“Black Widow” Review Roundup: An Epic Spy Thriller That Was Worth The Wait

The early reactions to director Cate Shortland’s Black Widow were very positive, so it’s not surprising that with the review embargo lifted we’d get more of the same. Still, it’s heartening to know that after a very, very long wait to see Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff get her own Marvel movie, the result is a satisfying, emotional thrill ride. Many critics also hail the fact that Black Widow feels more grounded than recent MCU films, with a grittier visual style from Shortland and fight sequences that rival Captain America: The Winter Soldier in their intensity.

You likely know Black Widow‘s basics by now—the film is set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. It finds Natasha trying to contend with “the darker parts of her ledger,” that is, her pre-Avenger life, by heading east and meeting up with old friends and foes. This puts her into contact with allies like Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), and Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour). It also means facing enemies like Taskmaster, the leader of a group of super assassins—better known as Black Widows—the very program from which Natasha herself emerged.

With that bit of our own ledger taken care of, let’s move onto a spoiler-free glimpse at the reviews. You can click on the links to read them in full. Black Widow hits theaters and Disney+ Premiere Access on July 9:

“Black Widow meets the immense challenge of enhancing the past and future of the character, while also functioning as a full experience in and of itself.” – Perri Nemiroff, YouTube.

“Maybe it’s no surprise that the film is entertaining and full of action. It is unexpected, though, that Black Widow may be the least Avenger-like movie in the series so far.” – Caryn James, BBC.com.

“Johansson once again embodies a character driven by her pain; now we know where it comes from. Pugh is outstanding, tapping into some of that same pain but making it her own.” – Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic.

“Shortland works in unvarnished closeup and establishes a mood of lurching, desultory anxiety that’s closer to Russian neorealism than the Russo brothers.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety.

“For fans of Black Widow and everyone else, this episode is great fun and Harbour could well ascend to spinoff greatness of his own.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian.

“This standalone proves a stellar vehicle for Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, given first-rate support by Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz and David Harbour.” – David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter.

“Divorced of its duties to superhero lore, Black Widow would still be a sufficiently deft spy caper, confidently crafted and worthy on its own terms.” – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair.

For more stories on what’s streaming or coming to Disney+, check these out:

Creating the Wonderful World of Disney+’s “The Mysterious Benedict Society”

New “Black Widow” Images Herald Marvel’s First Phase 4 Film

Three New “Black Widow” Videos Highlight Villain Taskmaster & More

New “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” Reveals The Mandarin

What are “Black Widow” Villain Taskmaster’s Abilities?

Featured Image: Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) as Black Widow in Marvel Studios’ BLACK WIDOW. Photo by Jay Maidment. ©Marvel Studios 2020.


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The Credits is an online magazine that tells the story behind the story to celebrate our large and diverse creative community. Focusing on profiles of below-the-line filmmakers, The Credits celebrates the often uncelebrated individuals who are indispensable to the films and TV shows we love.