Black Widow review: Scarlett Johanson finally stars in her own stand-alone film

Illustration by Evan Koenigs | The Signal

After over a year of rescheduling and uncertainty surrounding the film, “Black Widow” has finally been released, marking Marvel’s plunge into Phase Four. Even before the major pushback of the film due to the ongoing pandemic, Natasha Romanoff had been put on the sidelines with no stand-alone film during the first three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While her predecessors such as Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America received several films enacting a franchise-based market. 

After years of complaints and backlash over the mistreatment of the character, she was finally greenlit for a solo film after her death in “Avengers: Endgame”. A movie-going experience unlike any Marvel film before it, “Black Widow” immerses audiences into a video game-like world prompted by tyrannical spy empires in a post “Captain America: Civil War” environment. Its story is so grounded in the exploration of its characters, yet too disassociated from traditional aspects of Marvel drama. “Black Widow” seeks to engage viewers with a new perspective on the genre, foreshadowing similar advances to come in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

The film looks at the events following “Civil War” as Natasha tracks down her dark past with her tactical relations to the Red Room and her arduous upbringing as an undercover spy in America. The movie does a great job of backtracking who Natasha truly is and allows the audience to actively see Natasha’s perspective on her choices in the movies prior to “Black Widow’s” release. 

We are first introduced to Natasha’s family of undercover spies living in America working for the Red Room. This angle intrigues viewers by forcing them on a tagalong journey as we follow the family into their dark past, which ultimately leads to the present day. The family unit is made up of some of the most pulverizing casting choices Marvels has produced in quite some time. Rachel Weisz, Florence Pugh, and David Harbor lead the dynamic opposite of Scarlett Johanson as Natasha Romanoff. Florence Pugh especially gave one of the most commanding and hilarious performances of the film. She truly enveloped herself within the character and added a sense of humor one might establish after years of interaction with the role.

I also found Rachel Weisz to be quite menacing with just her facials, imposing a sense of mystery and unpredictability for her character as she teeters the line between good and evil. Altogether the social dynamics presented between the initial family unit were very promising for viewers’ first interaction with their presence. Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Natasha’s sister, seems to have engraved herself deep within the Marvel timeline with an end credit scene solidifying her place within the lore. 

“Black Widow” seemingly edges itself into the slate of Marvel films that will flourish through the ages as a timeless female-led superhero film with dark undertones hinting at female representation and mistreatment. As much fun as it is exhilarating, this summer blockbuster is sure to amass viewers in theaters for a prolific experience, unlike any other Marvel property.