Black Widow is a movie that represents a series of firsts for Marvel Studios.
Not only is it the first Marvel movie to be released since Spider-Man: Far From Home in July 2019 (thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic), or the first to kick off the studio's Phase 4 film slate.
Black Widow also serves as a prequel of sorts for Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff, the first time that Marvel has made a movie that explores more of a character's backstory long past their MCU introduction – and it may not be the last.
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The prospect of more prequel-style MCU movies was teased by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. Speaking during a press conference ahead of Black Widow's release (per SlashFilm), Feige hinted that Marvel may follow a similar formula for other MCU characters, providing that the right story and themes could be found.
“Certainly this film and this story is a particular case for for Natasha," Feige explained. "But the notion of exploring the past, present, and future of the MCU is certainly in the cards for all of our characters. This particular story of this particular cast is very personal, very specific to Natasha.”
Analysis: Feige's comments open up more MCU avenues to explore
Technically, this isn't the first prequel-like production that Marvel has made.
Loki's Disney Plus series can be viewed as a project set in the past. The events of Loki only begin once the Avengers travel back in time (to 2012) in Endgame to locate the Tesseract. However, they botch this particular part of the plan and the 2012 version of Loki ends up escaping, which leads into the God of Mischief's standalone adventure.
Captain Marvel, too, is a sort-of-prequel movie. It's an origin story for this superhero, yes, but it's set in the past (the 1990s) so you could view it as a prequel film if you squint at it.
Of course, purists may say that Loki, Captain Marvel and Black Widow aren't prequels in the truest sense. Loki is a show that travels to the past and future, Captain Marvel (as we said) is an origin story, and Black Widow is more of a pre-sequel for the character.
Regardless of how you perceive this MCU trio, Feige's comments make for intriguing reading.
If Marvel does have ideas for exploring the past of "all of our characters", it opens up a lot of avenues for the studio regarding old or dead superheroes.
Back in January, Deadline reported that Chris Evans would be reprising his role as Captain America for a fourth solo movie – speculation that Evans and Feige have refuted since – but Feige's answer above does pose some intriguing possibilities.
Could we see Evans return as Steve Rogers in a 1950s or 1960s setting? In the final scene of Endgame, audiences saw that he had reunited with Peggy Carter. There's no reason, then, why he couldn't take up his shield for one last outing to thwart another superpowered foe, particularly if an organization (the TVA, US government or another) found out that he was alive after he seemingly perished during Captain America: The First Avenger.
Feige's comments on the possibility of other MCU prequels could allow Johansson to return as Black Widow again, too, or even Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. Both are extremely unlikely (as is Evans' return as Cap) but Feige has certainly added fuel to these particular fires, as well as any other MCU characters who fans may want to see again.
For us, though, more prequel movies aren't really necessary. Unless there's a fan favorite character who doesn't get an origins story (such as Black Widow) before they may their MCU debut, prequel films won't serve much of a purpose.
Regardless, we won't be getting any other prequel-style movies for a while. Marvel's Phase 4 slate is already stacked, and we'll be getting 10 films between now and July 5, 2023. Don't bet on more prequel movies arriving on the big screen, then, until 2024 at the earliest.
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