(Pocket-lint) - The future of Marvel might be revealed soon.

Marvel fans have been clamoring for a standalone Black Widow film ever since Scarlett Johansson brought the super-spy to the big screen in 2010 with Iron Man 2. Now, not only is the comic character finally getting her solo debut, but she is essentially kicking off Marvel’s new Phase 4 - as long as COVID-19 doesn't cause any more delays. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is quite literally entering a new phase, with Black Widow at the helm.

However, Marvel Studios has some pressing questions it will need to answer for fans in this first Phase 4 film. Like, what's next for Black Widow and her role in the MCU? Keep in mind her story arc seemingly ended with Avengers: Endgame. To help give you a better idea of the new, standalone Black Widow film hitting cinemas later this year, including how it might impact the future of the MCU, here’s everything we know so far about it.

NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS BELOW.

Black Widow: Plot rumours

For the uninitiated, Marvel plans and releases movies in narratively connected phases. Many of the titles in each phase are standalone films on certain characters, and they usually build up toward all the Avengers teaming up to deal with a threat in the final film of the phase. Phase 3 bucked that trend slightly, by adding on Spider-Man: Far From Home as something of an Epilogue to the Infinity Stone-driven saga of the first three phases.

This positions Black Widow in an interesting spot. It'll start an entirely new phase of Marvel films, Phase 4, although it's set almost a decade before, in the previous phase of the MCU. It's also starring a character who died in Phase 3. So, it's a very Phase 3-ish film, and yet it's meant to be a Phase 4 movie.

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New Black Widow

The last time we saw Natasha Romanoff (aka the Black Widow), she was fighting her long-time friend, Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner), for who gets the right to throw themselves off a cliff. She won and died. Hence why the new Black Widow film is set after the events in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War instead - when she is alive and moving on from having to choose between her closest friends, Tony Stark and Steve Rogers.

The new Marvel movie will see Scarlett Johannson return as Natasha Romanoff. She's investigating her own past, including how she was trained to become a Black Widow assassin through a Soviet training program known as the Red Room. Like one of our other favourite Marvel superheroes, Johannson is expected to pass the Black Widow baton to another assassin, Yelena Belova (played by Florence Pugh), who trained alongside Romanoff.

Early trailers for the movie show Romanoff reuniting with some type of family unit she’s had in the past, including Pugh’s Yelena. We also see Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff and Stranger Things’ David Harbour. He plays the Soviet Union’s answer to Captain America, the Red Guardian.

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Taskmaster, the villain?

Marvel seems to be positioning Taskmaster from the comics as the villain in the new Black Widow movie. He’s capable of mimicking the fighting styles of anyone he observes in a fight, which is why trailers show him using claws similar to the Black Panther, a bow and arrow like Hawkeye, and a shield like Captain America. The character is masked and we know next to nothing about his motivations.

It wouldn’t be shocking to find out Taskmaster is just the muscle for another bad guy with a larger plan.

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What happened in Budapest?

In the first Avengers film from 2012, there’s a throwaway scene where Hawkeye and Black Widow compare Loki's invasion of New York to another experience they had while fighting in Budapest. Marvel's new film is set after that moment would’ve happened, but fans would love to know what actually happened in Budapest that was comparable to an alien army invading New York. Perhaps we will learn in Black Widow.

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The return of Tony Stark

Rumours suggest Robert Downey Jr will make an appearance as Iron Man in the new film. Given that Black Widow is set before the events of Endgame, and Tony Stark is therefore still alive, it makes sense that he could have a part in the movie. Don’t get your hopes up for anything more than a cameo, though.

Black Widow: Cast and crew

Here is a selection of the main cast and crew, all of which have been confirmed by Marvel Studios:

  • Scarlett Johansson - Black Widow aka Natasha Romanoff
  • Florence Pugh - Yelena Belova
  • Rachel Weisz - Melina Vostokoff
  • David Harbour - Alexei Shostakov aka The Red Guardian
  • Robert Downey Jr. - Tony Stark aka Iron Man
  • William Hurt - Thaddeus Ross
  • Cate Shortland - Director
  • Kevin Feige - Producer
  • Eric Pearson - Writer

Black Widow: Trailers

Here's the latest trailer we've seen for Black Widow:

Black Widow: Release date

As if fans haven’t already waited long enough for Black Widow, Marvel Studios announced at the start of the pandemic that it pushed back the release of the film from 1 May 2020 to 6 November 2020. Another Marvel movie, The Eternals, was originally scheduled to premiere that date; it's been delayed as well.

Want to know more?

Check out our guide on upcoming Marvel films,Marvel post-credit scenes, plus how to watch every Marvel movie in chronological order.

Writing by Maggie Tillman.