The supervillain search: Who should be the antagonist of Marvel's Black Widow solo?
Asides the women-centric creative board associated with the movie, so far the volume of information available about the Scarlett-led production is slim.
Back in 2010, when the third film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe - 'Iron Man 2' - released, superhero movie lovers were treated to the daunting character of the former Russian spy, Natasha Romanova. A highly-skilled assassin cum elite female sleeper agent, Romanoff who has since come to be better recognized amongst the Marvel fandoms as the formidable Black Widow, charting her way from Soviet Agency to KGB until her most recent position as a core member of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Portrayed in the MCU by actress Scarlett Johansson, Black Widow has a unique origin story and what makes her conduct even more appealing is the fact that she depends solely on her combat skills rather than some supernatural gift or ability. She is as human as it gets and yet, since her first cinematic appearance, there hasn't been a moment when Black Widow took the back seat.
Skills, story, sex appeal - all of these together makes this fan-favorite comic book character, a top choice for a standalone superhero movie. A demand for which hasn't just found a strong voice in the recent times but also an official nod from the Marvel bosses most recently. After much ado, the idea of a solo Black Widow Movie led by Johansson has finally been greenlit by the Disney-owned studios with Australian director Cate Shortland taking the director's chair.
Asides the women-centric creative board associated with the movie - the latest draft of the script was penned by Jac Schaeffer - so far the volume of information available about the production is slim. All we know is Johansson is all set to display her acting (and action) chops. As is the case with any superhero flick, to bring out the best (or worst) in her Black Widow, she would be needing a worthy antagonist.
Heads up to fans, followers of superhero stuff, and Marvel! We are jumping in on this search for a Black Widow supervillain early. After much scouting through the history of the character and a deep dive into its comic origins, here's our take on who deserves to serve as the chief villain for this much-anticipated Black Widow solo.
Yelena Belova aka Black Widow
Another post-Soviet Russian spy, Yelena Belova is the second character to have used the alias Black Widow and it's primarily because of her similar training under the very spymasters (Red Room) who trained Natasha Romanoff. After Natasha went rogue, pledging her loyalty to the Americans, Yelena was assigned to assume the spot and carry on with the investigations, eliminating her enemies and taking over the Black Widow mantle in the process.
What Yelena didn't realize was that she was being trained to become the new Black Widow for the Russian spies - a feat. that lands her ultimately in crossfires between the Soviet agencies and Natasha. In the comics, these two fierce and outrageously attractive women have frequently locked horns and considering how there are chances of the Black Widow movie turning out to be a prequel - Yelena could be just the right fodder to bring out the shades of the protagonist.
Taskmaster or Tony Masters
First appearing in The Avengers vol. 1 #195, Tony Masters is easily one of the most mysterious characters to have been introduced in Marvel comics. David Michelinie and George Pérez's masterful creation not only renders Taskmaster as an all-powerful entity but also a force to reckon with.
As far as his abilities are concerned, he is capable of absorbing knowledge and replicating the combat skills of anyone he has witnessed. While one would argue that these gifts sound more superhero-like, it's how Taskmaster uses his genius that makes him a formidable enemy. Acting as an instructor, he has trained many a supervillain and henchmen - thus treading lightly on the lines between a hero and an anti-hero. Even with his arms chained, he is known to have defeated Natasha - making him the second pick for the Black Widow supervillain.
Created by Frank Miller, the character of Elektra is a complication in itself. First off, her very leaning is towards the violent and secondly, she is beyond skilled as an assassin of Greek descent (wielding a pair of bladed sai as her signature weapons in most comics). Ironically, this tremendous character occupies a special position in the heart of a certain Marvel superhero, Daredevil. Despite being the love interest, though, Elektra's volatile tendencies and mercenary lifestyle put her at odds with the Black Widow, making her an interesting foil to the not-so-perfect Natasha.
If you are still not convinced why an Elektra-Black Widow duel is much needed, just watch this video, where the stunt artists for the respective characters - Lauren Mary Kim (for actress Elodie Yung's Elektra) and Amy Johnston (Johansson's double as Black Widow) - engage in an outright savage face-off.
An accomplished spy, mercenary, and blackmailer - Danny French has a lot in common with the Russian-spy-turned-Avenger Black Widow. Both of them are incredibly skilled when it comes to hand-to-hand combat (with Danny having an edge with weapons as well) and their training is just the tip of the familiarity iceberg. The pair used to be lovers at some point of their comics development. Although ideological differences led to the two parting their ways, a certain Project 4 is known to have brought them together again, only to lock horns like never before.
"Project: 4", described by Marvel Wikia as "a powerful energy sphere of unknown composition" capable of sending earthquake tremors through the earth, is a dangerous tool in Danny's hands - perhaps a plot point that Black Widow solo could explore at length.
Bucky Barnes' involvement in a Black Widow movie is a no-brainer (but a really, really interesting choice). Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, as part of a mission to tie up the loose ends, the Winter Soldier is known to have been on a hunt for the Widow - a spy whose leanings were kept under the wraps owing to the nature of her work. Eventually, the two would famously pair up to work for the same side, the Avengers, but that doesn't do away from the fact that there is a past, a complicated history between the two.
What's better? Marvel star Sebastian Stan himself is interested to antagonize in the Black Widow solo.
Stan said, “They have a very nice history, in my opinion. It’s very intricate … The truth is, he actually taught her in the comic books. He was a teacher to her. It’s all set during a specific, interesting time. The Cold War. It’s all a very … spy, thriller-ish, noir-ish story. It would be very interesting to explore that on film. I would love if they do that. You know, I hope. Maybe they will.”
We hope so too.