Home » How ‘Black Widow’ Sets Up More Exploration of the MCU’s Past

How ‘Black Widow’ Sets Up More Exploration of the MCU’s Past

by Jeremiah Monaghan
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff facing off against the Taskmaster as seen in the Marvel Studios film BLACK WIDOW.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an ever-expanding franchise, with two-dozen films and three Disney+ shows all in the span of only 13 years, coming together to tell one cohesive story. Despite the multitude of entries in the series, there are still certain aspects of the MCU which have been left unexplored. The current prime example being the full story of Natasha Romanoff, now finally being told in detail with Marvel’s Black Widow. Taking place right after Civil War and reaching decades back, the release of Black Widow sees the possibilities of exploring the MCU’s vague or untold history growing endless.

At the global press conference for Black Widow, the creatives behind the film had their own thoughts on possible stories to tell from the MCU’s past. When it came to further exploration of such events, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige had the following to say: “The notion of exploring the past, present, and future of the MCU is certainly in the cards for all of our characters.” However, Feige also acknowledged that the circumstances of Black Widow are much different than those of other characters, stating, “This particular story with this particular cast is very personal and very specific to Natasha.”

Even as a Natasha Romanoff-focused story, Black Widow certainly leaves the door open for more with its cast of characters, one of note being that of David Harbour’s Red Guardian. In the film, Harbour plays Alexei Shostakov, Russia’s own former super solider (think communist Captain America). Shostakov was active for years as the Red Guardian before being locked in prison, where he now shares tales of his epic adventures, which would certainly make for an interesting Disney+ series.

Natasha Romanoff and Yelena are reunited with David Harbour as the Red Guardian as seen in the Marvel Studios film BLACK WIDOW.
Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour, & Florence Pugh in ‘Black Widow’ courtesy of Disney

When asked about exploring Red Gaurdian’s past, Harbour said, “What’s funny about Alexei is you have this big 25-year gap that we don’t know about, right? We see him in Ohio and then we see him in the prison. Even before the prison, there was a time when he was the Red Guardian. He wants to put the suit back on. There is this period of time where he has all these stories about his life and what went on.”

Despite the grandiose nature of Alexei’s stories, it’s possible that they’re all entirely fictional given how his words don’t always align with the MCU timeline. When it came to whether or not Alexei’s stories were real, Harbour said that, “They are questionable, whether or not they’re real. I’d like the exploration of what is real and what isn’t real, and how hard he had to construct these realities for himself and how durable those realities are.”

One such prison story from the Red Guardian details an epic showdown between himself and Steve Rogers’ Captain America – which, of course, doesn’t exactly work with what is known of Steve’s past, but fans will surely give him the benefit of the doubt. When asked about getting to explore those two characters together, Harbour stated, “I do think the classic cold war thing is a really funny dynamic between these two guys, and the fact that they basically came up together as nuclear warheads in an arms race together. I think it’s just a really great concept that could be explored further.”

Harbour is even open to working with Marvel’s new Captain America, Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson, in a present-day story, saying, “I really love the Falcon character, and I love Anthony Mackie as an actor. And now that he’s wearing the Cap suit and with the amount of complexity that Alexei has with whoever wears the Cap suit… he hates that guy, and he hates what he represents. But also in the film, some of the funniest stuff to me is where he’s like ‘He was actually a colleague of mine, we had a lot of respect for each other’. I just think that dynamic would be really fun to see those guys have some stuff together.”

After Harbour’s great performance in Black Widow, seeing him in a future MCU project, whether it be an old story focused on his “battle” with Steve Rogers, or a meeting with the modern Captain America Sam Wilson, would be a great experience. As would getting to investigate any other unique backstory that has been left unknown or unexplored. Black Widow certainly makes a good case for taking a deeper look into the gray corners of the MCU, whether it be in a future film or on Disney+.

Black Widow hits theaters and Disney+ Premier Access July 9

Follow writer Jeremiah Monaghan on Twitter: @thespeedforces

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