Natasha Romanoff might have already died during Avengers: Endgame, but her story is not over yet due to the arrival of her own solo film in Black Widow.
Directed by Cate Shortland, the upcoming prequel is set to showcase Scarlett Johansson's return as the titular spy, and she will be joined by her Russian family from the Red Room. These roles will be played by Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour.
Plot details are still being kept under wraps, but Black Widow has been confirmed to be set in between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. As a result, the reunion will happen due to the fact that Romanoff is on the run from the Sokovia Accords.
After multiple pandemic-induced delays, the film finally landed a July 2021 release window with premieres on Disney+ via Premier Access and in theaters. In recent weeks, marketing has ramped up for Black Widow, with a slew of trailers, interviews, and promotional posters being released online.
Now, as the film's debut inches closer, initial reactions from critics have arrived.
BLACK WIDOW IS ANOTHER MCU HIT
Ahead of the film's July 9 release, the press shared its first reactions to Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow on social media.
Fandango's Erik Davis revealed that Black Widow "truly completes" Natasha Romanoff's story in a "visceral & emotional way" while also praising Florence Pugh's performance in the film:
Marvel movies are back! #BlackWidow is a tense, action-packed spy thriller that truly completes Natasha’s story in a visceral & emotional way. Florence Pugh CRUSHES it & is an instant MCU icon. This is like the MCU's Bond movie w/ shades of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE & THELMA & LOUISE. pic.twitter.com/bauc2XVQlF
Collider's Steven Weintraub shared that Pugh and David Harbour "hit home-runs" with their performances in the MCU prequel:
Cate Shortland had the difficult job trying to fill in Natasha Romanoff’s backstory, but she nailed it in #BlackWidow. While entire cast was great both @Florence_Pugh and @DavidKHarbour hit home-runs with their performances. No way audiences don’t want more of both characters. pic.twitter.com/CIJTV4oxR6
The Wrap's Umberto Gonzales pointed out that Black Widow is a movie that is worth seeing on "the biggest screen possible" while also describing the film as "very entertaining and action-packed:"
Marvel movies are back and Phase 4 kicks off with the very entertaining and action-packed #BlackWidow. Giving us a long-overdue look at Natasha's backstory, with solid performances throughout and thrilling set pieces that demand you see this movie on the biggest screen possible. pic.twitter.com/Pr6qeBlSGQ
Jenna Busch remarked that Scarlett Johansson "deserved this film long ago:"
I loved #BlackWidow...and it makes me angry. ScarJo deserved this film long ago. I loved everyone in it, but it bothers me so much that Marvel waited so long. ScarJo was amazing as always. Florence Pugh, I have loved in everything I've seen her in, and continue to do so. (1 of 2) pic.twitter.com/RdBvsFZlbg
Indiewire's Kate Erbland revealed that the first half of Black Widow is "intimate and talky and kind of funny in a new way for the MCU:"
#BlackWidow : Actually bruising fighting and chase sequences, a go-for-broke Florence Pugh performance (does she turn in any other kind? nope), and a first half that's intimate and talky and kind of funny in a new way for the MCU; yes, I enjoyed this. pic.twitter.com/i48fFmjNud
ComicBook's Brandon Davis praised Black Widow by saying that it is “one of Marvel's best solo films.” Davis took note of Johansson's performance, admitting that she "finally gets to pour everything into the role:"
#BlackWidow is one of Marvel's best solo films. Start to finish, the movie is great. Excellent surprises, emotional character moments, bad-ass action, and Scarlett Johansson finally gets to pour everything into the role. Director Cate Shortland nailed it. Bravo. pic.twitter.com/sgEkUW63cT
Murphy's Multiverse's Charles Murphy shared that Marvel Studios “went for big Winter Soldier action beats” in Black Widow:
#MarvelStudios went for big Winter Soldier action beats in #BlackWidow and put together a couple of really intense scenes. They also went for some big Mission Impossible/Bond scenes that I really enjoyed. ScarJo & Pugh have great chemistry & are 🔥 together. 3rd act feels choppy
ScreenRant's Alisha Grauso said that there were "shades of John Wick fight scenes and intense action sequences" in Black Widow while also pointing out that the film "shows exactly why Natasha Romanoff was the glue that held the Avengers together:"
#BlackWidow shows exactly why Natasha Romanoff was the glue that held the Avengers together. Shades of John Wick fight scenes & inventive action sequences wrapped in a heartfelt & poignant story about family & how the world treats girls. Excited to see Yelena carry the torch.
Collider's Perri Nemiroff revealed that Black Widow is "the kind of prequel story that feels bound to enhance other installments of the MCU."
Dug #BlackWidow a good deal! Was kinda worried about watching this story unfold knowing what’s to come in Endgame, that it might diminish the stakes, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, this is the kind of prequel story that feels bound to enhance other installments of the MCU. pic.twitter.com/sFcwHzW30Y
ComicBook.com's Jim Vascardi praised the cast of Black Widow, sharing that it is "one of the best casts in a Marvel film:"
#BlackWidow has one of the best casts in a Marvel film. Scarlett, David, Rachel and Florence all have scene stealing moments that keep the movie moving briskly. It probably has the most action of any solo Marvel film and I felt like I was on a roller coaster the entire time.
ComicBookMovie's Josh Wilding described Black Widow as "Bourne meets Bond meets Terminator:"
#BlackWidow is Bourne meets Bond meets Terminator...with two phenomenal, BADASS female leads in #ScarlettJohansson and #FlorencePugh. Action-packed, funny, and at times surprisingly gut-wrenching, Cate Shortland's vision for the #MCU is bold, empowering, and utterly unmissable. pic.twitter.com/jrGIOkIW0Z
CinemaBlend's Sean O'Connell praised Black Widow director Cate Shortland by saying that her style "approaches Russo levels of physicality and intensity:"
Loved #BlackWidow for very unexpected reasons. Yes, it's wall-to-wall action (and Cate Shortland approaches Russo levels of physicality and intensity). But the movie's heart, and display of a broken family, hit me hard. Very much appreciated this deeper dive into Natasha. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/j6m1gvv3B0
Variety's Courtney Howard said that Johansson and Pugh "nail the banter and ballet-like stunts" in the film while also pointing out that the big action set pieces are "thrilling, propulsive & capably constructed:"
#BlackWidow is excellent. An exhilarating shot of adrenaline. Scarlett Johansson & Florence Pugh nail the banter & ballet-like stunts. David Harbour is absolutely terrific. Big action set pieces are thrilling, propulsive & capably constructed. Multi-layered thematic resonance. pic.twitter.com/ew9r1NXvfL
Buzzfeed's Nora Dominick also praised Pugh's performance as Yelena Belova, sharing that the actress is "born for the MCU:"
#BlackWidow might be one of my favorite solo origin movies in the MCU. There's something about seeing Natasha finally get her story that made me emotional in all the best ways. Also, Florence Pugh was born for the MCU, and her dynamic with Scarlett is a triumph
BLACK WIDOW CAST TAKES THE SPOTLIGHT
Based on what's been revealed so far, it looks like Marvel Studios has another hit on their hands.
Most of the reactions generally praised the film's cast, and it seems that the quartet of Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, and Rachel Weisz delivered memorable performances that should be the main topic of discussion among fans when the film premieres next month.
Early reactions are generally positive, and this should boost the hype for Black Widow. Given that the film has been compared to notable films like John Wick, Mission Impossible, and the MCU's very own Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it seems that the prequel delivered in the action side of things.
It remains to be seen if this will be Johansson's last hurrah as Natasha Romanoff, but the reactions suggest that the film showcases a fitting ending to the character. Even though fans already know Romanoff's ending in Avengers: Endgame, it looks like Black Widow creates an opportunity to add more layer to this heroine, thus further cementing her sacrifice for her other family, the Avengers.
The reactions revealed that the future is bright for Pugh's Yelena Belova, and this is good news for the franchise's Phase 4 and beyond. It was rumored that Yelena will appear in other MCU projects like Hawkeye, and there's a strong chance that she will carry her strong performance to those titles as well.
Black Widow is a prequel, but it seems that Cate Shortland and her crew managed to deliver exciting surprises for the MCU's future while also giving Romanoff a proper send-off after the Infinity Saga.
Black Widow premieres on Disney+ via Premier Access and in theaters on July 9, 2021.