REVIEW: ‘Black Widow’ An Outstanding & Exciting Return To Marvel Cinematic Universe

Jul 9, 2021, 5:51 AM | Updated: 10:25 am

SALT LAKE CITY — The long wait is finally over for fans wanting to see another Marvel Cinematic Universe film on the big screen. It’s been over two years since the box office juggernaut “Avengers: Endgame” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home” brought Phase 3 of the MCU to a close.  Though there has been some small-screen action on Disney+ to tide us over (“WandaVision,” “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” and the currently-ongoing “Loki” series), the big screen experience has been sorely missed.

Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff in Marvel’s “Black Widow.”

Black Widow” was supposed to be the first event of Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Because of COVID-19 and postponements, it is now the fourth event—though it is the first movie.  Fortunately, “Black Widow” doesn’t feel out of place on the timeline at all. In fact, it stands very strong in its own right.

“Black Widow” is a story centered specifically around one of the original members of the cinematic Avengers teams, Natasha Romanoff. The movie mostly takes place following the events of 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” though there are some flashbacks to earlier parts of her life.

Romanoff, played once again by Scarlett Johansson, is on the run as a fugitive when some people from darker parts of her past resurface. It forces her to confront the consequences of some of the choices she’s made over the years as both a Russian spy, which she was before defecting to the good side, and even as an Avenger.

We learn more about Romanoff’s past, including that she lived in America in the 1990’s as part of a sleeper Russian spy “family,” and it’s those characters with whom she deals in this film, namely: Her “sister” Yelena Belova, played superbly by Florence Pugh; her “dad” Alexei, played by Stranger ThingsDavid Harbour and her “mom” Milena, played by Rachel Weisz.

Director Cate Shortland, who Scarlett Johanssen personally convinced to take the job, and writers Eric Pearson, Jac Shaeffer and Ned Benson wisely chose to keep the story mostly self-contained, with very little connecting to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. There is a post-credits scene that ties into the larger Marvel Universe but that’s about it — and that’s not a bad thing.

As with so many Marvel movies, the casting is perfect once again, particularly the choice to bring in Pugh and Harbour. They both play very compelling characters and seem so natural in their roles that you immediately want to see more of them. I thought the best scenes of the movie are when the four main cast members are just interacting with each other, especially one particular scene around a dinner table.

Harbour’s Alexei was the Soviet Union’s version of Captain America during the Cold War, called the Red Guardian, and he plays him with a wistful nostalgia for the things his super-strong character did in the past, and regret for some things he didn’t do.  Pugh is getting some buzz nationally as a potential award nominee for her role.

All of the actors are helped by a story that moves with a quick pacing that reminded me of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”:  Action scene, followed by a moment to breathe, followed by a chase or more action, then repeat that sequence throughout the film.

Speaking of the action sequences, they are expertly done here, as you’d expect from a Marvel movie. You’ll see a variety of different things — hand-to-hand combat, stunt driving, chases through exotic locations, an exciting sequence involving a helicopter and another mid-air, gravity-and-laws-of-physics-defying battle.

“Black Widow” is rated PG-13 for language and violence, including some blood. There are also some sequences of mind control, which some people might find disturbing. The film runs two hours and 20 minutes long, but it didn’t feel to me like it dragged at all, and I watched it twice.

It’s the 24th movie in the Marvel franchise, so if you’re wondering which other films in the series you ought to watch first, I’d suggest “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Captain America: Civil War.”

So is “Black Widow” worth the extra year’s wait?  Absolutely yes! I think this is worthy of the top 10 of the 24 Marvel films so far and I’m looking forward to seeing it again.  Any skepticism I had going into the movie was gone shortly after Florence Pugh and David Harbour showed up and I can’t wait to hopefully see them in future Marvel projects.

“Black Widow” is an outstanding and exciting return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a great way to kick off Phase 4.

If you want to see the movie you’ve got two options. It is playing in theaters (including IMAX showings) and some analysts expect it to set a pandemic box office record, but you can also stream it through Disney+ Premier. Be warned, it will cost you a one-time, additional fee of $30 on top of your monthly Disney+ subscription to watch “Black Widow” at home, but you will have unlimited access to it.

Regular subscribers to Disney+ will have to wait until Oct. 6 before it becomes available for them to stream.


Hopefully you & your family found this review helpful! Andy Farnsworth is the movie and pop culture guy for the KSL 5 Today morning news show and also hosts the Fan Effect podcast for KSL NewsRadio. Check out some of his other in-depth reviews of movies and streaming TV series on

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Movie Reviews

Javon "Wanna" Walton (left) as Sam Cleary and Sylvester Stallone (right) as Joe Smith in SAMARITAN,...

REVIEW: Stallone’s ‘Samaritan’ stops short of superhero movie success

Sylvester Stallone's latest movie SAMARITAN sees him as a garbage man that a teenage neighbor believes to be a superhero in hiding. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says there are some cool moments that action and superhero movie fans will enjoy, but overall thinks it's good that the movie is only streaming on Prime Video and not in theaters.
3 months ago
(L to R) Thira ‘Aum’ Chutikul as Commander Kiet, Popetorn ‘Two’ Soonthornyanaku as Dr Karn,...

REVIEW: ‘Thirteen Lives’ movie dramatically tells real rescue story of Thai soccer team from flooded cave

In THIRTEEN LIVES, a true story-based movie on Amazon Prime about the rescue of a teenage soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand, director Ron Howard manages to pull off the feat of balancing truth with drama without turning it into a documentary. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says it was an emotionally-engaging movie that showcases the triumph of human effort and spirit when we work together to solve a problem.
4 months ago
(L to R) B.J. Novak as Ben Manalowitz and Boyd Holbrook as Ty Shaw in VENGEANCE, directed and writt...

REVIEW: Dark comedy ‘Vengeance’ goes deeper than easy stereotypes for laughs in murder mystery movie

The death of a one-time fling draws B.J. Novak's writer/podcaster character Ben to West Texas to investigate and hopefully turn the story into a career-making podcast in Focus Features' VENGEANCE. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says this dark comedy has some great twists and very funny moments, while also going beyond stereotypes to create real characters.
4 months ago
Michael Cera as “Hank” and Samuel L. Jackson as “Jimbo” in Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank...

REVIEW: ‘Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank’ remakes an adult comedy classic into an animated movie for modern-day kids

A kids animated movie based on the irreverent 1970's film BLAZING SADDLES? That's exactly what PAWS OF FURY: THE LEGEND OF HANK is, right down to having Mel Brooks voice a character. A friendly dog ventures to the land of cats to become a samurai, and finds himself protecting a village that doesn't even want him there. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says its got a great voice cast but keeping your expectations for the movie in check will help you enjoy it more.
5 months ago
The Gray Man (2022) Ryan Gosling as Six. Cr. Stanislav Honzik/Netflix © 2022...

REVIEW: ‘The Gray Man’ is a violent but fast-paced throwback to action/spy movies of the past, with Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling chasing each other around the globe

The new action thriller movie THE GRAY MAN, from AVENGERS ENDGAME directors Joe and Anthony Russo, sees Chris Evans' sadistic mercenary chasing Ryan Gosling's on-the-run CIA agent all around the globe to get back some stolen information. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says it's a love letter to spy and action movies of the past, and is very entertaining at times, though it is also quite violent.
5 months ago
(L-R): Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor and Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Marvel Studios' THOR: LOVE AND...

REVIEW: Portman, Bale help make ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ more than just another goofy adventure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER, the 29th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sees Chris Hemsworth's Thor have to deal with his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) using his formerly-destroyed mystical hammer and possessing his same power while trying to stop a villain who can kill gods. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says it's another goofy take on the character that has some very funny moments, but may not be to everyone's tastes.
5 months ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
REVIEW: ‘Black Widow’ An Outstanding & Exciting Return To Marvel Cinematic Universe