After years of waiting, Black Widow fans are finally getting the standalone film that they’ve been hoping for—a solo origin story for Natasha Romanoff, the Russian spy-turned-Avenger. When the first trailer for the upcoming 2020 film dropped on Tuesday morning, a whole slew of previously unseen characters made their debut. Unless you’re a true Black Widow stan, those flashes of a ripped David Harbour may be as confusing as they are exciting.
With Black Widow’s—spoiler—unfortunate demise at the end of Avengers: Endgame, it’s no shock that the stand-alone film is set in Romanoff’s past. Flashing back (um, forward?) to her time with the Avengers, the spy-turned hero says, “I used to have nothing. And then I got this job. This family. But nothing lasts forever.” With a quick nod to some of those pre-Iron Man flashbacks, it seems that the prequel is going to address some of those lingering questions about Black Widow’s origin story.
Who are David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, and Florence Pugh’s characters?
David Harbour makes his first appearance as Alexei Shostakov, also known as the Red Guardian. In the comics, Shostakov’s character was initially in an arranged marriage with Romanoff until the Soviets chose him to be the Russian-counterpart to Captain America—faking his death and ending his marriage to Romanoff, forbidding him from communicating with her.
That being said, the trailer doesn’t give many “former spouse” vibes. When Shoskatov dons the Red Guardian uniform and sits down at the dinner table with Black Widow, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), and Iron Maiden (Rachel Weisz), it feels a bit more familial than anything else.
Speaking of, Black Widow will also introduce the characters of Yelena Belova and Iron Maiden for the first time. In the comics, Belova was initially a spy sent to kill Romanoff, but the two later became close allies. That doesn’t quite come across in the trailer, but when you jump ship from the KGB and make a return, it’s fair to be suspicious, no? And then any standalone film about Black Widow that didn’t include Iron Maiden would be insane. The super villain’s debut is long overdue. In the comics, Iron Maiden is a member of the Femizons (an all female super villain group) and a long-time foe to Black Widow. But the suggested time frame of Black Widow makes for a perfect opportunity for the character to join the Thunderbolts, a group of reformed super villains, similar to the DC counterpart of the Suicide Squad.
What time period is this set in?
From what we can tell, this trailer seems to confirm that the film is set some time around the events of Captain America: Civil War (a detail reported this summer by Entertainment Weekly). With multiple references to Black Widow’s return home, it’s clearly well past the World War II period when the Red Guardian was incepted. In a hilarious trailer moment, Shoskatov says the suit “still fits,” to which the Iron Maiden says, “You got fat.” No one is better suited to pull off that dad’s-still-got-it energy than David Harbour.
According to theories, this film will also include the final scene between Romanoff and Tony Stark. Deadline confirmed earlier this summer that Robert Downey Jr. would reprise his role as the—spoiler, but have you guys not seen this?—equally ill-fated Iron Man.
Want to get weird and theorize for fun?
With David Harbour’s Stranger Things character, Hopper, not having the best finale episode in Season Three, some fans are hoping that Hopper’s likely demise opens the door for an impossible crossover. Though it’s never going to happen, fans hope that Marvel just throws caution to the wind and makes Hopper the Red Guardian. To that, we say—do it, you won’t.
Black Widow is set for a May 1, 2020 release date, with at least one more full length trailer in the works before it breaks box office records next year.