The new Marvel movie is a hilarious spy story where the shining light beams from the chemistry between Florence Pugh and Scarlett Johansson

Some have questioned the practicality of dedicating a film more than two hours long to a character who had already completed his dramatic repertoire within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the truth is that at this point it has been more than proven that the company does nothing without thinking twice. That’s why ‘Black Widow’ isn’t limited to being a stand-alone solo adventure, but is the pretext to reorganizing what we know and understand about the protagonist (the magnificent prologue, which cleverly places a life developed between appearances, is a very significant example), configure new narrative horizons that also serve to reread what we have witnessed this far and, above all, introduce aspects that will end up being fundamental for future series and films.

You’re doing something very well when you manage to make every title in the saga seem crucial to understanding the whole, and even more when, as is the case, chronologically you might be excused for feeling that it’s a simple footnote. The film explains the events immediately after “Civil War”, in which Natasha Romanoff attempts to live in the shadows while she is forced to reconnect with a past which up to this point, we had only managed to read between the lines.

So, it’s perfectly compatible to assume that “Black Widow” is no paradigm of originality (important fact: it never intends to be), recognizing its ability to develop excellent characters while being a highly entertaining spy tale set at some unique point between Bond, Bourne and “The Americans.” series. Director Cate Shortland shoots action scenes well, as well as the more intimate segments (the whole sequence at the “mother’s” house, without going any further, which achieves this trademark balance between humor and drama) and introduces enough elements, so saga fans have something to get their hooks into.

Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). “Black Widow”. ©Marvel Studios 2021.

At the end of the movie, you realize that you know more about the Black Widow than before, and that watching “Endgame” again requires a reexamination of certain points and details that help audiences to view her in a more three-dimensional way. A feat in itself. It also has a few noteworthy discoveries. To start, the supporting actors, to which Shortland furnishes with a grateful range of nuances, and who manage, as is the case with great genre characters, to buttress the film every time they appear, with those of Rachel Weisz and David Harbor at the fore. And very especially, the film finds its true meaning in Yelena Belova, primarily for the way she is inserted into the saga’s collective imagination as well as for the excellent performance from Florence Pugh. The chemistry between her and Scarlett Johansson works so well that you’ll be left  regretting that the narrative logic won’t allow us to see them sharing a screen in these same roles again. Be that as it may, it is wonderful to see how Marvel, even in the “second-tier” films, manages to wake up the children within us. And watch out for the scene after the credits, which might catch you off guard if you haven’t been keeping abreast of MCU series.

Pep Prieto. Journalist and writer. Series critic on ‘El Món a RAC1’ and for the program ‘Àrtic’ on Betevé. Author of the essay ‘Al filo del mañana’, about time-travelling cinema, and ‘Poder absoluto’, about cinema and politics.