Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Observer

‘Black Widow’ was worth the wait


After missing the original release date in May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Marvel fans anxiously awaited the release of “Black Widow” on big and small screens alike with the theatrical and Disney+ Premier Access releases on July 9, 2021. Boy oh boy, it was glorious.

Starring Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanov (aka. Black Widow), the film provides the spy-turned-superhero’s backstory Marvel fans had been guessing at since Johansson first appeared on screens in 2010 with the release of “Iron Man 2.” The film is set immediately after the events of “Captain America: Civil War.” It follows Romanov as she eludes government agents looking to arrest her and reunites with the “family” that the Red Room — a secret Russian agency — assigned her to play undercover with for two years when she was a tween. After facing the breakup of her adult family because of the Avenger infighting in “Civil War,” Romanov must now face her pre-superhero past while taking down the very organization that once trapped her and continues to use hundreds of young women.

To say that “Black Widow” is emotional is, I think, the understatement of the year. From the get-go, it is evident how much Romanov loves her “sister,” Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh). The scene in which she and Yelena catch fireflies while their “mother,” Melina (Rachel Weisz), explains bioluminescence is touching to watch, making it even more heartbreaking when that family gets broken up a mere ten minutes later. Malia J’s version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” backs the opening credits, which see young girls transported by Russian soldiers to their Red Room training; I still get goosebumps thinking about it. To go from warm and fuzzy firefly feelings to the utter horror of watching young girls get kidnapped — all before the opening credits roll — will hook any audience member, so hats off to director Cate Shortland.

The acting in this movie was superb. Each cast member embodied their character to the fullest. Johansson has played Natasha Romanov for over a decade at this point, but she brought a level of vulnerability to this film that audiences had never seen before, probably because those same audiences never actually knew much about her. Florence Pugh is amazing in all her movies, and “Black Widow” is no exception. She and her “father” Alexei (David Harbour) brought the comedy (yes, I still have “American Pie” stuck in my head after watching their duet) as one fully believes in their family and the other wants to protect his family while still looking for his past glory as Russia’s Red Guardian. But the most interesting character of the four might be Melina, who Weisz portrays as someone torn between their duty to the organization she has spent their life working for and a family she only had for two years.

“Black Widow” is a fascinating study on familial love, but it still has that Marvel action flare. The fight scenes in this film were different from any other Marvel flick, though, because they were unbelievably intricate and complex. When you look at all of the Avengers’ fighting styles, Black Widow is the most agile and clever. She’s the least likely to win a fight just by blowing something up or hitting someone really hard. As a result, this film’s fight scenes displayed a certain level of intelligence in the way they used the set to help our main characters. For example, there is one sequence where Natasha is literally fighting Russian agents while falling through the sky and navigating around falling debris. Who would have thought of that?

I would argue that this is one of the best Marvel movies ever made — and one of the most important. The Black Widow has been on Marvel fans’ screens since 2010, but it has taken a decade for her to get her own solo project. “Black Widow” finally gives the spotlight to Marvel’s most prominent female figure, and it does so in a way that acknowledges both her fierce, fighter side and her other, more vulnerable half. Visually exciting and emotionally driven, “Black Widow” takes us through the highs and lows of filial bonds and reminds us that our relationships are what give us our place in the world.


Title: “Black Widow”

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour

Director: Cate Shortland

Genre: Action/Adventure

If you like: Marvel Cinematic Universe

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5