There are few film IPs that have a bigger pull for audiences to head back to the theaters than the MCU. Despite this fact, a lot of people have been talking Black Widow (2021) down since it was delayed last year due to the pandemic. However, Marvel rarely gives us a complete stinker, even with their misses – so it was safe to assume at least a passable blockbuster. Ultimately, many MCU fans will leave pleasantly surprised with the quality of film Black Widow is, and what is possibly the best new character recently introduced in the MCU, and the star power behind her.
Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), on the run after the events of Captain America Civil War (2016), finds herself having to face demons from her troubled past. Finding out that her sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) is on the run and in need of help, Natasha steels herself for an enemy she thought long taken care of.
Pugh is a tremendous actress. Not exactly the hottest of takes, especially if you’ve read my reviews of her other films – but she brings so much to every project that it is impossible not to be impressed. Yelena’s quips and confidence make her an immediately loveable character in a franchise full of such characters. For me, I was immediately hoping for a spin-off series, or a new film featuring Yelena. Pugh not only manages to bring an abundance of fun to this film, but she also succeeds in delivering some of the best emotional moments.
That’s not to say Johansson doesn’t continue to own this performance. The duo of her and Yelena are great, but Johansson brings a wealth of charm to her character. It is unfortunate that this film had not come earlier, rather than having to shoot it as a prequel (especially if you have seen Avengers: Endgame…everyone has seen that…right???). Still, this movie is a solid entry, despite it being mostly unnecessary to the bigger picture of the MCU. These smaller stories for the characters fans love are often more enjoyable for that reason.
Black Widow was a pleasant time at the cinema. The MCU has only a few missteps – and lately, they’ve been on cruise control. While these films may feel formulaic (even when they start to do hybrid genres), it’s the performances that this franchise keeps getting that make the films stand out. The actors seem to be invested in these roles and they bring so much to the performances. Black Widow gets the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.