When Marvel dropped the first trailer for Avengers: Infinity War, people had some questions, like how is it possible that Captain America looks even better with a beard, and why did a certain character's hair change colors? Well, here's why Black Widow is blonde in Avengers: Infinity War, from the actor herself. Minor spoilers ahead.
Scarlett Johansson, who has played Natasha "Black Widow" Romanoff since Iron Man 2 in 2010, spoke with reporters on the Atlanta set of Infinity War. On the subject of Natasha's significant transformation, she revealed, "Joe and Anthony [Russo, the directors] wanted us to kind of feel like it had just been a period of time and we were both sort of kind of under the radar, just different, I think that red hair is a signature of Natasha."
Johansson continued, "They just wanted us to look different, and so for me, I thought, alright, well maybe I’ll give it a little wink and nod to the other widows’ kind of story that has been burned out."
So, the blonde has two meanings: (1) to indicate that time has passed in the Marvel universe, and (2) as a tribute to the other Black Widow characters of Marvel, who have not (and evidently, will not) have a place on screen. Fortunately, fans seem OK with Natasha's hair in Avengers: Infinity War — mostly.
As most Marvel fans know, Black Widow is more than one character. Though its most popular (and most famous) incarnation is in Russian Avenger Natasha Romanoff, Black Widow is more of a position than an individual. After Natasha, the most famous Black Widow character from the comic books is Yelena Belova, who looks a whole lot like Johansson's version of Black Widow if she were blonde. The on-screen Marvel universe differs from the comics — understandably — but some character arcs have been edited and condensed more than others. This is certainly the case for Black Widow, as fans of the Avengers movies (and not the comics) would never know there was more than one Natasha Romanoff type out there.
However, not every fan seems on board with Black Widow's new look. Hopefully, though, Johansson's explanation for the change will be enough to assuage their concerns. After all, it's not like the old Natasha can't come to the phone right now because she's dead; Johansson suggested the blonde herself in celebration. It's designed to honor the history of Black Widow, not diminish it.
Some Marvel fans are concerned about the blonde for exactly that reason, though — and more. Several saw it as an attempt to combine the characters of Black Widow and Mockingbird, and at least one redhead felt slighted by the loss of onscreen representation. If you consider yourself a Marvel fan and are confused by the upheaval surrounding Natasha's hair change, that's alright. Not everyone has to have a firm opinion on it. Plus, if the actor that has played her for eight years helped make the hair-dye call as a nod to the Black Widow-verse, maybe that should be the end of any debate.
What Johansson's quote also reveals is this: She's definitely the only Black Widow in Avengers: Infinity War. But whether it's a hint about the rumored Black Widow standalone film is less obvious. Variety reported that Marvel would be "moving ahead" with a Black Widow film in January, but that doesn't mean much, considering the project isn't officially greenlit by the studio (aka actually happening). Even if Entertainment Weekly reported a writer was attached to a Black Widow project. So, is Johansson getting an Avengers spinoff about Natasha Romanoff? And if so, does her blonde hair in Avengers: Infinity War mean that even in a Black Widow solo film, she's the lone Black Widow character?
As the Avengers: Infinity War release date inches closer, here's hoping Johansson drops those details, too.
Additional reporting by Rachel Simon.