The Reel Review
This is the VERY long-awaited origin story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Widow, tracing her history as a Russian spy and examining the broken relationships left in her wake before she became an Avenger. This first movie of Phase 4 of the MCU is set between 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and 2018’s iconic Avengers: Infinity War.
Black Widow is a spectacle – a grittier, more emotional, story-driven installment in the Marvel franchise, while retaining all of the over the top visual effects associated with the Marvel films. It has a plot that borrows heavily from The Bourne Identity and a style very reminiscent of the James Bond films. Scarlett Johansson is impressive carrying the emotional weight of the film as the vengeance-minded Black Widow, with Florence Pugh more than holding her own as the even more jaded and emotionally hurt younger sister. The addition of double Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz (The Favourite, The Constant Gardener) and David Harbour (Stranger Things) injects welcomed humor into the (spy) family affair.
With its more mature, twist-filled story, incredible visual effects and fight sequences, and non-stop action, Black Widow is THE blockbuster of the summer movie season. No other film will even come close. Australian director Cate Shortland (Berlin Syndrome, Lore) has assembled a truly impressive, epic Marvel installment. See it in theaters, preferably in 3D, and stay for the post end credits scene. Marvel is back and better than ever.
• Filmed in 2019, Black Widow originally was scheduled for release on May 1st, 2020, but was delayed multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Florence Pugh beat out an impressive array of actresses to win the role of Black Widow‘s younger sister, Yelena Belova, among them: her Little Women co-stars Emma Watson and Saoirse Ronan, Alice Englert and Dar Zuzovsky.
• Ironically, Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh were both 2019 Oscar nominees for Best Supporting Actress – Johansson for Jojo Rabbit and Pugh for Little Women. That Oscar went to Laura Dern for Marriage Story, which also starred Johansson, who lost the Best Actress Oscar to Renée Zellweger for Judy.