They're both Russian women forced to become spies at a young age alongside other girls. They're each deadly, smart and resourceful, and they know ballet. One is a comic book character, the other a book character, and yet, the director of the upcoming film Red Sparrow doesn't quite understand comparisons to Marvel's Black Widow.
Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow. Image: Fox
Even though they're also both named after a colour and animal.
"There [are] people who think it's very similar to the Black Widow story," director Francis Lawrence told Screenrant. But the director, who previously worked with star Jennifer Lawrence (no relation) on The Hunger Games franchise, insists Red Sparrow is its own, unique tale. He continued, "This is not pulled from Black Widow, this is pulled from Red Sparrow. [Red Sparrow was] written by a guy who was in the CIA. His references are coming from a very very different place [than Black Widow]."
While yes, it's technically true Red Sparrow is based on the novel by Jason Matthews, comparisons between the projects are easy to gather.
"But there'll always be that," Lawrence added. "People like to put things in boxes, and I think is a really unique film. This is a thriller, it's not action, again it's not gadgety. It's a hard-R. There's violence, it's a bit perverse, it's suspenseful, a lot of intrigue. It's a very different kind of spy film."
Lawrence is certainly right in a few aspects. A Black Widow movie, whenever it happens, won't be R-rated. And obviously, he's seen his movie and we haven't. But to pigeonhole Black Widow as a straightforward, gadget-based action character is a little short-sighted. Sure, she's a character who thrives on action and uses technology, but she isn't quite "gadgety". There's a much more complex character beneath that - a glance at Mark Waid and Chris Samnee's recent solo series for the character would easily prove that - which many Marvel comics have explored in a very thriller-like way. It's safe to say, if the trailers for Red Sparrow are a complete picture of the film, the comparisons to Black Widow won't be going away any time soon.
Red Sparrow, which stars Jennifer Lawrence, opens March 1.