Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow will be more serious than other MCU films. Marvel Studios is kicking off its Phase 4 with the long-overdue standalone focused on Natasha Romanoff. Directed by Cate Shortland, the movie takes place in the two years between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War to work around the character's tragic death in Avengers: Endgame.
Black Widow will be a more personal story as it deals with Nat's previous life before she becomes a SHIELD operative, and then eventually an Avenger. Introducing the public to new characters who played a pivotal role in the character's past life as a Russian spy, fans will learn more about her supposed first family composed of David Harbour's Alexei Shostakov, aka Red Guardian, Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff. They'll team up against the mysterious villain only known as Taskmaster whose real identity is still tightly under wraps.
Other specific plot details for Black Widow are still shrouded in secrecy, but Shortland reveals in a new feature with Total Film (via Games Radar) that the film will be more serious than previous MCU films. According to the director, this was born out of Natasha's lack of superpowers, and so throughout her life, she had to lean on pure grit and determination which will be fully highlighted in the project:
“She’s the only character that doesn’t have superpowers. We saw that as a strength, because she always has to dig really deep to get out of shit situations. And we just put her in a lot of hard situations. I thought about women walking to the train station being attacked, and what happens.
Natasha’s like [Jodie Foster’s Clarice] from The Silence Of The Lambs. It’s great, because when she holds her gun, it shakes. But she’s still really tough inside, and resilient. And I wanted to bring that to the character. So you’re not just watching her fly through situations, knowing she’ll get out of it. You want to see her grit and determination. And that’s what we got.”
Aside from that, Black Widow will also deal with the Time's Up and Me Too movements, which both tackle the systemic abuse of women in all forms. 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron teased Natasha's horrific experience being trained in the Red Room, includiung her undergoing a forced hysterectomy. Since then, it was never tackled again in the MCU, but with the new film directly dealing with the Black Widow Program, it could further reveal not only Nat's suffering, but also Yelena and Melina, who also came from the same training academy.
Based on Shortland's latest comments, Black Widow will lean more on Natasha's humanity, potentially making a case about this being her "superpower." The film can effectively frame this by showing just how much she's gone through all her life even before she joined the Avengers. It could also explain why the decimation in Infinity War that led to the death of some of her closest allies whom she treated as second family hit her very hard. Finally, the movie could provide a justification for her controversial Endgame death. As with every Marvel film, there will more likely be humor in Black Widow as revealed in trailers; what will make it more serious is the idea that it tackles timely issues that need to be delicately dealt with given its real-world implications.