It took “Black Widow” a long time to finally make it to the big screen, but it is has been well worth the wait.
Delayed by the pandemic after enduring production delays at Marvel Studios, the standalone Marvel movie for international super-spy Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) packs a wallop and takes the Marvel Cinematic Universe into some exciting new territory.
Natasha has been a player in the Marvel sandbox for over a decade, making her debut in “Iron Man 2” before becoming a founding member (and lone female) of the Avengers.
In spite of battling supervillains from all corners of the galaxy, Natasha was never given the chance to shine on her own and following her untimely demise in “Avengers: Endgame” (#spoilers) it seemed she never would.
“Black Widow” corrects that mistake by taking a trip back in time to the events between “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War” when Natasha was on her own and on the run.
We find Natasha in the middle of a reunion with her assigned Russian spy family. Papa Alexei (David Harbour) was also known as Red Guardian, the Soviet answer to Captain America. Mama Melina (Rachel Weisz) was a brilliant scientist and tactician. And little sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) was a sweet innocent until she was subjected to the same Black Widow training and conditioning as Natasha.
They are thrown back together when the salvation of an army of brainwashed, female, super-assassins is on the line.
Director Cate Shortland whisks us around the world from action-set-piece to action-set-piece with backdrops like Budapest, Norway and Siberia. Shortland also does an excellent job of keeping the dysfunctional family dynamic front and center which not only provides some laughs, but also gives the film its heart.
“Black Widow” is essentially Marvel’s version of a “Bourne” movie, complete with car chases, exotic locales and fistfights in tiny European apartments.
What’s also makes this movie stand out from the other Marvel films is that it’s not having to work to set up any subsequent movies or Marvel lore (with the slight exception of the upcoming Disney+ series “Hawkeye”) and it stands solidly on its own as a thrilling piece of entertainment.
While her own adventure and top-billing was more than overdue, it is exciting and satisfying to get to see Black Widow do what she does best, which is stick the landing.
“Black Widow” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence/action, some language and thematic material.