After a 19 month delay, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) returns to the big screen with Black Widow.
The film is set between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War; audiences get more of the backstory of Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), as we are introduced to her early life before the Red Room.
This is not to say that the film is an origin story. It uses her backstory through a clever introduction that establishes her “family” as sleeper agents in Ohio before they escape and she and her cover sister are turned over for conditioning and training.
Since Natasha is on the run from the authorities, she finds a remote location in Norway to bide her time. This does not last, as a dangerous adversary known as the Taskmaster arrives and sets a chain of events into motion.
Natasha has been sent a package from her cover sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) who also went through the Red Room and became a top assassin in the years since she and Natasha last saw one another.
Despite her mixed feelings, Natasha ventures to Budapest and confronts Yelena who in turn reveals the package she sent her contains a compound that can free the other Black Widows from the control of the Red Room which despite Natasha’s insistence is still very much alive as is the head of the institute which she is convinced she killed long ago.
With Taskmaster and other Widows hot on their trail, Natasha and Yelena are forced to seek the help of their former “Father” the imprisoned hero Red Guardian (David Harbour), and their cover Mother Melina (Rachel Weisz), to find the location of the new Red Room, free the Widows, and end the program once and for all.
What follows is an engaging story with solid action and effects that remains at its core a character story as Natasha attempts to reconcile her cover family with her new Avengers family and the pain of her upbringing and conditioning.
Marvel resisted calls from some to release the film on Disney+ last year when the Pandemic caused multiple delays to the planned release dates. This decision, to me, was very wise. This is a film that needs to be seen and heard on the big screen as an experience best shared in a cinema with others.
While many attempts were made over the decades to adapt comic heroes to film and television, most came up lacking, disappointing fans of the source material. Marvel, for over a decade, continues to succeed thanks to their clear plan, good casting, and engaging characters that evolve over time.
Black Widow fills in a missing gap of time in the MCU, and sets up future adventures as a scene in the credits clearly linking two of the live-action Disney+ series. This demonstrates that the long-term plan for the MCU continues and incorporates the film and television series well.
From the moment the Marvel intro and music appeared on the screen until the very end, Black Widow was a very enjoyable and engaging blockbuster adventure, showing Marvel at the top of their game.
Gareth is the mastermind behind the popular pop media site Skewed and Reviewed. He lives in Arizona with his wife Em McBride.