Warning - This article contains spoilers for Black Widow.
After finally releasing in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access, Black Widow ties Natasha Romanoff's story in a neat little bow.
Scarlett Johansson punches and kickes her way through her likely final appearance as the Marvel hero, all the while smashing box-office expectations. The Cate Shortland-directed film proves to be a fitting end to Romanoff's journey, providing some necessary closure after her sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame.
The film also introduces many new faces to Black Widow's supporting roster of characters, in addition to bringing back a few MCU veterans into the mix.
EVERY MARVEL CHARACTER IN BLACK WIDOW
Here's every Marvel character that makes an appearance in Marvel Studios' Black Widow...
The star of the show, Scarlett Johansson suits up as Black Widow one last time. Finally getting a solo film to call her own, Natasha Romanoff teams up with her found family to confront her haunted past.
Black Widow manages to do just that, ending Dreykov's control over her and the other Widows, taking down the Red Room, and setting off to free her fellow Avengers.
A fitting end to Natasha's journey in the MCU, Black Widow celebrates the titular character and ensures that her legacy continues on.
Florence Pugh makes her MCU debut as Yelena Belova, Natasha's surrogate sister. The two have a tumultuous relationship throughout the film, being inseparable as kids only to resent one another after years apart. Though Yelena makes fun of Natasha's self-centered hero poses and Natasha finds Yelena's vest to be a questionable purchase at first, the duo finds a way to reconnect as sisters.
Telegraphing Yelena's future is the post-credits stinger, which sets her course to appear in the Hawkeye Disney+ series. Yelena Belova's MCU journey is just getting started.
ALEXEI SHOSTAKOV / RED GUARDIAN
This ain't the Crimson Dynamo, this is indeed the Red Guardian.
The poor man's Captain America, David Harbour portrays the Red Guardian AKA Alexei Shostakov. Russia's response to the Star-Spangled Man, Alexei is one of a few super-soldiers in the MCU.
Bringing plenty of humor and odd fatherly advice, Harbour proves to be an excellent choice as the oddball father of Black Widow's chaotic family unit.
Rachel Weisz appears as former Black Widow Melina Vostokoff, who has since taken the role of lead scientist for the Red Room. Melina differs significantly from her Marvel Comics counterpart, where she goes by the moniker Iron Maiden. The character is still a master assassin but instead wears a strong suit made of strong metal. Sound familiar?
Despite deviating from her original inspiration significantly, Melina serves as an interesting take on the motherly figure archetype. Hopefully, she returns to the role again in a future Marvel project, so long as she isn't torturing any more pigs.
For those that missed this comic book deep cut, Olivier Richters plays Ursa Major who appears in the prison scene with Alexei. After challenging the Red Guardian to an arm-wrestling match, Alexei swiftly breaks his wrist and mocks his opponent by calling him a "big bear."
In the comics, Ursa is just that: a big bear. The character is actually a mutant, who is able to transform into an anthropomorphic bear. If Ursa was capable of this in the movie, he clearly didn't use this powers to his advantage. Perhaps Ursa will show up again in the future and live up to his name.
One of Black Widow's primary adversaries, Taskmaster arrives in the MCU for the first time but in a slightly different manner. Rather than sticking to the comic books, Black Widow tweaks Taskmaster's origin by putting Antonia Dreykov in the suit, who Natasha thought she had killed in Budapest.
Instead, she created a monster, played by Olga Kurylenko. Though she could have arguably been used a bit more, the few moments where she flips a knife like the Winter Soldier or bares her claws like T'Challa serve as fun callbacks.
The big bad behind it all, Ray Winstone brings the Red Room's Dreykov to life. After being teased all the way back in 2012's The Avengers, Black Widow finally sheds some light on why Dreykov has haunted the character all these years. Interestingly, Dreykov is the only character on this list not to be directly based on a comic book character.
Natasha sees to it that the Red Room's leader never takes a young girl from their family ever again, gaining some much-needed closure in the process.
Joining the main three Black Widows are several others from the Red Room's program, who are all stuck under Dreykov's control. Although the Black Widow program originally brainwashed their subjects the old-fashioned way, the Red Room has since upgraded to physical implants to take over the minds of its victims.
Luckily, Natasha and her ragtag gang of allies gave the Widows their free will back and ventured off to free the remaining agents around the world.
Though they were dissolved all the way back in 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division still manages to sneak its way back into MCU projects.
SHIELD agents, more specifically their SUVs, appear at the very start of the film, chasing down Natasha, Yelena, Alexei, and Melina as they attempt to escape to Cuba.
Speaking of SHIELD, O-T Fagbenle plays Rick Mason — Natasha's contact who previously worked at the intelligence agency. Mason played a relatively minor role in the grand scheme of things but played a crucial role in ensuring that Black Widow could get from point A to point B.
In the comics, Rick Mason is also known as the Agent, a highly trained covert-ops specialist and son of the Tinkerer.
GENERAL THADDEUS 'THUNDERBOLT' ROSS
William Hurt's General Ross returns after a surprising number of MCU appearances, this time tasked with detaining Black Widow for aiding Captain America and violating the Sokovia Accords. Though his role was limited, it's nice to know that Ross is still finding things to do in the universe.
Still waiting on him to turn into the Red Hulk though.
CONTESSA VALENTINA ALLEGRA DE FONTAINE
Returning from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine swoops in at the last second for the post-credits sting. Revealing that she's recruited Yelena Belova, Valentina proves that she'll be a formidable foe for the MCU's current roster of heroes.
Black Widow was actually intended to be Val's first MCU appearance before Marvel Studios shifted the running order of its Phase 4 projects. Considering how frequently Valentina has appeared thus far, fans should expect to see her again sometime soon.
Though Black Widow's lifelong pal doesn't appear in the flesh, Hawkeye can be seen right at the end of the film in the post-credits scene. Val brings up an image of Clint Barton on a tablet, revealing that the Avenger is Yelena's next target and suggesting that he was responsible for Natasha's death.
Hopefully, Clint can talk things over with his assassin, but he'll likely have to fight her off before he gets a chance.
While it doesn't necessarily contain any big surprises as far as characters are concerned, Black Widow manages to honor its MCU veterans and establish exciting new characters to carry the baton forward.
Black Widow is out now in theaters and streaming now on Disney+ Premier Access.