Black Widow trailer decoded: Taskmaster, little 'sis,' and Red Guardian explained
"Nothing lasts forever"
In the wee hours of Tuesday morning or late Monday night, depending on your time zone, Marvel unleashed the first Black Widow trailer for Scarlett Johansson's standalone superhero movie outing. That means it's also time to dig into the secrets revealed, including details of Natasha's history.
The preview begins with the heroine staring at her reflection in a mirror, setting the tone for the forces and themes at play. "I used to have nothing," she says during a flashback to her Avengers: Age of Ultron Wanda-vision, the one that glimpsed her past training to become a Black Widow assassin. She continues, "...and then I got this job, this family, but nothing lasts forever." Her family was the Avengers, obviously, and since this film takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War, which saw Earth's Mightiest Heroes disband, those last words hold more weight for her.
Now, Natasha is on her own, since warning Tony Stark he should watch his back. But where?
That time in Budapest
The answer came in the shot before with the Liberty Statue in Budapest.
You may recall in the first Avengers movie, Natasha turns to Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) during the battle of New York and remarks, "Just like Budapest all over again." Both she and Hawkeye have history here and it's an appropriate setting for someone looking to confront the ghosts of her past.
Thanks to paparazzi, we already got a tip about at least one secret from the trailer.
General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt) returns to the Marvel universe, but he's been digitally aged-down. Say it with us: Flashback!
Ross's history is entangled with that of the super soldier serum. That's what he was up to before rising through the ranks of the armed forces. It's unclear exactly where and how his path crossed with Natasha's, but that's what the 2020 film is for.
"I'm done running from my past."
Natasha's past includes Yelena, played by the fiercely talented Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Little Women). Yelena, like Natasha, was trained in the ways of the Black Widow assassins. Pugh wasn't kidding when she told EW how her character's next meeting with Natasha would be "quite heightened and heated."
For a movie that's about Natasha confronting her past and, ultimately, herself, mirrors seem to be a significant motif. Following the trailer's opening scene, we see how Yelena becomes a mirror image of Natasha. That makes fighting her extremely difficult, since both have the same particular set of skills. (Side note, maybe all Budapest apartments look the same, but the setting is giving off some serious Villanelle Killing Eve vibes.)
"We have unfinished business"
Natasha pops up in a new Black Widow suit — or, more likely, an older one. This seems to be from the same flashback sequence that brought us a younger General Ross.
"We have to go back to where it all started"
This next scene seems to support that theory, as Natasha stands in a room next to what appears to be Ross. Natasha is always trying to wipe some of that red from her ledger, and there's a lot of red on whatever they are looking at on screen.
Three's a party
After their initial reunion, Natasha and Yelena must set their sights on a new target: another Black Widow agent? Based on the costumes, this seems to take place right after the earlier apartment skirmish that then bleeds out onto the street in a motorcycle chase.
A white knight
"We have to go back to where it all started."
Team Natasha infiltrate some secret facility, and black suits just don't blend in with snow. The suit does from Marvel comics, specifically a variant cover for issue #2 of Black Widow: Deadly Origin from writer Paul Cornell and artists Tom Raney and John Paul Leon.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, shady facilities seem to enjoy icy surroundings, namely that Siberian HYDRA facility that birthed the Winter Soldier.
Yelena isn't exactly psyched to go back to their old stomping grounds. It's the place where Natasha was forcibly sterilized, for one. For another, it's where all their other "sisters" were trained. We don't know if this is the Red Room, but there sure are a lot of Black Widow assassins in a Red Room.
Up for the task
Amid all the nefarious, mysterious forces at play, up rises Taskmaster.
The comic book villain, who's been showing up in a couple Marvel-related videogames of late, has a mnemonic ability that allows him to replicate the skills of others, often through observation. (Another "mirror" of sorts.)
In the trailer, we see him ready to fire his bow and arrow, an abillity he no doubt copied from Hawkeye. Marvel Studios concept artist Andy Park also previously shared an illustration for a scene in the film with Taskmaster holding a shield reminiscient of Captain America.
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite) once described Malena as "a pretty tough chick." Here, we see her with her own Black Widow ensemble, complete with batons strapped to her back.
Malena has “been cycled through the Black Widow Red Room [program] five times at this point in her life," the actress once told EW. “She’s quite a seasoned spy and assassin,” Weisz added. “She’s also deeply involved in a scientific experiment which I cannot tell you about because it’s part of the story we can’t talk about!”
If this trailer is any evidence, David Harbour is basically playing David Harbour with a Hungarian accent in Black Widow. Really, though, he's playing Red Guardian. You may notice a similarity between Harbour's costume and Chris Evans' Cap digs. That's because Red Guardian was the Soviets' effort to create their own super soldier. Is this the "scientific experiment" Weisz was referencing? Is this plot also wrapped up in that Ross flashback?
"A helluva reunion"
Family dinner in Black Widow's house involves three expert assassins and one super soldier that "got fat," per Malena. Natasha's own mini Avengers team.
Red Guardian vs. Taskmaster
Keeping with the theme of facing off with oneself, Red Guardian does battle against Taskmaster, who's able to serve the hero's moves right back at him.
While the battle set within this wintry facility takes place on the ground, Natasha takes the action to the sky. She's not wearing her white suit, so it looks like a different sequence. But the bad guys are the same. As they say in the MCU, it's all connected.
Directed by Cate Shortland, Black Widow doesn't hit theaters until May 1, 2020, so there's plenty of time to marinate in this footage and whatever goodies await us down the line.