When Iron Man first hit the theaters in 2008, casual movie-goers and comic book fans were in for a treat. Those that stayed behind throughout the credits were awarded a preview of what was to come once Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury stepped out of the shadow. Two years later, Scarlett Johannson’s Natasha Romanoff took the world’s heart, and after an entire decade, she finally stepped into a solo film for Black Widow.
After featuring in Iron Man 2 (2010), fans were eager to see more of the enigmatic Black Widow. Following Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, many expected to see the first solo movie featuring the heroine, only to find her featured with an ensemble in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the Avengers films. It wasn’t until the conclusion of Marvel’s Phase 3 that everyone’s favorite spy finally got the chance to shine. The only question is, was it worth the wait? The following may contain spoilers to those who have yet to see it.
Black Widow takes place shortly after the conclusion of Civil War and features Natasha Romanoff on the run. Its genesis adds a little more depth to her background, showing her youth spent with a surrogate family as a front for a mission. The film introduces the Red Guardian (David Harbour), Black Widow Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh). Once the mission is complete, they are each separated by the Red Room. Years later, Yelena can be seen following Melina and Natasha’s footsteps as a Black Widow but is released from the Red Room’s mind-controlling chemical agents with an antidote, prompting her to seek out her former sister for help.
With the Avengers divided after the Sokovia Accords, Romanoff has only one ally to turn to while biding her time, actively moving from one area to another. On the road, she is attacked by Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko), whose mission is to retrieve the antidote that Yelena secretly left in her car. After barely escaping, she makes her way to a safe house, running into Yelena. From there, the two plot to take down the Red Room and release the other Black Widows under their control. They seek out the Red Guardian and Melina to help them with their mission.
Although Black Widow is intended to have Scarlett Johansson under the spotlight, the ensemble’s chemistry truly shines in the film. David Harbour’s Red Guardian brings some much-needed humor in an otherwise dark film, while Florence Pugh continues to deliver a stellar performance following Midsommar and Little Women. Scarlett Johannson’s ninth and possibly final appearance as Black Widow is celebrated with her long-awaited solo film.
However, with other superheroine movies like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel (and even a Scarlet Witch series) released earlier than the pioneering Black Widow, the film falls short of anything too captivating. Marvel had already produced movies about mind-controlled soldiers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and a race to stop superhuman agents (Captain America: Civil War), leaving audiences watching Black Widow feeling a little underwhelmed. The biggest takeaways that the film offers are a consolation solo film for the beloved spy, an introduction to the new Black Widow in Yelena Belova, and one last adventure with Natasha Romanoff.