It had been over two years since I saw a Marvel movie opening night in theaters, so it felt pretty dang good to be back on Thursday.
Regular readers of this column know how much I love superhero content, and Marvel finally released another blockbuster. "Black Widow" was one of the movies the COVID-19 pandemic pushed back. It was supposed to come out in May of 2020, but the pandemic had other plans.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is split into phases of a grand story spanning 25 movies and three streaming TV shows. "Black Widow" was supposed to be the start of phase four, but Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios and the brain behind the MCU, decided to reroute.
Marvel released three television shows on Disney+ starting in January, with the third concluding on Wednesday. After some light tweaking, the MCU storyline is still intact as society crawls back to normalcy.
MCU movie releases are more events than anything else. The theater is typically packed with its biggest supporters fending for the newest piece to the puzzle. I am one of those supporters.
I've talked a lot about franchises and what makes them successful, and there isn't a better example than the MCU. It's a series of entertainment that is designed for all ages and is routinely fantastic. They have the magic formula to make great movies and TV shows.
The MCU is based mainly on comic books with a good amount of innovation on behalf of the film writers. Being that there are so many comics to pull from, they're used as a loose template to guide storylines through hundreds of hours of content.
It's sufficient for the hard-core comic book readers because they get to see the characters they've read about come to life in a modern way. For the loyal fans who never got into the comics as a kid, including myself, it encourages deep diving into new lore while maintaining consistent unpredictability.
For casual fans, Marvel movies are just overall entertaining. They're easy movies to kill a few hours or bring the kids to the theater for a night out. Actors, directors and producers have solidified careers and celebrity statuses by committing to this franchise in a way the fans love most.
"Black Widow" is a movie about an old character. The MCU timeline started in 2008 and will continue indefinitely. This story takes place in 2016, and it's tough not to spoil the movie with a synopsis.
Natasha Romanov, also known as Black Widow and played by Scarlett Johansson, has been a mainline character for over a decade. Fans clamored for a stand-alone movie for years, and she finally got it. However, it came about five years later than it should have.
"Black Widow" also features three great supporting roles from Florence Pugh ("Midsommar," "Little Women"), David Harbour ("Stranger Things") and Rachel Weiz ("The Favourite").
If we split this movie into three acts, the second two are far better than the first. I thought the first third of the film was quite bad before it really picked up excellently. The buildup and the climax were fantastic and really showcased how great of an actress Pugh is.
"Black Widow" isn't going to blow MCU fans away, and it isn't a good starting point if you want to get into the series. My suggestion would be to start from the beginning, even if it will take a considerable amount of time.
What the "Black Widow" release told me is people are ready for theaters to thrive again. This is a lower-tier MCU movie that made over $165 million worldwide in a week on the tail end of a pandemic.
"Black Widow" can also be purchased for rent on Disney+, and the box office total doesn't account for that. On streaming, it made over $60 million. I gave it a 77/100 but enjoyed it much more than its overall score.