REVIEW: Black Widow Arrives Right On Time to Set Off the MCU\’s Fourth Phase


At this point, it would be tempting to say that Black Widow has arrived too late. Not only has COVID pushed its release from May 2020 to July 2021, but it feels like the character should have had her movie already. Natasha Romanov aka the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) has been in the MCU since 2010\’s Iron Man 2 and died in 2019\’s Avengers: Endgame. After the reality-altering events of that film, and the low-stakes coda of Spider-Man: Far From Home, the movie runs the risk of being an unnecessary outtake. 

Instead, Black Widow forges forward by opening up new possibilities for the MCU. 

Directed by Cate Shortland and written by Eric Pearson (story by Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson), Black Widow borrows the style of 90s thrillers. As a fugitive after the events of Civil War, Natasha escapes to a safehouse in Bucharest, where she reunites her sister Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh). Natasha and Yelena are both survivors of the Red Room, a Russian black-ops training program that transforms young girls into assassins called Black Widows. Upon learning that the newest generation of Widows is being mind-controlled by Red Room director Dreykov (Ray Winstone), Natasha and Yelena decide to take him down and spare young women from sharing their fate. 

The mission brings them back into the lives of Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour) and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weiss), both of whom have connections to Dreykov. The two once posed as Natasha and Yelena\’s parents, when the quartet was stationed as spies living in Ohio, as shown in the movie\’s opening, set in 1995. As the only family one and other knew, the quartet squabbles and backstab each other, sometimes helping and sometimes impeding the mission.


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