“Black Widow,” released in theaters and on Disney Plus on July 9, is Marvel’s latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, known as the MCU, showing a never-before seen look into Natasha Romanoff’s heroic journey.
When fans last saw Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) or Black Widow, she bravely sacrificed her life in “Avengers: Endgame” to obtain the soul stone so that the Avengers could undo the damage of Thanos’ devastating snap that wiped out half of all life.
With the exception of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Vision’s (Paul Bettany) deaths in “Avengers: Infinity War,”and the many characters who disappeared during the Blip — another name for Thanos’ snap — her death was the first time Marvel fans experienced the major loss of a main character.
With the intense music and the fight over who would sacrifice themselves between her and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), or Hawkeye, it was an incredibly emotional tear-jerking scene. With “Black Widow,“ Marvel moves back in time as the movie takes place in between the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”
It begins with a flashback into Natasha’s childhood and then transitions into her run from the United States government for violating the Sokovia Accords, as seen in “Captain America: Civil War.”
While in hiding, she is rudely reminded of a piece of her past that she thought was gone forever, the Red Room. The Red Room is the Russain organization of militarized women, also known as black widows, where Natasha originally learned her many skills. Thinking she eliminated the leader and toppled the organization in the past, she learns that is not the case and goes on a mission to stop the organization once and for all.
From start to finish, the film is filled to the brim with incredible action scenes that have become characteristic of Natasha. There are many scenes with hand-to-hand combat, explosions, acrobatic antics and even some fancy flying and driving to keep pulses racing throughout.
But the real accomplishment of the movie is showcasing her character development since her introduction to the MCU.
Natasha was originally introduced in “Iron Man 2,” and while fans never saw much of the character’s life prior to becoming an Avenger and even before being a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, this movie blows that image out of the water, showing her as a multidimensional character dealing with guilt from her past as well as emotional trauma from essentially having her entire childhood and young adulthood stolen from her.
Johansson does an excellent job of showing viewers that bridge from where she started to how we know Natasha at the end of her story.
The main cast of characters create a familial bond together due to their relationships in the past and these relationships are strengthened through their individual developments as the movie progresses.
Florence Pugh, who has gained much popularity in recent years for starring in movies like “Midsommar,” plays Yelena Belova, Natasha’s non-biological sister. Yelena steals the show with her witty, mocking humor, tough exterior and independent strength.
She produces many of the movie’s biggest laughs and becomes the comedic relief from the second she hits the screen. She also experiences some emotional growth and feels like everyone’s little sister once the movie ends.
David Harbour, best known for his role as Jim Hopper in Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” plays a fight hungry Russian version of Captain America and father figure named Alexeii who, similarly to Pugh, provides many comedic moments and sees some emotional development by the end.
His counterpart as the “mother” of the group is Melina, played by Rachel Weisz who is best known for her role in “The Mummy.” Melina provides the scientific and mental planning side of the unit. She is tough, but very compassionate toward her group and this is obvious in the way the movie progresses.
The movie, however, shows a lack of insight into Natasha’s past. Obviously, the Red Room and the family unit are moments from her past, but that’s the extent of the background viewers get.
This origin story would have been a great addition earlier in the MCU’s history as it could have allowed viewers to form a stronger bond to the character before seeing her story end.
Overall, “Black Widow” is a very enjoyable conclusion to the hero’s end in the MCU as it offers the action, emotions and lovable characters that Marvel fans have come to expect.
Audiences can view “Black Widow” in theaters or on Disney Plus with Premium Access for $29.99.