It has been over two years since the release of the last Marvel movie, after “Spider-Man: Far From Home” debuted in theatres in 2019. The follow-up to “Avengers: Endgame,” showed the world in the after the reverse of “the blip” and the death of Tony Stark, and the potential of Peter Parker stepping into the metal shoes of Iron Man. The end of “Phase 3” of Marvel’s Universe brought us tears and a fitting conclusion to the Infinity Saga, which took over a decade and nearly two dozen movies to tell.
Among the biggest shockers of “Endgame” was the loss of Scarlett Johansson’s character, Natasha Romanoff. Romanoff sacrificed herself in exchange for the Soul Stone on Vormir, allowing for Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton to return home to his family who had all been snapped away by Thanos. With the coming solo film for Romanoff, a lot of questions remained as to how this film would weave into the MCU universe.
While “technically” a Phase 4 movie, “Black Widow” would be better classified as a Phase 3.5 movie. It fits in the timeline for Phase 3, but sets up for a future in Phase 4.
**POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD**
When Captain Marvel debuted a few years back, many people were celebrating a female superhero, while ignoring Romanoff’s Black Widow which had joined the MCU several years previous in Iron Man 2. This movie is set in the timeline between “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” with Romanoff on the run from Thaddeus Ross after betraying Team Iron Man and covering for Captain America’s escape with the Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes.
Through this point in the MCU, little is known about Black Widow’s origins, aside from hints of former allegiances to the Soviet Union and her role as an assassin. Johansson’s character weaves seamlessly into this origin story drawing from her history with the Avengers, with numerous references to previous battles and missions. After an attack on her from a mysterious new enemy, Romanoff dives back into her “old life” as a way to track down the new threat. Her quest places her back in touch with numerous people from her prior life. Johansson’s portrayal is filled with laughs, emotions, and twists and turns. For those who have endured the long wait for the return on Marvel movies, this is for you.
Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova was a great addition to the MCU, adding some great dead-pan comedy, as well as a fantastic addition to the action of the movie. It certainly is unfortunate that we already know of Romanoff’s fate, as the chemistry between Pugh and Johansson is fantastic. David Harbour’s Alexei also brought many laughs, and his struggle throughout the movie seems genuine, between his glory days as the Red Guardian (the Soviet’s Captain America) and “father” to Romanoff and Belova. Rachel Weisz’s Melina seemed forced most of the time, which to me was more of a casting miscue than an issue with the script or the portrayal.
“Black Widow” is an action-packed, seamless addition to the MCU movies, and does a much better job of being inserted into the MCU timeline than did “Captain Marvel.” Additionally, it showcased Marvel’s first attempt of linking the MCU Television series like “Wandavision” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” While it certainly seemed a bit out of place (this movie should have been made 5 years ago, and definitely should have been made before “Captain Marvel”), it was entertaining and fun.
I’d give it a B+.
If you’ve been watching the MCU television series, stay for the after-credit scene!