In what may be one of the quickest theater-to-home releases for a studio tentpole, Black Widow is now available on home video to buy or rent.
Before I dive into my thoughts on the film, we need to talk about the end credits. Because the film displays the credits during an opening montage, there is no mid-credit scene. Instead, the scene comes at the very end of the credits. If you’re watching at home, a lot of people worked on this film so if you could please hold off on fast-forwarding, they’d appreciate it. I won’t give away any details but I have my thoughts about what this scene means for the MCU.
Previous films as well as Agent Carter have offered a glimpse into the Red Room. What we’ve seen before isn’t much. Hell, the opening montage barely even picks up on Natasha Romanoff’s (Scarlett Johansson) training in the Widow program. We knew that things went down between her and Clint Barton in Budapest but not all of the details. What exactly was on her ledger, well, that has rarely been seen on screen. And now, the gloves can finally come off.
In telling Natasha’s backstory, the filmmakers are essentially painting on what was a blank canvas. Her origin story is the one in which the audience has very little knowledge. Bits and pieces, yes, but we didn’t know much about her childhood other than training to be a Widow. While we’re all the better after watching this film, I cannot stress enough that it should have come a long time ago. It makes you wish that they brought in a minor character nobody cared about just to kill them off to get the Soul Stone. Tonally speaking, we get a Marvel film we haven’t seen before. That’s the beauty of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, of course. It goes without saying that I trust Kevin Feige when it comes to the long-term vision of the MCU. With this film, Marvel does it again.
You can certainly argue that Natasha more or less kept to herself. But it’s that background that comes back to haunt her when she’s also trying to evade the American government. It’s a background that sees her reuniting with Yelena (Florence Pugh), Alexei/The Red Guardian (David Harbour), and Melina (Rachel Weisz) after Taskmaster attacks her. We learn who they are to her as she knew them long before she ever became one of the Avengers. But why has she never mentioned them? Mason (O-T Fagbenle), a fixer, is also a MCU newcomer. General Dreykov (Ray Winstone) lurks behind the scenes from the comfort of the Red Room. For Natasha to take care of him once and for all, it’ll mean having to come to terms with her past. Ever Anderson and Violet McGraw portray Natasha and Yelena as children.
Eric Pearson’s screenplay draws on a story by Schaeffer and Ned Benson. Cate Shortland, handpicked by Johansson herself, splendidly directs the film. There’s no shortage of action or humor. Most of the humor comes from Florence Pugh and David Harbour. It makes you wish you could see more films with them working together. Honestly, if it weren’t for Natasha Romanoff dying during Avengers: Endgame, I’d think this film could have led to more team-ups between them. I don’t think we’ll be seeing any more as I assume that Scarlett Johansson has put on the costume for the last time. But never say never–there’s a lot of time between Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. This film is set on the heels of Civil War. As such, William Hurt is on hand to reprise his role as Secretary of State Ross.
Behind the camera, Shortland works with director of photography Gabriel Beristain to set up the action. The cameras allow us to get up close and personal. Throw in the film’s quick pace and the action keeps us on our seats. On a bigger scale, the production takes us to a number of countries. Marvel veteran production designer Charles Wood has a big playing field but finds a way to make the film stand out. For a film of this nature, you could never really recreate several cities on a studio set or backlot. All in all, there are some 64 different sets that we see before our eyes. Watching Black Widow on the big screen really allows you to take in the scenery. The Norwegian scenery alone is gorgeous!
I love Lorne Balfe’s work in this film. If you loved what he did with the score in Mission: Impossible – Fallout, you’ll enjoy what he does with this one. Honestly, Lorne Balfe delivers one of the best scores of the year. He draws on Russian folk music as inspiration for the score, which makes sense given Natasha’s background. The score works on both an intimate and epic scale. In addition to a female choir for Natasha and a male choir for Yelena, Balfe also quotes Alan Silvestri’s theme for Black Widow from the Avengers films. There are other themes that Balfe created for the film and they play rather nicely. Will we see them again? Who knows.
Fans have had a lot of patience–some more than others–in waiting for this film. It works as a standalone story even if it does leave you wanting more after the fact. In watching what takes place in the film, you’d have had no idea that this is what Natasha did in between a pair of movies. This film also adds another layer to both Civil War and Infinity War in terms of storytelling. But in the end, our patience pays off. We go all the way back to when Natasha was just 12 years old. A lot happens between then and the time she defects to join S.H.I.E.L.D. There’s a lot more that I want to say about the film but obviously, that would go into spoiler territory.
Black Widow might be better late than never but Marvel Studios does it again and delivers the goods.
- Bloopers – Take a look at some of the fun mishaps on set with the cast and crew of Black Widow.
- Deleted Scenes
- Grocery Shopping – Natasha heads into a grocery store to prepare for her journey through Norway. After a long drive, she arrives at her destination: a mysterious trailer in the middle of nowhere.
- Bike Chase – Tailed by assailants, Natasha and Yelena speed through the city in order to escape their nemeses.
- Gulag Fight – Alexei squares up against several enemies and is quickly overpowered. When all hope seems lost, Natasha leaps in to lend a hand in the fight.
- Smile – The Taskmaster protocol is activated in a tense moment, and an iconic helmet is unveiled.
- Come After Me – Secretary Ross and Mason discover an important message Natasha left behind.
- Walk and Talk – Alexei and Melina have a playful exchange. The Taskmaster arrives and faces off with Alexei.
- Widows in Training – Yelena and Alexei awaken in captivity. Melina hands the Taskmaster vials while the Widows train.
- Kiss – Alexei and Melina reunite after the action. Natasha grieves over an untimely demise in the brutal aftermath.
- Ohio – Natasha witnesses the carefree nature of the Ohio suburbs through the neighborhood children.
- Filmmaker Introduction Featurette – Director Cate Shortland introduces the film and her vision for it.
- Sisters Gonna Work It Out Featurette – Watch Scarlett and Florence as they train, fight, and bond to become the sister duo in Black Widow. Listen as the cast and crew discuss the characters, rigorous training, and building the dynamic between the two fearsome siblings.
- Go Big If You’re Going Home Featurette – Step back to appreciate the size and scale of Black Widow’s solo film. Shot around the world, the film balances family and drama with mind-blowing action. The cast and crew reveal the intricacies of stunts that made the film so action-packed.
DIRECTOR: Cate Shortland
SCREENWRITERS: Eric Pearson
CAST: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenle, with William Hurt, with Ray Winstone and Rachel Weisz