The news about a Black Widow solo film getting into early development and Jac Schaeffer writing its script, has caused quite a frenzy on the internet. However, many people have already started guessing whether the movie will be the first entry into the R-rated category for Marvel?
The discussion about R-rated films in MCU has been gaining traction lately, more so after taking into account Sony’s Venom and the MCU’s future Deadpool franchise. However, if Marvel wanted to create its own R-rated movies, then a film based on Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) might be a great start.
At first glance, it might come across as an idea fraught with risks, taking into account the various family-oriented movies of which Johansson has been a part. However, some sort of transition has already been witnessed in the world of Marvel comics-based movies with Hugh Jackman’s final Wolverine appearance in the highly appreciated R-rated movie Logan.
Although, this might not be Johansson’s last portrayal of the character, there is some history, on comic book pages and on the big screen, supporting the idea of the Black Widow movie doing well as R-rating, because it would properly depict the deadly spy missions of Natasha with well-placed flashbacks of her earlier life. MCU hasn’t emphasized on Natasha’s “Red Room” history so far. Thus, a new reboot style approach to her story, not restricted by the PG-13 rating, might be the ideal approach.
As far as high voltage spy films are concerned, there are quite a few examples from the last few years (even without counting the upcoming Black Widow style Red Sparrow).
We can also look at the John Wick series, which has apparently reshaped the action film genre (and the career path of Keanu Reeves). David Leitch, the co-director of John Wick, adopted that style to the Charlize Theron starrer Atomic Blonde, cinematic version of the graphic novel The Coldest City.
Although Natasha Romanoff and Lorraine Broughton don’t have similar stories, they share similar energy and outlook about the onscreen portrayals. The colorful and appealing cinematography merged with the mega and novel action scenes, you can easily spot the Atomic Blonde elements featuring in a proposed Black Widow movie.
Then there is Natasha’s feel of a complex character, another thing which MCU has handled in different ways earlier, and it would definitely appeal to fans. Changing towards such a narrative might be visible in Atomic Blonde, and that’s what The Coldest City’s creative team had wished for.
“We’re slowly getting to a place where not every female lead character onscreen has to be a saint or has be driven by some terribly emotionally tragic backstory.” The Coldest City writer Antony Johnston said “We can have a character like Lorraine who’s just doing her job. She’s not traumatized, she’s not revenging her dead daughter or anything like that. She’s just doing her job, and she’s doing it as well or better than the guys, whilst not being an especially nice person about it. And that’s okay. And I really like that we are slowly getting to a place where we can do that with impunity. And we don’t have to hold up every female character as some kind of idealized role model onscreen.”
For now, we need to wait and watch how the Black Widow movie takes shape, and whether it gets R-rating. However, the announcement that it is going to happen is great news and might give a new direction to MCU’s Phase 4.