The Marvel Cinematic Universe is by no means obligated to feature a love interest in every movie, but when it does happen, the character in question is usually relegated to the background and positioned as a damsel in distress with very little agency of their own. For every Pepper Potts or MJ, there’s a Betty Ross, Jane Foster or Christine Palmer, and one of the franchise’s most popular figures who definitely doesn’t require a romantic subplot to succeed is Black Widow.
Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff has largely remained a mystery wrapped in an enigma, with the series dropping only small hints of her backstory over the last decade, but it would be fair to say that Joss Whedon’s decision to introduce a potential romance between Natasha and Bruce Banner in Avengers: Age of Ultron divided opinion among the fans.
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Cate Shortland’s prequel looks to be focusing on family, but there’s still the mystery character being played by O-T Fagbenle that we don’t know much about. Most people believe the actor’s Rick Mason will ultimately be revealed as Taskmaster, but in a recent interview, the 40 year-old hinted that there might be a much different dynamic at play than the one audiences are expecting, and that there could be something more to Nat and Rick’s relationship.
“Mason is a finder for people who aren’t so affiliated with armies, like people who are part of the underworld. He can find anything you need as well. He’s had a relationship doing that work for the Black Widow, and they have a bit of a vibe going on. There’s a sense that there’s more to their relationship than it being purely work-related, so that’s always in the mix.”
As a solo movie ten years in the making, Black Widow comes burdened with high expectations, ones that will have reached fever pitch by the time it hits theaters next May a full twelve months behind schedule. The leading lady has already admitted that Natasha is a feminist and the story is all about the female characters, though, so it’ll be interesting to see if Fagbenle’s Mason is initially shoehorned into the plot as a love interest.