Black Widow is a 2021 superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name and stars Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Ray Winstone and Rachel Weisz. The film was released on July 9th and is available to watch in cinemas or via Disney+ with Premier Access.
Black Widow is the 24th film within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and plugs the gaps on where her character has been between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. The film sees Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) on the run as she deals with her history as a spy and the broken relationships of her past. If you’ve not watched Captain America: Civil War recently, it will take a few minutes to get your head around where the film sits within the MCU timeline, but the film is essentially a standalone story meaning it’s not strictly a necessity to watch any other films within the MCU.
The film begins as a bit of an origin story, with the film following a young Natasha and her family in the mid 90s. The opening scenes provide for a bit of a prologue and they provide a great deal of context for the remainder of the film. The film’s opening credits do a fantastic job at setting the dark tone to the film and I’d argue that they provide one of the best openings of any Marvel film released to date. The way in which they manage to encapsulate and convey Natasha’s sinister upbringing makes Black Widow feel like much more of a mature Marvel film than we are used to seeing.
The majority of the film follows Natasha shortly after the events of Captain America: Civil War, as she is haunted by the ghosts of her past. The first two thirds to the film are engaging, entertaining and serve as an all-round fantastic combination of a Black Widow origin story and an exciting action movie. The final third however has a completely different shift in pace, originality and thrill. Whilst there are a few twists and turns in the latter stages of the film which I certainly didn’t see coming, I did feel a bit disappointed with the climax, particularly given how much I’d enjoyed the previous two acts.
Scarlett Johansson reprises her role the titular character and as always, she brings so much personality and charm to Natasha Romanoff. Given we’d only seen snapshots of her characters’ past in various MCU movies, it felt right that we were getting a Black Widow origin story which cleverly intertwines with what we already knew about her. I was expecting the film to look more into the characters’ youth and development into becoming a spy, but instead the film essentially plugs in the gaps and I really enjoyed this logical approach.
Florence Pugh plays Natasha’s sister Yelena Belova and her role within the film makes Black Widow very much feel like a coming of age story for her character. Her character brings a combination of comic relief as well as bad-assery to proceedings and Florence Pugh’s performance as the character was truly one of the highlights of the movie. Towards the end of the film, there was definitely a sense of ‘handing over the baton’ from Scarlett Johannsson’s character to Florence Pugh’s and I can’t wait to see more of her in the MCU.
Ray Winstone plays Dreykov, the main antagonist in the film and the man responsible for the majority of Natasha’s trauma as a youngster. He’s not one of the most fearsome villains to ever grace the MCU, however I did enjoy his backstory, particularly with how it was woven into the brilliant opening credits. However, I was greatly disappointed with one of the films other key antagonists, Taskmaster. Taskmaster is one of the most iconic figures in the Marvel Comics but for a character with so much potential, the film really fails to delve beyond the surface of the character.
The action sequences throughout Black Widow are some of the best in recent Marvel memory! A lot of the fight sequences in the film focus on hand to hand combat and I was blown away by some of the choreography of these sequences. One of the most notable was a fight scene between Black Widow and Taskmaster which featured some stunning edge-of-your-seat action. Despite the lack of depth to Taskmaster, the characters ability to mimic her opponent’s fighting style provided for some fantastic subtle nods and references to other superheroes such as Captain America and Black Panther.
Overall, Black Widow is a hugely fun movie! Its fantastic fight scenes and explosive action sometimes makes it feel like more of an action movie rather than a superhero movie, but this is a refreshing change from the usual Marvel content. Black Widow serves as a more than sufficient origin story for the unique character of Natasha Romanoff and I have no doubt that watching it back in chronological order within the MCU will add to the enjoyment!
With stunning hand to hand combat sequences, fine performances from Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh and a cleverly interwoven origin story, Black Widow is an entertaining tribute to one of Marvel’s most mysterious Avengers.