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SYFY WIRE Black Widow

Black Widow's Florence Pugh steals the show in 'one of Marvel's best' films to date, per first reactions

By Josh Weiss
Black Widow: What to Know About the Highly Anticipated Marvel Movie

Following over a year of COVID-19 delays, Marvel Studios' Black Widow is finally — FINALLY! — back on track for a wide release early next month. The project's title may bear the codename of Scarlett Johansson's Nathasha Romanoff, but it's a different Russian assassin, Yelena Belova (played by Midsommar's Florence Pugh), who apparently steals the entire movie.

That seems to be the general concensus among certain members of the press who have been able to check out early access screenings of the film, which is only the second MCU movie to be directed by a woman — Cate Shortland — and the very first to adopt a dual distribution model (it'll arrive on Disney+ for an extra fee the same day it starts playing at theaters nationwide).

"The acting is great," tweeted SYFY WIRE's own Brian Silliman. "Florence Pugh especially. I loved Yelena, you'll love Yelena, everyone will love Yelena." And if that wasn't enough to convince you, Brian also went with a #YelenaBelova hashtag. It's a good thing, too, because the character's appearance in Black Widow isn't a one-off — she's also playing a role in the Hawkeye series.

With that said, Johansson still gets to shine in her last hurrah in as the long-running character (let's not forget she's dead in the current, SACRED timeline).'s Brandon David described the Phae 4 entry as "one of Marvel's best solo films. Start to finish, the movie is great. Excellent surprises, emotional character moments, bad-ass action, and Scarlett Johansson finally gets to pour everything into the role."

Set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Black Widow finds Natasha on the run from the government (mainly William Hurt's Thaddeus Ross).

With nowhere else to turn, Natasha joins forces with her old Russian "family" members: Yelena and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) — both of whom are also deadly killers — the USSR's answer to Captain America, Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian (David Harbour). Together, they'll set out to free the Red Room from Dreykov (Ray Winstone), a holdover of the Soviet spy era who's cooked up a Frankenstein-esque baddie known as Taskmaster.

Erik Davis of Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes wrote that we're all in "a tense, action-packed spy thriller that truly completes Natasha’s story in a visceral & emotional way. Florence Pugh CRUSHES it & is an instant MCU icon. This is like the MCU's Bond movie w/ shades of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE & THELMA & LOUISE."

See what else folks are saying below...

Black Widow will climb up the water spout and into theaters Friday, July 9. For those of you who'd rather see the film from the comfort of your own home, you'll need to start a Disney+ subscription before adding on an extra "Premier Access" fee of $29.99. Same deal as Mulan, Raya, and Cruella.