BREAKING NEWS! Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Black Widow’ gets new and final summer release date

Credit: Marvel/Disney+

By Dan Buffa, Special to the Jewish Light

“Black Widow,” the solo Scarlett Johansson Marvel vehicle that was originally scheduled to open on May 1, 2020 has gotten a final release date: July 9, 2021. 

It went from November 2020 to May of this year before Disney finally decided on a firm release date. With vaccinations still spreading across the United States, this is a simple decision for a billion dollar mega-company. It wants to profit off theater and streaming service abilities, releasing the film on Disney+ Premier Access simultaneously as it arrives in theaters this summer.

Johansson, who identifies as Jewish and comes from an Ashkenazi Jewish family from Poland and Russia, will finally get her solo mission as the notorious Russian spy who joined Nick Fury’s gang of Earth’s mightiest heroes to save the world over and over again. For seven years and eight movies, Johansson’s fully human team leader lent the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) fine support, but had been waiting for her own movie, something only a few of the big cast didn’t receive. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) all got three movies apiece while Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, Don Cheadle’s Iron Patriot (taken over from Terence Howard in the 2008 launching Tony Stark film), Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, and Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk only played supporting roles in those adventures and the official team-up films. 

All of those releases are aimed to be tentpole films, aka blockbuster moneymakers. While Disney wasted little time in putting “Mulan” and “Soul” onto streaming services late last year, putting a huge Marvel film like “Black Widow” out there into a similar landscape that is just seeing New York and Los Angeles open theaters again would be unwise.

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This new film seals Romanoff’s story off for good and could launch new characters in the upcoming phase of the MCU. You can’t release a movie twice, so waiting isn’t a bad idea if you look at it from a business standpoint. Ask yourself how much of the country will be vaccinated and feel safe in going to movies by the first week of May, and then ask the same question about the first week of July. These are fan-friendly movies, but also expensive commodities. 

“Black Widow” had a budget of over $200 million and clocks in at over two hours. It had all the makings of a spring release, which is where the majority of Marvel releases usually drop. But desperate times call for desperate measures, so the cruelest of fates for a fan to endure is simply more time. This is Disney doing their best to respect the new model of releases, a practice kicked into motion by Warner Brothers’ bold announcement in December to release their entire 2021 tentpole film schedule-films including “Dune” and the DCEU’s “Suicide Squad”-on HBO Max and theaters at the same time. 

I am glad Johansson’s last ride (two-year-old spoiler alerts still required?) will get a bigger audience. If you waited two years for a new Marvel movie (“Black Widow’s July 9 date follows 2019’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home” July 2 release), two more months shouldn’t be too much to ask. An invaluable part of the MCU for over 13 years, the actress’ very popular crimefighter will get the full backstory teased back in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which provided fans with a glimpse of Romanoff in a spy school that left her permanently damaged. In addition to that, a new supervillain is brought into the fray in Taskmaster with the 2021 summer release, and Natasha’s family is introduced in Cate Shortland’s film as well: Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), and Alexei aka Red Guardian (David Harbour). 

Fun fact before I go: Jac Schaeffer, the creator behind “WandaVision,” has a story credit on “Black Widow.” Jewish star and a white hot writer teaming up on the same movie. I’d say that’s something worth waiting for.

That wait ends on July 9. When “Black Widow” goes into theaters, one can officially say movie theaters and the movie experience are fully back. That’s where it all commences.