After a delay that lasted over a year due to the pandemic, Disney's Black Widow finally hit theaters this past weekend - and boy did it leave a mark!
The film grossed over $218 million worldwide during its debut weekend. This includes the American box office, international box offices, and premiere purchases on the streaming service Disney+. This marks the biggest opening weekend for a film since the pandemic began, and the third-largest domestic opening for an origin story behind Black Panther and Captain Marvel.
Black Widow was well worth the wait. The critical response has been highly positive, with Brian Tallerico at RogerEbert.com writing:
"The best aspects of Black Widow echo the ‘70s spy movie tone of one of the best films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Director Shortland and writer Eric Pearson (an MCU vet behind both Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, along with Thor, Spider-Man, Ant-Man films and the ABC TV shows) unabashedly pull from beloved action and espionage classics with elements that echo the Bourne films, Mission: Impossible, The Manchurian Candidate, and, most of all, James Bond (a clip from 007 even plays on a television in the film). And yet Black Widow incorporates all of these spy-action greats into something that feels alive and original on its own terms, thanks largely to tight action choreography by Shortland and a great cast that centers four very engaging performances from Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, and, most of all, Florence Pugh."
I saw the film on Sunday with my dad and sister - we thoroughly enjoyed it! Natasha Romanov has long been one of my favorite characters, and it was exciting to see her shine in her own film. Don't forget to stick around for after the credits - the tidbit there almost had me leaping out of my seat (and is especially fun if you've been keeping up with all of the Disney+ shows).
In other Marvel news, it was announced last week that Marvel Studios would no longer require multi-movie contracts from their actors when they sign on for a role. In the past, fans have been able to project guesses (sometimes accurately!) as to a character's trajectory based entirely on how long their contract was and how many films they had left.
The studio used to do this for the sake of consistency - they wanted to keep the same actor in a role until their character arc was complete in order to further strengthen the continuity of the story and the interest of their audiences. It's not often that someone steps into a role and takes over a character in the MCU; off the top of my head, I can only think of it happening with Warmachine/James Rhodes (formerly played by Terrance Howard but replaced by Don Cheadle) and The Hulk/Bruce Banner (formerly played by Tim Norton but replaced by Mark Ruffalo).
Now, with the franchise well established after 10 years of incredible films, Marvel president Kevin Feige says that those lengthy contracts are no longer necessary. "Really, what we want are people that come in, are excited to be in the universe, are excited at the opportunity to do more things, as opposed to being locked into contractual obligations."
While many of the actors have enjoyed their tenure in the movies, the contract locks made it difficult to pursue other work because of the rigorous filming requirements and schedules. This also means that the fans no longer have the crutch of contracts to use as a guessing tool about how long a character might stick around for.
Are you a Marvel fan, and have you seen Black Widow yet? Share with me!