Given Natasha Romanoff’s tragic death in Avengers: Endgame, there’s been a lot of questions over when exactly Black Widow is set. Marvel has previously confirmed that the majority of it will take place in the two-year gap between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, though the recent trailer revealed that there will be some significant flashbacks to the super-spy’s past, too. And possibly, also her future.
As pointed out by MCU Direct, amongst others, a document seen in one shot of the recent trailer is dated “January 14th, 2021.” Assuming this isn’t just a typographical error, it seemingly reveals that at least part of Black Widow will take place in the future. We expected it to fit in somewhere between 2016-2018, but now it seems there’ll be flash-forwards to several years later, too.
The date '14 January 2021' can be spotted on an official document in the new #BlackWidow trailer! This date could indicate the time period that part of the movie is set during, or it may simply be a future date with little to no meaning… pic.twitter.com/fbwj4XhyHY
— MCU Direct (@MCU_Direct) December 5, 2019
If you’re wondering how this could make sense in terms of the plot, consider the state of the MCU timeline by the point of Endgame. Though most MCU films’ settings have corresponded to the year they released, this changed with the Phase 3 closer as it jumped forward five years into the future, meaning that the new present-day of the franchise is 2023.
What this document could tell us, then, is that the story of Black Widow will be spread across multiple years. Perhaps Nat first catches up with her old “family” – Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova, Rachel Weisz’s Melina and David Harbour’s Alexei Shostakov – around 2017, say, and then meets them again in 2021, two years before she sacrifices herself on Vormir.
This would be a neat way of tackling the film’s narrative. It would cleverly link both spaces in the MCU where we don’t know what Nat got up to by revealing that she was actually doing some solo hero business away from the Avengers during these periods. Again, though, the MCU does occasionally make these dating mistakes – see Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s “eight years later” debacle – so it could be nothing. If you ask us, though, there’s a good chance that it offers us a clue at how Black Widow‘s going to tie the MCU timeline together.