In not entirely surprising news, Disney is starting to claim some of the shifting release calendar real estate in 2020 and 2021. Chief among its biggest moves is the revelation that the Mouse House has pushed Black Widow from its previous May 6 launch date to Nov. 6.
The announcement, which accompanies news of Mulan moving to July and Jungle Cruise being delayed a full year until summer 2021, has resulted in Marvel’s entire movie release calendar getting shifted and shaken. Indeed, the Nov. 6 release date that Black Widow moves to was previously staked out by fellow Marvel Studios effort, Eternals. That film, by extension, has moved from 2020 entirely and will now open on Feb. 12, 2021. This in turn has displaced Shang-Chi, which moved off the Valentine’s Day weekend window and is now opening on May 7, 2021. Thus Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has moved to November, which pushes Thor: Love and Thunder to Feb. 28, 2022. In fact, the only Marvel movie that hasn’t been displaced is Black Panther 2, which doesn’t drop until May 2022.
The news should be welcomed by Marvel fans in general, as well as Scarlett Johansson’s superspy turned superhero. It was always unlikely a major blockbuster like Black Widow would move to a streaming debut at this juncture in the industry, and by keeping it in 2020, Disney ensures fans will see what happened to Nat between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame without sacrificing the continuity of Marvel’s assembly line.
Additionally, Eternals remains the only other Marvel film production not egregiously affected by the coronavirus pandemic that’s drastically changing the world’s day-to-day life. It is highly unlikely that Shang-Chi could’ve made its February 2021 release date when the director was forced to go into self-isolation for two weeks after coming into contact with someone who had contracted COVID-19 (the disease caused by the novel coronavirus).
That was followed with Disney indefinitely shutting down work on all projects in production. Of course the pre-production process of Doctor Strange 2 is moving along steadily via remote telecommuting, and the film is still aiming to start filming by July, but given the currently escalating spread of coronavirus in the west, there is more than a small chance that this start date is likewise delayed.
Black Widow is of course the long overdue standalone superhero movie around Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, a Russian spy who became a superhero in The Avengers. One of the team’s founding members, Johansson and her on screen alter-ego have been part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since near its inception, first appearing in the third Marvel movie, 2010’s Iron Man 2. And yet, she never got her own movie until 2020—after her character had been killed off in the 24th MCU film. So it’s rewarding that she is finally getting her due… and hopefully it will stick in November.