Natasha Romanoff is an MCU OG. Debuting way way back in Iron Man 2, Black Widow has been a faithful avenging wing-woman ever since.
She should have headlined her own standalone years ago but here we have it, finally. Made with heart, pumping with estrogen and adrenaline, Black Widow is absolutely worth the wait.
Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland needed to deliver on a backstory we had only really had an inkling of and, despite the rather bloated runtime, deliver it does.
The narrative inhabits that Black Widow vacuum in between the two wars - Civil and Infinity. Ms Romanoff does her darndest to stay off the grid but it doesn't last long as her past catches up with her and we're introduced to her other "family".
This is where some top notch casting elevates proceedings as Brit firestarter Florence Pugh (Midsommer/Little Women) storms into the MCU with sass, soul and serious butt-kickery. She plays opposite Scarlett Johansson as Yelena, a duo who clearly shares a backstory of their own with some parental guidance from David Harbour (Stranger Things/Hellboy) and Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener/Bourne Legacy).
Some expert straddling of the Romanoff timeline gives us some insight into little Natasha and Yelena but it's here I shall leave things be as the rest of the reveals are of course to be savoured at your nearest cinema; like all the Marvel films before her, Black Widow was made for the BIG screen.
Those of you signing up for the Marvel superhero experience should not leave disappointed as this is action-packed with plentiful twists and turns and doesn't skimp on the super soldier fight sequences.
There is also the requisite ironic tip of the hat to superhero tropes, augmented so delectably by the humour mined from such a male-centric genre when seen via the female gaze.
For me, a major takeaway was this. Johansson OWNS this character and the years she’s invested in her really show here. The fact that even now, when finally she has her own film, her own story, she chooses to open up that world and share it with Pugh on equal footing without even the barest hint of ego.
It's the epitome of cinematic collaboration and is, quite simply put, two grown-arse women showing us how it's done.
This is blockbuster entertainment and you should all go see it.