The idea — and fervent fan demand — of a Black Widow standalone film in the Marvel movie-verse has been around practically since Natasha Romanoff waltzed into the big picture in Iron Man 2. Marvel has always been quick to brush the character aside... until now, by saying they're "committed" to a Widow film.
Speaking to Deadline during a Q&A for Civil War, Kevin Feige responded to the potential for movies starring heroes only seen in team-up films like Hawkeye and Black Widow. But instead of the usual response that Marvel feels like these characters are best suited to team movies rather than solo outings, Feige said this:
We've announced the next nine movies, ten counting Civil War, through the end of 2019. Where we go beyond that are ongoing discussions that we'll focus on in the next few years because we have a lot to do before then. Of the characters that you've just mentioned I would say certainly the one creatively and emotionally that we are most committing to doing is Black Widow.
We think she's an amazing character. We think Scarlett Johansson's portrayal of her is amazing. She's a lead Avenger and has amazing stories in her own right to tell that we think would be fun to turn into a standalone franchise.
Now, let's be kind and rewind for a moment. He didn't say "Oh yes, Black Widow: Spy-apalooza is coming in 2023!" He only said that after the current, enormous slate of films over the next three years, Marvel is seriously considering a Black Widow movie. Marvel is "committing" to a Black Widow film, but it hasn't quite "committed" to it yet.
A shrunk-down Ant-Man could take a bigger step forward than that. But it's a step forward nonetheless, and still a much more positive answer than we usually get when this question surfaces. Maybe, just maybe, we can start really hoping to see Black Widow get her own film once the dust has settled on Phase 3.