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Endgame Spoilers: The ‘Black Widow’ Movie Has a Problem

Patch Penguin and the Avengers

Marvel was hailed for its decision to finally give fans what they had been asking for: a “Black Widow” movie starring Scarlett Johansson. This is a movie fanboys and fanwomen can get behind with little controversy. The only problem is (spoilers ahead) –

Black Widow is dead.

ICYMI, (and with a global box office take heading beyond $2 billion, how could you?): Black Widow sacrificed herself to get the Soul Stone, so that Hawkeye could go back to his family. This exchange is permanent according to the paragon of truth known as the Red Skull (Do we really trust his word on it and how did he get to be an expert after being sent to Vormir by the Tesseract?). Hulk Banner tried to bring her back with his snap and failed. So, as far as anyone knows, Black Widow is dead forever and ever. Amen.

Of course, permanent in the comic book world is really more like “until pent up demand will sell a whole lot of comics with the right story line.) And Marvel has a problem with keeping its characters dead. Just ask Agent/Director Phil Coulson (I thought his name was “agent”), or any of the dozens of characters brought back in “Avengers: Endgame.” So, what will the “Black Widow” movie be about?

The Prequel

Let’s assume that Black Widow is dead and not coming back. That makes the “Black Widow” movie a prequel – or, as I like to call prequels, a movie with no stakes. We already know what happens to Natasha Romanoff in the future. We know she joins the Avengers and ends up sacrificing herself for the greater good. We spent the last decade learning who Romanoff is now, not knowing much about her past.

This type of “Black Widow” movie would have the same problem that “Solo” had. It’s playing with a character that everyone knows and loves. In “Solo,” there wasn’t enough character turning to explain how Han went from someone who loves a woman to someone who is only out for himself. (Maybe future movies would’ve explored this arc, but those look to be defunct as do many of the other Star Wars movies that were planned.” To succeed, the prequel would have to fully explain how Romanoff went from U.S.S.R. super spy to S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, especially after going through extensive brainwashing and the cultural brainwashing that comes from living in any society.

You could write her change in heart and nature while comparing it to the fall of the U.S.S.R., but this type of political and historical action will need a context that many people today, even those who lived through it, simply lack. It’s a risky proposition fraught with peril and landmines.

A prequel would also necessitate another landmine situation. Scarlett Johansson would have to go through the same de-aging process as Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Michael Douglas, and to a lesser extent, Michelle Pfeiffer. In the body-positive age, will anyone be happy with a de-aged ScarJo? No one’s made a bug deal about it with the men or with Pfeiffer, but done incorrectly, it could have a negative impact greater than the trolls that regularly come out to jeer Marvel’s superwomen.

While it’s unlikely that any titular character is going to die in his or her own movie, the possibility of Black Widow’s death in a prequel is zero. Prequels, like flashbacks, have no weight. They have no stakes. Instead of advancing the story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they stop it dead in its tracks. “Captain Marvel” was well-received, but knowing she was in Endgame took away some of the power the movie could’ve had. “Black Widow” would suffer in the same way. The film will be like watching a biography or documentary made by a company that usually deals in high stakes movies.

The Alternate Timeline

It’s an alternate timeline Black Widow! This could certainly be more entertaining to watch as Romanoff gets plucked out of time and transported to the present day that requires her specific set of skills. This “Black Widow” could more fully develop Marvel’s version of time travel and the problems it causes. It could even be set up as part of the story line that Black Widow’s death and some seriously negative side effects. (What if she’s the glue for a team that otherwise won’t work together and fails at their mission?) The story could really be anything with an alternate timeline Romanoff.

The problem with this “Black Widow” movie is that people are used to Marvel films and television (even the Netflix shows) taking place in the same timeline. That’s what built up the colossal success of “Endgame.” While some shows may be moving in that direction (i.e. Disney+’s “Loki”), the movies could have a problem keeping their audiences and their tie-ins to each other. Marvel could come up with a designation to separate out the timelines, but it could get messy for quickly and destroy the cohesiveness that has allowed the MCU to flourish on the movie screen. Fortunately, fan sites can help keep people straight on which movie goes where.

The Soul Stone

The Soul Stone is said to trap the souls exchanged for its use inside a pocket dimension or alternate reality. Exploring this world would definitely be interesting and move the story forward. Perhaps, because Black Widow sacrificed herself, the Soul Stone reacts differently to her. It may be the reason she’s able to return, proving the Red Skull wring in the process. The self-sacrifice and its purity in act and intention would explain why Gamora can’t escape, as could her child form. However, it’s possible for her child form to play the role of mentor and guide for Black Widow.

The souls trapped in the stone could be like crabs in a bucket. They keep each other trapped, and Black Widow will have to figure out how to fix that. In this scenario Gamora could be used to betray Black Widow when its revealed that Gamora has been sabotaging Romanoff from the beginning. The Soul Stone doesn’t sound like a good entity if it wants to trap souls. In the case of Gamora, it may be that the longer a soul spends in the stone, the more corrupt it becomes.

If Marvel still wants to include an origin story for Black Widow, it can use the Soul Stone alternate reality as a place made up of the person’s past experiences. This could be a sort of health, especially if the Soul Stone gains its powers through the torture of souls (or through their screams, like Monstropolis in “Monsters Inc.” before they found the true power of a child’s laughter).

Marvel continues to surprise and wow audiences, but even the best of studios is going to make a misstep. Let’s hope “Black Widow” isn’t the next one.

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Who Has the Better Fans: Marvel or Star Wars?

As “Avengers: Endgame” prepares to fall short of the domestic box office total of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” we should ask who has the better movie fans. Are Star Wars fans better than Marvel fans?

In the top 20 domestic movie box offices of all-time, there are five movies form the Star Wars franchise: “Star Wars” at 16, “Star Wars: Episode 1 – the Phantom Menace” at 15, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” at 12, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” at 9, and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on top of the domestic box office with almost $1 billion. The total take for these films is about $3.02 billion.

Marvel also has five films in the top 20: “Avengers: Age of Ultron” at 17, “Marvel’s The Avengers” at 8, “Avengers: Endgame” at 7 (still in theaters and projected to grab the number two spot), “Avengers: Infinity War” at 3, and “Black Panther” at 2. These films have totaled about $3.1 billion. Based on these two metrics, Marvel movie fans have the edge over Star Wars fans. (“Captain Marvel” is still in theaters and could make it to the top 20 if it receives a continued “Endgame” boost. It stands at 24 and is about $14 million away from passing “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial” and taking the 20th spot.)

Until “Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker,” Marvel fans will continue to have the edge, especially with “Endgame” making it to the second spot, giving Marvel three films in the top 5 for domestic gross. (In case you’re counting, when “Endgame” passes “Titanic,” Disney properties will own the top 5 movies of all time for unadjusted domestic box office.)

Marvel fans can make a huge statement with several films still on the docket before the next Star Wars release. The biggest statement would come if they can propel “Endgame” to the top spot and get “Captain Marvel” into the top 20. “X-Men: The Dark Phoenix,” “Men in Black International,” “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” “The New Mutants,” and “Kingsman 3” are all opportunities for Marvel fans to exercise their power as the best fan base by voting at the box office.

With the crash and burn of “Solo,” Disney has taken a step back from its Star Wars movie properties. However, in real life, Star Wars is the only property with its own land: “Galaxy’s Edge.” While Marvel characters have taken over Hollywood Studios at Disney California Adventure, it isn’t Marvel’s land; the heroes are scheduled to be moved into the former Bug’s Land in 2020.  This seems like a tie. So, what do you think?

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Why This Isn’t an ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Review: Spoiling Things Sucks

KINDER SURPRISE! NO SPOILERS!

Every m-f-ing major media website has posted more stories about “Avengers: Endgame” by now than it has any right to, but I’m not upset about that. What I am upset about is that I haven’t had the opportunity to see Endgame yet and with every frickin’ new headline, its photo and its accompanying article summary, I come closer to having the movie spoiled for me. I don’t want headlines about certain characters and accompanying questions. And I would repeat them here, except then I would be doing the same thing to you that Yahoo!, Entertainment Weekly, and others have already done to me.

Why do they do it? Money. In a couple of weeks, no one is going to care about Avengers: Endgame. They’re going to be on to something else: Godzilla, maybe, or Pokémon, or John Wick… Whatever it is, the general public isn’t going to want to click on Avengers: Endgame stories anymore. Even if it does, those stories are worth a lot more because they are already on the web, so people who are late to the game will still be able to click and find them.

In journalism and the Internet, it’s all about speed. Get it out first and fast. You can correct errors later and, in the case of a movie article, people who don’t want spoilers shouldn’t click on the link and F them anyway. I have unfollowed spoiler accounts including the New York and LA times and Yahoo! Entertainment. I will continue to do so. I might follow them back later on, because print media like the New York Times and the LA Times need saving for the sake of the First Amendment and democracy, but for now, they can believe that Thanos snapped me out of existence.

So, for now, Thanos demands my silence. If you want to read a review from me, you’re going to have to swim against the tide and wait a couple of weeks. I will post my review then. It may or may not have spoilers. I don’t know. What I do know is that now is not the time to be publishing stories about the movie that could ruin it for others. And that, true believer, includes information about cameos, Easter eggs, and any of the characters we’ve spent the last 22 movies following. Follow my blog, follow me on Twitter and on Facebook if you want to read my review of Avengers: Endgame later and show the other news media that you will support a review even after the original furor goes by. When it comes up, share it and comment on it. (You can do the same with this article if you feel like I do about spoiling things, except commenting – no commenting, no GIFs, no SPOILERS.)