Black Widow’s Third Act Is an Ongoing MCU Problem

In talking with the Happy Sad Confused podcast in an interview that was conducted prior to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, David Harbour revealed that Black Widow’s “entire third act was reworked as we [they] shooting.”

The Stranger Things and Gran Turismo star shared this info while discussing Thunderbolts, a Phase 5 ensemble film that reunites Harbour’s Red Guardian with Black Widow co-star Florence Pugh alongside a number of other MCU antiheroes.

When asked about the script and the film’s status, Harbour shared that Marvel will “rework stuff. Even big productions,” including Black Widow whose “entire third act was reworked as we [they] shooting…”

“Yeah, I mean, we were, I think, gonna go and then I think they did want the opportunity to change some stuff. The interesting thing about Marvel that’s so great about them is they do rework stuff. Even big productions. Like ‘Black Widow,’ the entire third act was reworked as we were shooting, which is incredible. And so, they just want that freedom. “

Following the 2021 film’s release, critics and audiences alike felt its third act was “a finale that no part of this movie built up to.”

Instead of fully paying off the core emotional family narrative, Black Widow opted for a CGI-fest amidst falling wreckage.

What made it worse and even less believable was that it was a superhero action sequence featuring characters without high-tech suits or superpowers.

The fact that Black Widow was shooting while the ending was retooled explains this end result and why critics described the film as “a missed opportunity.”

But in regard to David Harbour’s own MCU return, he feels the Thunderbolts script “is really tight and really great” while also, again, noting that Marvel wants “freedom:”

“The script we have is really tight and really great. And our director, Jake [Schreier], thinks it’s great. But they just want the freedom. They don’t want to be stuck in the middle of a shoot and then having to go like, ’We can’t rewrite this.”

Black Widow’s Third Act Is an Ongoing MCU Problem

While Black Widow takes place during the Infinity Saga, its third-act issues have unfortunately become the norm within the current MCU.

In addition, a 2023 report claimed Marvel Studios intentionally hires directors with no action or VFX experience to maintain creative control, saying, directors “don’t direct the movies; (Marvel) directs the movies.”

While this may vary, it does explain why Black Widow’s third act was disjointed and supports Harbour’s comments about Marvel’s preference for “freedom” and how the ending was “reworked as we [they] shooting.”

Given the underwhelming state of the MCU right now, fans are hopeful this system will change.

Not only is it producing lesser films and cheapening the brand, but it’s a disservice to its characters that can’t be undone.

Looking back, Black Widow may be the best example of this studio mistake.

Throughout the Infinity Saga, Natasha Romanoff’s humanity, both personally and in battle, is what made her great.

But for her character’s final on-screen act, her own film forced her into a mould that wasn’t her own, opting for tropes.

Since fans are unlikely to ever see Johansson as Black Widow again, it makes Marvel’s suspected handling of the ending all the more frustrating.

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