Amagansett’s Scarlett Johansson surprised fans by shedding her classic red locks in favor of a new blonde ‘do in the Avengers: Infinity War trailer, but the hair change may be more than an updated look. Her new tresses could offer some clues about the standalone Black Widow film Marvel Studios recently commissioned Jac Schaeffer (Nasty Women, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure) to write.
Before getting into the nitty gritty: Yes, it’s true, Variety reported Wednesday that, while no release date has been announced, the Marvel Cinematic Universe juggernaut is finally moving ahead with a long awaited solo film featuring Johansson’s Black Widow at its center. The movie has not yet been greenlit, but Variety sources say Marvel President Kevin Feige spoke to several screenwriters before landing on Schaeffer. His team also met with Johansson to talk about their requirements for a Black Widow scribe. It’s quite possible choosing a woman to write was part of that discussion.
Johansson has played Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanova, in five MCU films before Infinity War, which opens May 4, but this newest turn as the Russian super spy is her first with blonde hair. Even before the Black Widow standalone was all but confirmed yesterday, the new hair color offered some astute comic fans (at least this reporter) a clue that Marvel was indeed exploring a separate story for the character.
Of course it’s also complete conjecture, and the hair could simply be a new look, which Marvel’s heroes tend to get from one film to the next. After all, Captain America wears a beard in Infinity War. However, for the sake of pure nerdiness and fun, why not delve into what the blonde mane could signify—especially with a Black Widow film on the horizon.
Natasha Romanova’s classic look has always been red hair, as seen in Johansson’s portrayal of her, but there’s another Black Widow in Marvel Comics canon who is very distinctly blonde. Enter Yelena Belova, Russia’s more than ample replacement for their erstwhile and now Americanized femme fatale.
In the 2001 Black Widow comics series “Breakdown,” penned by Queen & Country writer Greg Rucka, Belova is introduced as Romanova’s replacement, and the only candidate for the role to ever beat her predecessor’s scores. In an attempt to outfox her rival and get at some vital, world-saving information at the behest of S.H.I.E.L.D., Romanova undergoes a procedure to look exactly like Belova, while Belova is made to look identical to Romanova.
Is it possible Marvel is telling some version of this story? Could the blonde Black Widow fighting against Thanos—the evil, death-obsessed alien in Infinity War—actually be Belova, while the real Romanova is off saving the world from a more terrestrial villain? It’s quite possible Marvel Studios would keep Belova’s blonde hair color to clarify for audiences that Johansson is playing Belova. Meanwhile, the Belova character would be played by another actress with red hair—who’s actually Romanova in disguise—in the Black Widow film.
It’s a head scratcher, but not impossible. And given that Schaeffer was only recently assigned the script, answers won’t come for quite a while.
Still, when the time comes, we’re ready to say, “I told you so.”