Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a drill. There’s a new a Marvel movie. Yes, a Marvel movie. The cloud of delayed cinematic releases caused by the global pandemic has begun to lift and Disney release a film of feature length, rather than another television series to quench the thirst of popcorn munching fans. It may or not may not be Scarlett Johansson’s last soiree in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Black Widow is the film that fans of the character have been crying out for these past 13 years.
Black Widow sits in a very particular position on the timeline – in phase three to be precise – and it’s not a prequel or an origin story for the deadly assassin and MCU fan favourite. Here, the habitual Avenger homelands of America are traded in for a more international adventure, travelling from Norway to Budapest and Russia, with beautiful cinematography following suit. With the relationships between the Avengers in pieces, Natasha is haunted by the ghosts of her past and the remnants of her family. With the help of sister figure Yelena (Florence Pugh), Red Guardian (David Harbour) and Melina (Rachel Weisz), Natasha must finish the war she started against General Dreykov (Ray Winstone) and his Red Room operation of brainwashed Black Widows.
This film as a whole is immensely fun, strikingly gritty and altogether superbly executed by a cast of convincing characters, all of whom possess their own intentions, past pain and ambitions. This is Johannsson’s chance to bring a more detailed backstory to a shadowed character, and she embraces it fully, bringing back the beloved charisma and fighting skills and combining them with a more emotional and tormented representation.
Florence Pugh is perfect as the deadly and humorous Yelena, stealing practically every scene, whilst also showing an onscreen sisterly bond like no other and using this relationship to deconstruct Natasha Romanov in an as yet unseen way. She will, without doubt, be a fantastic addition to the future of the MCU, and potentially a new heir to the fandom throne. Ray Winstone’s General Dreykov comes across a little too clichéd for a story with such dark undertones, but, notwithstanding a slightly questionable Russian accent, he proves a pleasingly slimy adversary for Natasha.
Even for a Marvel production, there is quite a heavy injection of CGI in almost every action sequence – even those that clearly would not have been subjected to such treatment in earlier offerings. Despite a conclusion that wraps up all too quickly, what makes Black Widow more unique to its predecessors is its James Bond-esque approach to the story, leaving most of the magic superhero powers at the door and focusing more on human wit, skill and psychological warfare. The pacing of the film doesn’t allow to viewer to breathe easily for a moment, perhaps creating an atmosphere not too different from what Natasha often experiences: never safe, never sure where the next danger may lie and rarely certain who she can trust. These elements make Black Widow a 134-minute joy ride, and if it is to be Johansson’s final outing in the franchise she can certainly be proud of her achievements and the legacy she has created.
Black Widow is released nationwide on 7th July 2021.
Watch the trailer for Black Widow here: