Black Widow in Captain America Civil War

With Captain America: Civil War in theaters this weekend, Marvel is deep in the middle of another press tour — which means it’s time for more questions about that Black Widow movie they keep not making, which means it’s time for more hopefully somedays and that would be greats and we would love tos. But this time around, Kevin Feige‘s answers sound just a little bit more promising.

The Marvel Studios president has said Marvel is “committing” to a Black Widow solo movie, and that he thinks it’d be “fun” to launch a standalone franchise built around the super-spy Avenger. Which, before you get too excited, is nowhere close to an official announcement. But it might be a small step in the right direction. 

Deadline recently sat down with Feige to ask about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

You’ve got a bunch of characters in this movie from Falcon and War Machine and Black Widow and Hawkeye, who have so far guest starred in movies with another characters title above the fold. Is there one destined to get a solo movie down the line?

We’ve announced the next nine movies, ten counting Civil War, through the end of 2019. Where we go beyond that are ongoing discussions that we’ll focus on in the next few years because we have a lot to do before then. Of the characters that you’ve just mentioned I would say certainly the one creatively and emotionally that we are most committing to doing is Black Widow.

Why?

We think she’s an amazing character. We think Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of her is amazing. She’s a lead Avenger and has amazing stories in her own right to tell that we think would be fun to turn into a standalone franchise.

Black Widow seems like an obvious choice to lead her own solo film. She’s been an integral part of the franchise since Phase One, and she’s proven immensely popular with fans. Johansson’s certainly got the star power to carry her own action film; just look at the box office receipts for Lucy. Civil War directors Joe and Anthony Russo have called a Black Widow movie “a no-brainer,” and said they’d “love” to make one — and if they’re busy, Marvel could always enlist the services of Neil Marshall, who’s expressed interest in the past. Indeed, the lack of a Black Widow movie is so perplexing that even Saturday Night Live has called them on it.

For the past several years, Feige has alternated between reassurances that a Black Widow movie is still in development at the studio, and excuses about why they aren’t making one. This might just be more of the same. Moreover, even if she is getting a solo film, it sounds like it won’t be anytime soon. As Feige says, they’ve got their slate all planned out through 2019, so the earliest we’ll get a Black Widow movie is 2020. At that point, Johansson will have been playing the character for a decade, through about half a dozen roles. (Civil War is her fifth time playing Black Widow, and she’s expected to return for at least one of the Infinity War films.)

Still, this is slightly stronger language than Feige has used in the past. And more significantly, Feige wields more decision-making power than he used to. Once the dust settled on Marvel’s corporate restructuring last year, reports circulated that Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter had been to blame for Marvel’s reluctance to introduce and promote female superheroes. Now, however, Feige no longer needs Perlmutter to sign off. Personally, I’m still of the mindset that I’ll believe a Black Widow movie when I see one, just because we’ve heard this kind of talk so many times before with little to show for it so far. But if Feige really means to make one, now’s his chance to pull the trigger.

In the meantime, Marvel is finally getting ready to introduce its first leading superheroines on the big screen. Ant-Man and the Wasp, starring Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, arrives on July 6, 2018, and Captain Marvel opens March 8, 2019 (though Captain Marvel herself seems poised to debut in Avengers: Infinity War, opening May 4, 2018). And you can see Black Widow in all her ass-kicking glory in Captain America: Civil War, out in theaters this weekend.

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