Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a massive success. It made almost $100 million domestically this weekend, has pulled in over $300 million globally, and people love it; it’s got an 89% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and 95% from audiences. The movie is killing it on every possible level.
There was lots of great stuff in Winter Soldier. Captain America was super cool, Falcon was awesome, the Winter Soldier was like he just stepped out of the comics, and even Jenny Agutter got to bust up some bad guys as Councilwoman Hawley. But no one was cooler than the Black Widow. She was all over the place, taking down villains in so many ways. She’s got fantastic martial arts skills to start with, but she’s also got a grappling hook, electric shocks, various guns, a garrote, and the ability to make use of whatever else is lying around to beat the hell out of anyone who gets in her way.
Scarlett Johansson has gotten better with each Marvel movie, and she was pretty awesome to begin with way back in Iron Man 2. Of all the Avengers, only Black Widow and Hawkeye haven’t had their own movies yet, and Black Widow is the far more developed character. We’ve heard rumours of a Black Widow movie for a while, but nothing concrete yet, and the rumblings for other characters have been much louder. Ant-Man is already on the schedule, and Dr. Strange has been getting a ton of buzz (and SPOILER even a brief shout out in Winter Soldier) but not every Marvel movie needs to have a white guy lead. A Black Widow movie is not only a very sensible next step for the franchise, but it’s long overdue and would be crazy good.
Let’s talk about the crazy good stuff first. Black Widow is a Russian assassin turned good guy, with a shady past. A Black Widow movie could go in several fun directions: it could have a Bond vibe, or a Bourne vibe, or go even darker than those franchises due to the opportunities her sketchy past provides. In the comics, Black Widow is the product of a covert Soviet superspy/assassin program, an orphan trained from a young age, but given that the movies haven’t delved into her past too much, they’re not locked into any specific version of this origin. There were also other Black Widows in the program in the comics, and Scarlett facing off against and/or teaming up with a bunch of other bad ass lady assassins would make for a heck of a film. Plus, no matter what direction they go with it, the action in a Black Widow movie can be totally out of control.
In terms of the sensible next step, look away if you haven’t seen Winter Soldier yet because we’re diving into SPOILER territory here. The movie ends with Nick Fury and Black Widow releasing all of SHIELD’s secret files, including everything about Black Widow’s history. The world now knows all of her secrets, so she’s perfectly poised to explore this past and tackle any new foes who come out of the woodwork. I think Marvel would be well served to do a prequel/sequel combo, exploring her past life via flashbacks while having her deal with a threat from this past in the present. Preferably a threat that has her traipsing all over the globe, taking down evildoers in classic and exotic locales. A fight atop the Eiffel Tower perhaps, or an epic chase through the jungle toward a Soviet base in Vietnam, or a rooftop battle on a snowy Moscow night.
The time is absolutely right for a Black Widow movie, and no other character is better poised to headline their own film. Also, it would just be awesome. She could kick all of the butts. All. The. Butts.