Natasha Romanoff (the Black Widow), was the first female Super Hero and my favorite Avenger. I’ve no idea why it took so long for a film to focus on Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) and her intriguing history, but oh well, better way late than never. Marvel Studios’ new film takes viewers on a fascinating look back to Natasha’s origin story.
We first meet Natasha during her childhood in rural Ohio, where she’s the supposed daughter of Alexei/The Red Guardian (David Harbour) and Melina (Rachel Weisz), and big sister to Yelena (Florence Pugh). When the family is exposed as members of a Russian spy cell (reminiscent of “The Americans” TV series), the sisters are sent to train as highly skilled assassins, or Black Widows, by the villainous Master Spy Dreykov (Ray Winstone).
The film’s action takes place after MCU’s “Captain America: Civil War” and (obviously) before “Avengers: Endgame,” since fans well remember Natasha’s noble sacrifice in that film. It’s been 20 years since Natasha saw any of her pretend family members, but they reconnect when Yelena shares an important discovery.
Black Widow Director
“Black Widow” director Cate Shortland delivers the kind of action fans of this genre expect. Exciting sequences include amazing aeronautical and space adventures; killer tanks chasing motorcycles and cars; Russian prison breaks; an avalanche; and lots and lots of explosions.
The film also delivers enough dialogue to help us understand why Natasha and her “family members” took the actions they did. I have to admit several of these scenes brought tears to my eyes. Scarlett Johansson is just as terrific as we remembered as the Black Widow, and her performance is a reminder of just how much we’ll miss her.
But her three co-stars—especially Florence Pugh as Yelena—are also great. Pugh has a deft comic touch that plays well in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and “little sister” looks a likely candidate to take the Black Widow’s place in future sagas.
“Black Widow” opens wide in theaters and also streaming on Disney + July 9. Directed by Cate Shortland and produced by kevin Feige, the film is written by Eric Pearson from a story by Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson. Rated PG-13 for some language/intense violence/action/thematic material), the film runs 2 hours 13 minutes, and is produced by Marvel Studios.
Be sure to stay through the closing credits to catch a glimpse of what the future may hold for the Black Widow.