There are few screw-ups Marvel has done since the rollout of its cinematic universe. Most can be seen on the TV side despite the recent success of its shows on Disney+. Aside from Inhumans, TV could have done so much more from the studio's deal with Netflix that saw some of the streamer's most popular shows in the Defenders universe come to premature ends and all too brief runs from The Runaways, Cloak & Dagger, and Agent Carter. I would even argue the protectiveness of their biggest heroes sabotaged the potential the ABC series Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. could have been. This brings me to the subject at hand Black Widow, the first MCU-pandemic theatrical release of Phase IV, which is no matter how anyone spins the release, too little too late for the character.
Scarlett Johansson has played the title character aka Natasha Romanoff since the character's debut in 2010's Iron Man 2. Six MCU films later, the star made her official swan song to the character in Black Widow despite "dying" in Avengers: Endgame in 2019. There were several routes Marvel could have done with the character in all that time they failed to do. Let's explore that, shall we?
First, it's clear with the success of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and spy franchises like Mission: Impossible and Bourne, Marvel could have launched their own films and/or TV shows that could have expanded on the S.H.I.E.L.D. lore especially when you looked at the success of the Captain America films. Hell, even when they finally reintroduced a character like Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna) on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I don't see how they couldn't have had an arc with Romanoff and/or Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). I suppose if ScarJo is done with the role, Black Widow could always be recast with another actor if they're ever going to revisit her again, but at this point from the way the direction of the MCU is going, it's moot and they'll focus on Florence Pugh's Yelena onward. In other words, the film is something that should have come out five years ago rather than in 2021.
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