After many delays, the long awaited Black Widow film is finally arriving in theaters and on Disney+ this July. The first film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4 gives Natasha Romanoff her first solo outing. Taking place shortly after the events of Captain America: Civil War the film explores Natasha’s past and the struggles she encountered prior to becoming an Avenger.
Disney has been setting out to give many of its side characters their own solo outings with Disney+ series like WandaVision, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and Loki. But luckily they were smart enough to give this long time Avenger her very own feature film. It’s just a shame that it took them so long to do so.
Natasha proves worthy of the solo treatment and Scarlett Johansson feels more comfortable and natural in the role than ever. However, it’s Florence Pugh as Yelena and David Harbour as Alexei who steal the show and make this film feel larger than life. David Harbour, best known for playing Jim Hopper on the hit Netflix series Stranger Things, brings an overbearing, buffooning charm to Russia’s first and only super soldier, “The Red Guardian.” And academy award nominated actress Florence Pugh proves that the younger and less experienced Yelena could have a place of her own in the MCU.
From the film’s action packed opening moments, it keeps the adrenaline pumping. In fact, Black Widow may be one of the MCU’s most action centered solo films. While some of the action is better than others, there is no denying that this film sets out to give fans what they want: Fists, kicks and bullets. Lots of them. In between the flurry of punches and gunshots we learn more about Natasha’s upbringing and how she came to be the headstrong assassin the fandom has come to love.
Black Widow certainly adds another level of depth to the character’s sacrifice in Avengers: End Game. Fans were quick to point out that all of the glory and mourning was centralized on Tony Stark and the loss of Natasha felt like a side note. If only Black Widow had been released before her death, that would likely not have been the case.
Its safe to say that the original Iron Man and Captain America: The Winter Soldier still securely hold their place at the top of MCU solo films; however, Black Widow fits in nicely somewhere in the upper half of the category. The first half of Black Widow is some of the best Marvel and Disney have put out in years. Unfortunately the film begins to dip in the second half. Not drastically, but enough to keep the film from reaching the heights that the first hour had promised. The story telling begins to get a bit lazy and over reliant on exposition to drive the plot forward. Clichés are to be expected, especially with this type of film, but the climax leans heavily into predictable and worn out territory.
But perhaps the biggest flaw of the film is its missed opportunities with some of its new characters. As the film came to an end I found myself wondering why I never got to see The Red Guardian fully unleash and be the powerhouse I’m sure he could be. The film’s primary villain is Task Master. A seemingly robotic soldier with the abilities to mimic the styles of any fighter they encounter. The concept is strong and makes for some amazing moments of combat; however, these abilities and maneuvers are never really explored and the climactic “WOW” moment I was anticipating never happened.
Fans have been waiting a long time for Black Widow and so the question is, “Is it worth the wait?” The answer is an enthusiastic YES! The film finally gives Scarlett Johansson the chance to give Natasha the story she deserved. She earned her place as an Avenger long ago and this movie does the character justice, proving that she is more than just a second rate hero. 7.5/10