By Rollo Ross
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – After numerous delays because of the global pandemic, Marvel’s Black Widow takes center stage in a new movie that debuts Friday and delves into the past of the Avengers character played by Scarlett Johansson.
The actress reprises the role for the ninth time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even though Black Widow died in 2019 blockbuster “Avengers: Endgame.”
The new “Black Widow” film will be available in theaters and for a $30 fee through Walt Disney Co’s Disney+ streaming service. It previously had been scheduled to debut exclusively in cinemas in May 2020.
The film is a prequel set after the events of the 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War.” It catches up with former assassin Natasha Romanoff as she is on the run from government agents.
Johansson said it is likely this will be the last time she portrays the character.
“I think it’s always great to leave on a high note,” the actress said in an interview. “You’ve got to set it free. It’s part of the journey when you know it’s come to an end.”
The movie begins when Romanoff is handed a box of mail left at a previous apartment. Because of the contents, she unwittingly becomes the target of the mysterious Taskmaster as well as an army of women known as Widows.
“Stranger Things” actor David Harbour plays Romanoff’s father and Rachel Weisz co-stars as her mother. Florence Pugh portrays her sister, Yelena, who often pokes fun at the Black Widow and her fellow Avengers.
“I hope I made people laugh,” Pugh said. “The bluntness of me being just outrageously harsh to Natasha may have been funny, but I definitely smirked when the whole family got involved. They all shared the same sense of humor and timing. That was just perfect.”
Harbour plays an atypical superhero who is out of shape and struggles to fit in his superhero outfit.
“When (director) Cate (Shortland) pitched the character to me, it was him at the end of his life with all this regret and remorse and just this past his prime thing,” Harbour said. “I was like that’s fun and I’ll be able to sit around and eat doughnuts all day. It’ll be fantastic.”
(Reporting by Rollo Ross; Writing by Lisa Richwine; editing by Diane Craft)