Marvel Announces Black Widow Release Date, Casting At Comic-Con

She wasn't always a hero.

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Now Playing: Marvel Studios Comic-Con 2019 Panel Reactions | SDCC 2019

At the company's San Diego Comic-Con 2019 panel, Marvel Studios announced a heap of new details for its upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe projects--including the upcoming Black Widow movie. The character's first standalone movie releases on May 1, 2020, and is being directed by Cate Shortland. Thanks to the panel, we know a whole bunch more about the movie, as well.

The panel also revealed that the movie will include Yelena Belova, another Marvel character to take on the Black Widow mantel after Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff, played by Florence Pugh (Midsommar). During the panel, Pugh described Yelena as a "sister figure" to Natasha. David Harbour (Stranger Things) will play Alexi, the agent who trains Yelena, and Rachel Weisz will play Melina Vostokoff, also known as the supervillain Iron Maiden. O-T Fagbenle will also appear in the movie as Mason, a character with ties to Natasha's past.

"I don't think I could have played this iteration of Natasha 10 years ago, and now I get to play her as a fully realized woman, with all of her many facets," Johansson said during the panel. "I'm excited for fans to see the flawed side of her and I'm really looking to wipe out some of that red in my ledger."

Marvel also showed the first trailer for Black Widow during the panel, which was set in Budapest--an infamous location repeatedly referenced by both Black Widow and her close friend, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), in the Avengers movies. The trailer featured what was apparently a friendly fight scene between Natasha and Yelena, as well as a battle between Natasha and a mask-wearing villain who could be Iron Maiden, or another potential Black Widow baddie, Taskmaster.

Penned by Jac Schaeffer, who's also writing the story behind the upcoming Disney+ series about Vision and Scarlet Witch, Black Widow is a prequel story for the titular character. Before she was a hero and a member of the Avengers, Natasha Romanova was an agent of SHIELD. And before that, she was a Russian spy. We've only seen glimpses of Natasha's past in the MCU, with her connection to fellow SHIELD agent Clint Barton teased in Avengers, her time in the Red Room revealed in Avengers Age of Ultron, and her parentage teased in Avengers Endgame.

Although Marvel has not confirmed it will use the comics as inspiration for Natasha's backstory, we can use Black Widow's comic book history to perhaps provide a baseline of what to expect from her movie. In the comics, Natalia Alianovna "Natasha Romanoff" Romanova is trained at a young age in assassination and espionage in a covert Russian training program known as the Red Room (also responsible for training the Winter Soldier). Biotechnologically and psycho-technologically enhanced to have a longer lifespan and greater physical abilities than a normal human and given new memories to make her a more efficient weapon, Natasha is one of the world's deadliest spies. The connection she establishes with SHIELD agent Clint Barton, however, inspires her to turn over a new leaf, defect to the US, and begin using her talents to better mankind instead of ruining it.

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