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Black Widow reveals Natasha's dark past, sets up Taskmaster origin in first trailer since coronavirus delay

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Apr 3, 2021, 12:53 PM EDT

After it was delayed twice as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Widow has spun a new trailer for Natasha Romanoff's standalone MCU feature. The movie was originally supposed to open in early May 2020 before it was postponed to late November. When it became clear that the health crisis was here to stay, Disney pushed the project into 2021, ultimately going for a dual theatrical and streaming rollout modeled after Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon.

Directed by Cate Shortland (Berlin Syndrome), the film takes place between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. Natasha (the returning Scarlett Johansson) is on the run from the government (led by William Hurt's Thunderbolt Ross) and reconnects with her old Russian assassin comrades: Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian (David Harbour), and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz). Together, they'll help take down the mysterious Taskmaster, a villain who has mastered a number of Avengers fighting styles. Based on the new footage, it looks like Taskmaster is the creation of Ray Winstone's Red Room leader, Dreykov.

"He's a guy who came out of old Russia after the breakdown of communism. He really wanted to change something and protect his nation," Winstone said during an interview for a special tie-in book released last November. "I think he was a man who started off with great intentions, but like most great men who are put into a situation, the greed and the power takes over. The Black Widow program is his. The Widows are part of his team. They're his ninjas."

Check it out below:

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"We get different people coming in from the Marvel Universe to enrich the character. It's gonna be very unexpected," Johansson said at SDCC 2019. "It will answer a lot of questions about where [Natasha] comes from, why and how she is the way that she is ... We do get to Budapest, though. Now we know that. I can say that."

"[She] is a great character who has a great heart, but a huge amount of shame; she's committed crimes that she feels are unforgivable," Shortland later told Empire Magazine in 2020. "How do you, in your life, make up for that? I think a lot of people relate to her story because she's not a perfect person. That's what we me hooked."

The movie also stars O-T Fagbenle (The Handmaid's Tale) and Olivier Richters (The King's Man). Its script was penned by Eric Pearson (Godzilla vs. Kong), based on a story by WandaVision showrunner Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby). While Pugh is set to reprise her role as Belova for the upcoming Hawkeye series on Disney+, Marvel Studios has yet to confirm how the two projects will connect.

Black Widow debuts July 9 with a simultaneous release in theaters and on Disney+ premiere access. Enter a web of fresh production stills in the gallery below...