As the beginning of Phase Four’s theatrical rollout and Scarlett Johansson’s goodbye to the character that’s defined her life for over a decade, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Widow had an awful lot to accomplish in the space of 134 minutes.
It had to bring the most successful film franchise in the history of cinema back in front of audiences with a bang, tell a self-contained story that kept fans engaged even though they knew Natasha’s ultimate fate, expand the mythology surrounding the Red Room and its various major players, all while laying the foundations for the future by introducing several major new characters, set the stage for Disney Plus series Hawkeye and establish Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova as an in-canon force to be reckoned with.
For the most part, director Cate Shortland and her team pulled it off, and Black Widow even avoid one of the MCU’s longest-running in-jokes for good measure. The prequel takes place immediately after the events of Captain America: Civil War, and the appearance of William Hurt’s General Ross in the very first scene makes it clear the government are still hunting Natasha.
Typically, when somebody is either undercover or on the run in the MCU, they tend to opt for a simple sunglasses and baseball cap combination. Over the years we’ve seen Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson, Bucky Barnes and even Natasha herself try to blend in using exactly the same method, while Scott Lang openly mocked it in an Ant-Man joke.
You’d imagine Kevin Feige would be well aware of the memes by now, so it was no doubt a deliberate decision to have Black Widow‘s titular fugitive make a conscious decision to avoid leaning into the well-worn trope.