Audiences have continued to be enthralled with the MCU on the small screen thanks to the likes of Loki and WandaVision, but after many delays and a lot of waiting, the franchise finally returns to the majesty of the big screen with Black Widow. The reviews for the latest silver screen Marvel outing are now in, and Black Widow sounds like not only a worthy story about the founding Avenger, but also a triumphant return to theaters.
Comicbook.com's Jamie Jirak found Black Widow to be the perfect end for Scarlett Johansson's time in the MCU (though does argue that the movie came a little too late) and urges audiences to see it on the big screen.
"Black Widow will be available to buy on Disney+ Premier Access, but if you have the chance to see it on the big screen, you should absolutely take it. The film will be the ideal return to the theater for any moviegoer, even those who are just casual fans of the MCU. While it's hard not to dwell on the fact that Black Widow should have been made a decade ago, the new movie still manages to be a well-placed addition to the franchise and the perfect send-off for Scarlett Johansson and Natasha Romanoff."
Variety echoed many of these sentiments, finding Black Widow to be a much deeper, more interesting Marvel outing than fans of the franchise are perhaps expecting.
"...Audiences going into "Black Widow" may still wonder what, exactly, they're going to get to see the title character do. In Scarlett Johansson's appearances in the MCU thus far, going back to "Iron Man 2," she's been a kick-ass fighter in sleek leather with a few signature jackknife moves. I wondered, or maybe feared, that "Black Widow" would be two hours of that. It's not; it's much more interesting and absorbing."
Indiewire's Eric Kohn meanwhile appreciated the movie's homage to the Bourne franchise and was left excited about the rest of Marvel's Phase 4.
"Bad accents abound and no amount of fun can salvage the third-act cliché of a giant burning object falling from the sky, but overall, "Black Widow" amounts to a satisfying addition to "The Bourne Identity" franchise. Of course, it's actually a solid beginning to the latest cycle of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the appeal of the MCU has always stemmed from the way it plays off existing formulas with dollops of spruced-up action strewn throughout, and the 24th entry hits all of those beats with style to spare."
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter could not help but compare Black Widow with Marvel's other female-driven installment, Captain Marvel, with the critic ultimately finding the former to be a much more satisfying expereince.
"Directed by Cate Shortland with propulsive excitement, humor and pleasingly understated emotional interludes, this standalone proves a stellar vehicle for Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff, given first-rate support by Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz and David Harbour. Shifting away from the superhero template into high-octane espionage thriller territory, it makes a far more satisfying female-driven MCU entry than the blandly bombastic Captain Marvel."
IGN commended the movie on its ambition before stating that, knowing Natasha Romanoff's sacrificial end, the movie is draped in tragedy.
"The film is, in a word, ambitious. It's a superhero flick but also an espionage action-thriller, a dysfunctional family drama, a send-off, and overwhelmingly, a film about recovering from abuse. Much of it doesn't feel like a Marvel film at all, thanks to the darker tone used to tell the story of a Russian program that kidnaps young girls and trains them to become assassins. There isn't a catalyzing event that gave Natasha superpowers - no radioactive spider bite or gamma bomb. And Natasha already defected to S.H.I.E.L.D., though viewers will get clarity on why she joined in the first place. The film centers on affirming why she continues on the path of heroism, beyond just escaping the confines of her past life. Though it resolves on a hopeful note, it leaves an aftertaste of intense tragedy for one of Marvel's original Avengers."
The feeling that Black Widow should have been made much earlier in the Marvel cinematic timeline is something that is held by many, with Collider's Matt Goldberg believing that the story would have been better suited focussing on much earlier on Black Widow's career, rather than simply using the character to introduce Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova.
"While the family dynamic is fun and the mission is standard Marvel fare, Black Widow ultimately feels like it's telling the wrong story, but it has no choice given where it falls in the MCU timeline. Had this movie come out in the mid-2010s, they still could have gone the prequel route but told the story about Budapest and her fateful meeting with Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner). We know that's an important turning point in her life, and it would have been cool to see how it unfolded and changed her direction from hired assassin to S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Instead, the story we're getting is more of a backdoor pilot for the Yelena Belova show. I can only hope Marvel does better by Yelena than they did by Natasha."
Finally, The Independent found the movie flawed, but could not help but be enamoured by the female-centric storytelling...even if it did take Marvel this long.
"For all of Black Widow's flaws, the things that it does right build a more hopeful future for the women of the MCU - one with stories that not only invoke real and relatable experiences, but are actually being told by women behind the camera. It's just a shame that Natasha never had this from the very start."
Directed by Cate Shortland from a screenplay by Eric Pearson, Black Widow sees Scarlett Johansson reprise the role of Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow for what is likely the final time. The supporting cast includes Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenle, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, and Rachel Weisz. Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Natasha Romanoff finds herself on the run and forced to confront a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Romanoff must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.
Black Widow is scheduled to be released in the United States on July 9, which will be simultaneous in theaters and through Disney+ with Premier Access. The movie is the first in Marvel's Phase 4.