With all of Black Widow‘s potential delays and brief teases, it is possible to forget that it is also a family drama.
As director Cate Shortland told Total Film (via Games Radar), that thematic note was “puzzling” to her when she first talked with Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige about taking on the project. Set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, the film sees Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) flee the US for the former Soviet Bloc. Once there, she reunites with her “sister” Yelena (Florence Pugh), breaks her “father” Alexei (David Harbor) — aka Red Guardian — out of a prison, and has yet one more reunion with “mother” Melina (Rachel Weisz). All are, of course, spies trained by the Soviet Red Room program, but function as something of a family.
“I realized, by the end, that Kevin and I had similar visions,” Shortland said. “What I really wanted to do was to expose the character and get under her skin. The family created the dynamic with which that would happen. We see a different side of the character, because she’s in scenes with people that know her from when she was a child. She’s not a superhero in those scenes; she’s a daughter or a sister.”
That change in perspective should make Black Widow different from other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe even as it serves as the overture to the MCU’s Phase 5 series of movies. Of course, it remains to be seen how a film set six or seven years in the MCU past will tie into that brief glimpse of Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) space fleet, but anything from Yelena becoming part of his team to Nat emerging from the Soul Stone is possible.
The new issue of Total Film arrives September 18th. Black Widow is currently set for release on November 6th.