Marvel’s Phase 4 theatrical run has officially begun. After a year of pandemic delays, Black Widow has finally been unleashed upon the world.
Set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, it’s the perfect final puzzle piece to the story of one of Marvel’s most beloved heroes and member of the Original 6, Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow. While this film is long overdue, even before the pandemic delays, it was absolutely worth the wait, as it brings Natasha to life in ways the ensemble films lacked the time to do. And yes, it answers many questions that have plagued Marvel fans for over a decade since her debut in 2010’s Iron Man 2.
As an avid Marvel fan, this film checked every box I had and more. Over the years, there are certain aspects viewers have come to expect from the films — humor, action, suspense — and Black Widow is the perfect culmination of everything that makes Marvel so good at what they do. I gasped, cried, and laughed, sometimes one shortly after the other. It dives deep into the character, drawing out new sides to her I’d been hoping to see, all while maintaining a level of suspense that I wasn’t expecting.
Phase 4 is seemingly aiming to take its content to darker levels, and this film continues that trend. But through the dark, heavy content that goes hand-in-hand with Natasha’s backstory, the comedy and camaraderie mixed in is a perfect blend to soothe the aching wounds it leaves in its wake. This is certainly one of Marvel’s heaviest projects to date, and it leaves Natasha all for the better as the final scene fades to black.
Looking back on Natasha’s previous appearances holds so much more weight after seeing her origins, her history, and her heart. A heart that stayed with her despite the cruelty she’s endured. Black Widow may be a revenge-thriller on the surface, but beneath its suspense and action lies that deeper understanding of Natasha we’ve all been waiting for.
Scarlett Johansson is at her best despite exceeding 10 years of suiting up as the Black Widow. This is deeper than she’s ever had to reach into the psyche of Natasha, and she pulls out the most stunning, shattered pieces to build an entirely new work of art. She finally takes the center stage and she owns it, proving that Natasha has belonged there all along.
However, the breakout star is undoubtedly Florence Pugh’s Yelena Bolova. While there is no mistake that this is Natasha’s story, Yelena is the perfect opposite to Natasha. It’s impossible not to fall into their easy repartee, and even moreso to deny the charm of Pugh’s Yelena, who we can only hope is here to stay.
It may be bold to say, but Black Widow is one of Marvel’s strongest solo films. In Natasha’s case, I think her having such a rich and established MCU career only helped her solo story. There was no need for introductions, instead it gave the creators room to explore the more tragic and profound aspects of this character. Her death is granted the meaning Avengers: Endgame denied her as we explored what likely went through her mind as she sat in contemplation on Vormir, along with the things that are most important to her as not only an Avenger, but a human being.
Don’t let the allure of the home rental sway you. If health and safety precautions allow, see it in the theater. The high-stakes action sequences and the stunning fight choreography deserve the big screen, and paired with the impeccable musical score, it makes this a theater must-see. There’s Easter eggs galore for comic and MCU fans alike to disentangle as well.
Also, do not skip the post-credits scene for this one!