After 10 years of waiting and three COVID-caused delays, Black Widow finally hit theaters- and Disney+– on July 9, 2021. Since her first appearance in 2010’s Iron Man 2, Natasha Romanoff (AKA Black Widow) became an instant favorite Avenger to many- especially young girls, like myself at the time, who had only her to look up to in the team of heroes.The anxious anticipation felt by fans everywhere built up every time the premiere was pushed back, and it surely didn’t disappoint; garnering an 80% score on Rotten Tomatoes and $210 million via all platforms.
Black Widow picks up where 2016’s Captain America: Civil War left off and right before Avengers: Infinity War began. Nat is on the run as a result of the events of Civil War and is forced to confront her past as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake before she became an Avenger.
The film’s opening credits are the best of any Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film yet. The incredibly powerful sequence is one of the most devastating, heartbreaking parts of the movie, showcasing the young girls being stripped of their freedom and taken to the Red Room as Malia J’s chilling cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” plays. It’s a real-world parallel of sex trafficking and perhaps the darkest Marvel has gone- it gave me chills.
Without spoiling anything, this film was incredible. Between the stellar cast (read: Florence Pugh, David Harbour, and Rachel Weisz), amazing little/big sister chemistry between Pugh and Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff herself) and beautiful score- not to mention the intricate braids and ponytails I’ve already spent too much time learning how to do- Black Widow is a hit. It separates Nat from the Avengers and shows her as her own person, which is something we’ve never seen. Audiences have been offered bits and pieces of Nat’s backstory as a product of the top-secret Soviet training and brainwashing program known as the Red Room, but they’ve been breadcrumbed throughout films about the men around her.
Granted, it’s far too many years late, but, in many ways, Black Widow humanizes Natasha Romanoff. Focusing on the abuse of power by men, it shows just how far Nat will go for the people she loves (giving some reason to her fatal decision in Avengers: Endgame, which garnered plenty of angry reactions). Yelena Belova (portrayed by Pugh), Nat’s younger sister, even snarks about her infamous Black Widow landing pose (you know the one; the butt out, one hand down, would-shatter-your-bones-upon-impact-in-reality one)- which is one of the many ways Black Widow has been sexualized.
Even though it has its flaws (it stuck in my mind that Nat’s Endgame decision was based on the fact that she “has no family,” when this film proves that to be very much incorrect), Black Widow is a must-watch. It’s a send-off for a beloved hero who was initially given one of the worst endings in the MCU and a passing of the Black Widow baton to Yelena- and I, personally, can’t wait to see what she does with it.