanoff uses one antidote vial on Taskmaster and gives the other to Belova along with the locations of the other mind-controlled Widows so she can find and free them. Belova, Vostokoff, and Shostakov say goodbye to Romanoff and leave with Antonia and the freed Widows. Two weeks later, Mason supplies Romanoff with a Quinjet to use in freeing the imprisoned Avengers.

In a post-credits scene set after Romanoff’s death, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine blames her death on Barton and assigns him as Belova’s next target.


MCU connections: The film takes place during the events of Captain America: Civil War. The majority of the film takes place after Natasha is informed that T’Challa had informed Ross of her actions during the airport fight. Ross mentions that she is wanted for assaulting the King of Wakanda and that both Burton and Lang were in custody. At the end of the film it is implied that she assists Rogers in releasing Wilson and Maximoff from the Raft at the end of the film. It can be assumed that the Quinjet acquired from Mason is the same one used in Avengers: Infinity War and not the one that Rogers and Barnes stole from Leipzig. At the end of the film, Natasha has blond hair as she does in Avengers: Infinity War.

In The Avengers, Loki taunts Natasha with her past crimes including “the General’s daughter.” In the same film, Natasha and Barton discuss Budapest. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as Natasha is about to reveal Hydra’s secret files, Pierce tells her that the events of Budapest would be revealed to the world.

Easter Eggs: In prison, Alexei arm-wrestles a giant prisoner named Ursa. In the comics, Ursa Major is a fellow Russian hero who has the ability to turn into a bear. Alexei references this by calling him a bear. Yelena mistakenly calls Alexei “Crimson Dynamo” rather than Red Guardian.

Changes from the comics:In the comics Melina is a supervillain called Iron Madien. The Taskmaster is not the General’s daughter but is named Anthony “Tony” Masters. He is usually depicted as a mercenary hired by numerous criminal organizations to act as a training instructor. He has the same powers depicted in the film.

My Take:  Belle is of the very strong opinion that this film should have been set (and released) after Captain America: The Winter Soldier as it is the logical place for a solo story, and it is an opinion that I agree with.

We are seeing a number of “legacy” heroes in Phase Four. We have a new Captain America and now a new Black Widow. Hawkeye introduced Kate Bishop as the new Hawkeye, and we have been introduced to future heroes like tge Maximoff twins, Cassie Lang, and Eli Bradley. We will also see who will succeed T’Challa.

As I mentioned last week, if my theory that the film’s are leading up to the “Avengers Forever” storyline, then we might see Natasha again.

Next: What if…?