When does the 'Black Widow' movie take place? MCU timeline, explained

 Confused by the trailer? Don't worry, there's a simple answer to everything.


Good to see you, Natasha. During the cover of night (at least for the western world, it was during the day for fans wide awake throughout Asia), Marvel released the trailer for Black Widow, the long-awaited solo superhero movie starring Scarlett Johansson in her final (?) appearance as Black Widow.

While Marvel fans are having a ball watching Black Widow kick Taskmaster’s butt with allies Red Guardian, Yelena, and Melina, there is a lingering question on many fans’ minds: When does this movie take place?

It’s a good question, since it was in this year’s Avengers: Endgame where Natasha sacrificed herself to allow the Avengers obtain the Soul Stone. (“A soul for a soul.”) So how can Natasha be alive? The answer is actually quite simple.

As revealed by Marvel Studios, and in an interview with screenwriter Jac Schaeffer to Inverse, 2020’s Black Widow takes place in the immediate aftermath of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. This is why the trailer has Natasha on the run. After helping the fugitive Captain America escape with the Winter Soldier, she’s now hiding from the eyes of the U.S. government, S.H.I.E.L.D., and most especially, her old enemies from the Red Room.

As Schaeffer told Inverse, Natasha is “very much on her own.” Throughout Black Widow, “She has to reckon with some of the red in her ledger.”

The Sokovia Accords

In case you need a refresher on Captain America: Civil War (now streaming on Disney+), here’s what went down. In the aftermath of 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, the United Nations compels the Avengers (comprised of Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, Vision, Wanda, and War Machine) to sign the Sokovia Accords, which would put the Avengers under official U.N. oversight.

Captain America/Steve Rogers, having grown weary of the modern world and in the midst of relearning what “patriotism” means, resists government oversight. Meanwhile, Iron Man/Tony Stark, once a libertarian wet dream, now advocates for oversight based on his own guilt in making Ultron and fearing a coming, existential threat that would soon reveal itself to be Thanos.

And so Captain America and Iron Man butt heads, each of them choosing “sides” while a shadowy figure lurks behind the scenes pulling the strings.

Although Black Widow “sides” with Iron Man, she comes to grips with Captain America’s cause and “betrays” Stark, using her tools to stop Black Panther from getting to Cap and Bucky (aka, the Winter Soldier) so they can escape.

“Boy, it must be hard to shake the double agent thing, huh?” Tony snarks at Natasha after the fight. “T’Challa told Ross what you did. So, they’re coming for you.” Says Natasha, “I’m not the one that needs to watch their back.”

We’ll see in Black Widow just how far Nattie gets before reuniting with Cap, Falcon, and others before the battle of Avengers: Infinity War begins.

Black Widow will release in theaters on May 1, 2020.

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