Life & Culture

Film review: Black Widow

At last, the origin story we've been waiting for is here - and, says Linda Marric, it is genuinely thrilling


It's been two whole years since Spiderman: Far From Home was released, making it one of the longest stints in the MCU’s decade long history without a new instalment Marvel movie. Thankfully, Black Widow, the long awaited origin story of Natasha Romanoff (beautifully portrayed in the films by Scarlett Johansson) is soon to be released in cinemas and on Disney’s premium streaming service a few days later. 

Rachel Weisz, Florence Pugh and David Harbour also star in this action-packed, fast-paced and hugely entertaining offering from Aussie director Cate Shortland (Somersault, Lore, Berlin Syndrome). With a story from WandaVision creator Jac Schaeffer and a screenplay courtesy of Eric Pearson (Thor: Ragnarok, Godzilla vs. Kong), Black Widow is the first Marvel standalone movie which genuinely feels like a new departure for the franchise which is currently easing itself into what is generally referred to as its “Phase Four”.

The story takes place right after the events of Captain America: Civil War. As the dust settles, Natasha finds herself alone and forced to confront Dreykov (Ray Winstone) the head of a secret organisation with ties to her past. Said past is finally unpacked in a flashback sequence which lifts the lid on what really happened to her as a child.

Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Little Women) makes a rather splendid entrance into the Marvel universe as Romanoff’s long lost sister Yelena. Elsewhere, Rachel Weisz is both funny and hugely likeable as doctor Melina Vostokoff, while David Harbour (Stranger Things) puts in a hilariously over the top performance as Alexei Shostakov, AKA The Red Guardian.

Too often superhero movies have tended to rely on dragged-out fight sequences which don’t always add to the story. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Black Widow is its ability to be very original whilst being as thrilling and as action-packed as every other other MCU movie before it.

Shortland and her writing team have given us a film that is more ingrained in the spy movie genre than the usual superhero fodder. With frequent nods to classic Bond movies and fast-paced spy thrillers such as the Bourne franchise, Black Widow is both engaging and genuinely thrilling. Additionally there are also some playful nods to the Star Wars franchise - that other Disney juggernaut - throughout thanks to Clint Wallace and Charles Wood’s exquisite production design.

This is a genuinely thrilling, funny and wonderfully acted origin story about a much loved heroine, even if deep down it feels more like a goodbye to one character and an introduction to a new one.

Black Widow is in cinemas from July 7, order it on Disney+ with Premier Access from July 9. 

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