'Black Widow' was worth the wait: critics praise Marvel's female-led movie

Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh star in the Avengers character's first solo film

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff and Florence Pugh as Yelena in Marvel Studios' BLACK WIDOW. Photo by Jay Maidment. ©Marvel Studios 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Early reviews of Marvel’s much-delayed Black Widow are in, and it looks like the long wait is going to be worth it.

Led by Scarlett Johansson as the Marvel superhero in her first solo film outing, Black Widow’s initial May 2020 release date was upended by the coronavirus pandemic. Following a number of postponements, leading Marvel owner Disney to even consider a streaming release, it looks like the perseverance of studio bosses is going to pay off as cinemas slowly reopen around the world.

Coming out on July 9 in US cinemas as well as on Disney+ at an additional cost, fans in the Middle East will get to see it a day earlier, as the movie hits theatres, including the UAE, on July 8.

Set after the events of 2016 film Captain America: Civil War, Black Widow – the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – will follow Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff as she tries to shake off her past as an assassin, before she became an Avenger, as well as rebuild her frayed relationship with her family.

Several premiere events were held in London, Los Angeles and Melbourne on Tuesday with fans and film critics praising Black Widow's female-centric storyline as well as Johansson and Marvel newbie Florence Pugh’s performances.

Scroll through the gallery below for pictures from Black Widow premiere events held in London, Los Angeles and Melbourne:

“The film goes beyond the mere appearance of female representation and becomes a narrative entirely shaped by the fearlessness [and] smarts ... of two young women,” The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney writes, while also praising director Cate Shortland’s deft handling of the script.

“The payoff with a woman filmmaker from way outside the action sphere stokes anticipation for Chloe Zhao’s Eternals,” it says, referring to the coming Marvel film to be helmed by the Oscar winner.

The BBC called Black Widow “the least Avenger-like movie in the series so far”.

“No offence to the other Avengers, but after all this time a tweak in the formula is a good thing. Black Widow sets itself apart by emphasising Natasha's past, and her reunion with her fractured, drolly comic family. Not a peep out of those other superheroes,” critic Caryn James writes.

James also praised Pugh on her Marvel debut, calling her the most vibrant person in the film, saying the actress makes her character, Yelena, “more lived-in than most action-movie characters”.

The Washington Post said Pugh’s Yelena was a “worthy and equally watchable foil” to Johansson’s Romanoff.

“She delivers a funny, tough and compelling performance in a movie that is clearly meant to launch her character into her own patch of the franchise stratosphere,” Ann Hornaday writes.

The film’s fight scenes were also lauded, with many pointing out how different they were from the usual bombastic CG-laden action sequences of other Marvel films.

This image released by Disney/Marvel Studios' shows Scarlett Johansson in a scene from "Black Widow." The Walt Disney Co. on Friday overhauled its release schedule, moving the dates of half a dozen Marvel movies. “Black Widow,” which had been set to kick off the summer movie season, will now open Nov. 6. (Marvel Studios/Disney via AP)

“With relatively few superpowers or even super-gadgets in play, the action sequences tend more toward the kind of vehicle chases and hand-to-hand combat you might see from a Mission: Impossible or James Bond movie, as opposed to the more overtly fantastical displays of a Thor or Spider-Man movie,” Angie Han writes for Mashable. “It’s for the better. The (comparatively) grounded choreography leads to some of Marvel's most thrilling battles since at least Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

Han also points out how different Black Widow is from other Marvel films in tone and plot.

“For long stretches, it's almost possible to forget Black Widow is a Marvel movie at all, and that's a good thing. It's the palate cleanser the franchise needed,” she says, adding the film had actually “earned” a sequel.

“Not by leaving a bunch of plot holes to be filled by some future spinoff, or by promising to slot into some grand plan for an even larger saga, but simply by showing me a good time with characters I wouldn't mind seeing again,” she writes.

Black Widow also succeeds because it is imbued with a lot of “soul”, Variety’s Owen Gleiberman says.

“Natasha’s desire for vengeance is pulsating, but so are her inner wounds, and Johansson, unusual for the comic-book genre, makes the most vulnerable emotions part of the humanity of her strength,” he writes in his review. “Most of us have seen enough superpowers to last a lifetime. Black Widow spins on the powers that come from within.

Black Widow is out in the UAE on Thursday, July 8.

Updated: July 5th 2021, 5:53 AM
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