“Your ledger is dripping, it’s GUSHING red, and you think saving a man no more virtuous than yourself will change anything? This is the basest sentimentality. This is a child at prayer… PATHETIC! You lie and kill in the service of liars and killers. You pretend to be separate, to have your own code. Something that makes up for the horrors. But they are a part of you, and they will never go away!… “

Remember these lines from ‘The Avengers’ (2012)? Loki said these to Natasha Romanoff in the S.H.I.E.L.D helicarrier before he realised that he was being played for information. Though Natasha managed to get the details of his plan yet these things seemed to have affected her at that point in time. Nine years later, Marvel’s ‘Black Widow’ explores this ‘Gushing Red’ on the ledger as the audience finally gets a stand-alone Widow film. Frankly, she deserved it considering her rising character graph and epic end in ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (2019). ‘Black Widow’ is a fitting finale to the story of Natasha Romanoff who had been the most selfless Avenger, perhaps after Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. 

Chronologically, Set between the timelines of ‘Captain America: Civil War’ (2016) and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (2018), this film takes the audience into the past of Natasha Romanoff. From the trailers, it’s quite evident that she meets her ‘family’ in the film. The infamous Red Room where a Widow is furnaced into an ultimate killing machine finally makes an appearance as the audience gets to meet the maker of the widows. And there’s the mysterious Taskmaster. So many cool references, old songs, callbacks to previous films, spectacular action sequences and at the very end of the credits, the quintessential Marvel post-credit tease about phase 4, ‘Black Widow’ has everything that a Marvel fan could’ve asked for. 

The film begins with a high octane sequence with a family of four trying to escape Ohio city in a small Cessna plane, with a package smuggled from a secure lab. The family of spies is a clear throwback to the Heathfield-Foley spy ring that was busted in 2010 in Boston. Interested readers can click on this link to know more about the family that lived as undercover Russian spies for more than a decade in a suburb of Boston. Black Widow’s backstory has been teased from the first ‘Avengers’ (2012) and though we get to see under what grounds she was inducted into S.H.I.E.L.D, her and Hawkeye’s interaction over Budapest remains hidden. As it happens, nobody knows what happened between them in Budapest. Mixing real into the reel, ‘Black Widow’ sets up the premise well and then takes it up a notch higher with its cool hand-to-hand combats, prison escapes, building razing actions – all laced with typical Marvel deadpan humour. Even if you haven’t watched any of the 23 films from MCU, this film will still manage to keep you hooked with its a spy going back to her roots to know who she was, a la Jason Bourne. 

Scarlett Johansson plays the titular character and also doubles up as the executive producer for the movie. Natasha Romanoff is one of the most memorable Avengers and she gets to play it one last time with elan. She checks all her boxes, earnest performance and badass actions. Matching her step by step, Florence Pugh gives a fabulous performance as Yelena, with her sarcastic jibes and action-packed outing as the latest Marvel assassin. David Harbour and Rachel Weisz play their parts quite well. In the last few years, David steadfastly has proven how gifted a performer he is. As always, Rachel Weisz is excellent as the mother/mentor to both Natasha and Yelena. Ray Winstone plays Dreykov, the mysterious lynchpin behind the Red Room with his ace in the hole – The Taskmaster. To be honest, the revelation of the character Taskmaster falls a little flat, as it doesn’t get any meat to work on it.

‘Black Widow’ is a win-win for Marvel. With its adrenaline-packed action and fairly decent origin story, it rightfully fits into the hall of fame for great comic book film origin films. After eleven years of playing a character, Scarlett gets her long-overdue stand-alone film, along with a fitting sign off. It’s super fun, super entertaining and a must watch in theatres.

Marvel’s ‘Black Widow’ is now playing in theatres. Also available on Disney plus Premier Access. Run time of 133 minutes, rated Universal for all viewing.

The Cinemawala Rating: 3/5

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