The interconnected storytelling of the Marvel Cinematic Universe gives each entry the opportunity to showcase cameos (see Anthony Mackie’s Falcon showing up in “Ant-Man”), and many MCU fans expected the recently-released “Black Widow” to include a major one. Rumors surfaced long before the film’s release that Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man would show up (perhaps through cut footage from “Captain America: Civil War”). The confirmation “Black Widow” would reveal the character’s mission in Budapest also had MCU fans banking on an appearance from Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye. Neither MCU heavyweight pops up in “Black Widow,” and that was a deliberate choice.
“Initially, there was discussions about everything, about all of the different characters,” director Cate Shortland told Total Film magazine. “What we decided was, and I think Kevin was really great, he said, ‘She doesn’t need the boys.’ We didn’t want it to feel like she needs the support. We want her to stand alone. And she does.”
Prior to the film’s release, Shortland spoke to IndieWire about another way the film distinguished itself from the larger MCU: Graphic violence. “Black Widow” is easily the most violent Marvel movie to date. Making the violence as visceral and hard-hitting as possible was another deliberate choice.
“What I wanted to do was approach every element with the same truth,” Shortland said. “So, if we’re looking at a scene with violence, then we wanted to feel the punches and we wanted to feel the repercussions of a hit or a kick. The way we choreographed the fights, it was really exciting, because we were working with choreographers that really knew how we wanted to work and that we wanted to make it really gritty.”
Shortland continued, “When I came onto the film, because I’d been making art-house films and hadn’t the experience with fights, I kind of made short films exploring what I wanted to explore in this film in terms of physical movement and violence. I cut together sequences from the last 30, 40 years of fights that I loved or moments of violence that I loved, even stalking or chase [scenes]. Then we could all look at that and talk about it.”
“Black Widow” launched over the weekend with $215 million, including a $60 million streaming gross on Disney+ through the studio’s Premier Access banner.