After a delay lasting 19 months; the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has returned to the big screen with “Black Widow”. The film takes place between “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War”; audiences get more of the backstory of Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), as we are introduced to her early life before the Red Room.
This is not to say that the film is an origin story as it uses her backstory through a clever introduction that establishes her “family” as sleeper agents in Ohio before they escape and she and her cover sister are tuned over for conditioning and training.
Since Natasha is on the run from the authorities; she finds a remote location in Norway to bide her time. This does not last as a dangerous adversary known as the Taskmaster arrives and sets a chain of events into motion.
Natasha has been sent a package from her cover sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) who also went through the Red Room and became a top assassin in the years since she and Natasha last saw one another.
Despite her mixed feelings; Natasha ventures to Budapest and confronts Yelena who in turn reveals the package she sent her contains a compound that can free the other Black Widows from the control of the Red Room which despite Natasha’s insistence is still very much alive as is the head of the institute which she is convinced she killed long ago.
With Taskmaster and other Widows hot on their trail, Natasha and Yelena are forced to seek the help of their former “Father” the imprisoned hero Red Guardian (David Harbour), and their cover Mother Melina (Rachel Weisz), to find the location of the new Red Room; free the Widows, and end the program once and for all.
What follows is an engaging story with solid action and effects that remains at its core a character story as Natasha attempts to reconcile her cover family with her new Avengers family and the pain of her upbringing and conditioning.
Marvel resisted calls from some to release the film on Disney+ last year when the Pandemic caused multiple delays to the planned release dates. This decision to me was very wise as this is a film that needs to be seen and heard on the big screen as it is an experience that is best experienced in a cinema with others.
While many attempts were made over the decades to adapt comic heroes to film and television; most of them came up lacking and disappointed fans of the source material. Marvel for over a decade has continued to succeed as they have a clear plan, cast well, and have engaging characters that develop over time.
“Black Widow” fills in a missing gap of time in the MCU well and also sets up future adventures as a scene in the credits clearly links two of the live-action Disney+ series and shows that the long-term plan for the MCU continues and incorporates the film and television series well.
From the moment the Marvel intro and music appeared on the screen until the very end; “Black Widow” was a very enjoyable and engaging blockbuster adventure that shows Marvel at the top of their game; and why they continue to set event-level movies not to miss.
4 stars out of 5