As usual, Marvel Studios went all the way the hell out for their Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con, trotting out a pantheon of stars including cast members from their newly revealed slate that includes The Eternals, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. But first, audiences will get the long-awaited Black Widow standalone film and though filming only recently kicked off, Marvel brought out some footage for fans to see.
Director Cate Shortland, and cast members Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O.T. Fagbenle, and Rachel Weisz took the stage, teasing a film that would offer new insight into the fan-favorite character. “In this film we get to understand her past and put the pieces of herself together and come out a whole person,” Shortland said. But the cast and filmmakers kept it brief, letting the footage do the talking for them.
The Black Widow footage kicked off with a character reel, showcasing her highlight moments from “The Infinity Saga” (which is what Marvel now calls the MCU movies from Iron Man to Endgame). We hear her emotional exchange, “I used to have nothing and then I got this job… this family. I was better because of it.” Natasha’s heroic moments flash across the screen and we land on her Civil War chat with Tony. “Must be hard to shake the double agent thing,” he says. “They’re coming to you.”
Then the screen cuts to exactly what Marvel fans have been waiting to see since the first Avengers: Budapest. We see Natasha walking through the European city streets, into a building where she boards an elevator and pulls a gun from her bag. When she reaches her floor, she walks through the doors gun blazing, shouting, “I know you’re up there!” Waiting for her is Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), aiming a gun of her own. “Are we going to talk like grown-ups?” Natasha asks. “Is that what we are?” Yelena replies. Before you can blink, their standoff turns to a fight scene. They trade blows and swap guns with one quick, graceful gesture —they’re clearly a match for each other, trained in the same style of fighting — then it’s full-on hand-to-hand combat.
Shortland is into a Bourne vibe here with quick cuts and brutal action, where every object in the room is a potential weapon. The closest example in the Marvel family would be the Winter Soldier vibe. When their fight leads them to the kitchen area, crashing into a sink, Yelena wields the plates like an arsenal while Natasha comes at her with a towel. Yelena kicks Natasha through a glass door and while
Johansson readies herself for the next round, Yelena pulls a kitchen knife and comes strutting towards her. There’s an effective drop in the score as the scene goes silent, punctuated by the grunts and crashes of the knife fight. The big brawl leads them around the house until Natasha grabs a curtain and starts choking Yelena out. But her fellow young assassin responds in turn, wrapping the rest of curtain around Natasha’s neck. They lie there on the floor like that when the scene cuts to a friendlier follow-up.
“Good to see you, sis,” Natasha says, pouring Yelena a shot. “You just had to come to Budapest.” Then we got a series of rapid-fire cuts showing off some of the action — Natasha and Yelena riding a bike in tandem, multiple car chases through the crowded streets, Widow running through a mountain range, lots of guns.
Finally, we get a shot of her in a car crash, she stumbles out of the flaming wreckage onto the bridge, where a man in a mask walks towards her. She fires, but he pulls a shield and blocks the bullets. It’s likely the Red Guardian (played by Harbour, as confirmed by the press release,) the Soviet answer to Captain America. They trade blows, and like it was with Yelena, these are two graceful fighters clearly trained in a similar fashion. The sequence ends in a standoff, both kneeling and looking at each other in an identical pose.