We think this movie stands out for:
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Black Widow is an action-packed Marvel superhero adventure that takes place between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. Scarlett Johansson stars as Natasha "Black Widow" Romanoff, who worked for the KGB as a spy from birth until the dissolution of the U.S.S.R., eventually becoming an Avenger. Here, she reconnects with her estranged sister-figure (Florence Pugh) and grapples with her past while being pursued by a deadly new enemy. While a certain amount of suspense is removed by the fact that the film takes place before existing MCU movies (i.e., we know Natasha will survive), violence is frequent and often intense: Expect tons of physical fighting (often with knives), explosions, extreme moments of peril, shoot-outs, and stabbings. Language includes "bitch" and "s--t," and characters drink alcohol in moderation.The movie's feminist story is ultimately about promoting women's independence from men who believe that women exist to be used by them. Characters exhibit courage and teamwork, and there are themes of family that may resonate with viewers who've experienced adoption, foster care, or feelings of abandonment.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After a schism breaks up the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. targets BLACK WIDOW for arrest. As Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) goes underground to hide, she's contacted by Yelena (Florence Pugh), an important person from her past. Learning she has unfinished business, Natasha reunites with former colleagues to take down a nefarious enemy.
Is it any good?
While it took far too long for Black Widow to get her own solo film, she puts her moment to good use, blowing up the patriarchy in epic style. What makes Black Widow (the character) unique among the Avengers is that she doesn't have superpowers or super tech: Her brain and her body combine to make her a lethal weapon. But as Natasha returns to her roots, we learn that she's actually not entirely unique: There's a whole widow program, with thousands of "graduates." Natasha has always been a mysterious figure, wracked with guilt from her unwitting work as an assassin for the Russian government. In Black Widow, the Iron Curtain is pulled back to reveal the people she grew up with and the trauma she endured. More than the tragedy of being programmed as a killer, the film's heart beats with the emotional weight of losing parents, more than once -- and wanting your family to be better. While many films deal with issues related to adoption, foster care, guardians, and abandonment, few of them do it with full sensitivity. This one does.
While the male Avengers are always giving one another a hard time and poking fun, no-nonsense Black Widow is usually left alone. Going home again means that Natasha finally gets some long overdue razzing -- and it's pure delight. It's also fair to say that the movie's costumes, hair, and makeup are more aligned with female sensibilities than fanboys': They're functionally stylish (Yelena's praise of pockets is on point), and you get the sense that they're dressing to impress themselves. Nothing low cut, no ridiculous lashes, and absolutely no high heels (note to Marvel merchandising: Those combat boots are everything). No question, this is Marvel's most feminist film to date, and it's a winner -- executed in a way that will leave men cheering just as women have been cheering the male Avengers and others for decades. The action sequences are mesmerizing, perhaps even more fascinating than a typical superhero film because Natasha and Yelena are purely physical fighters, not "powered." That may help make this a particularly meaningful film: Unlike other female superhero projects (Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, WandaVision), Black Widow is about women who've become wonders and marvels thanks to their own cunning and strength.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about women's roles in comics and superhero films. What makes Natasha Romanoff a role model? How is her intelligence apparent throughout the movie? What about the other women?
How does Black Widow compare to other female superheroes' solo films? How has the depiction of Black Widow changed over the years? Do you think having a female director and writer working on this film affected the way she was portrayed?
Black Widow has been in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2010, before Captain Marvel was introduced in the MCU and before Wonder Woman was brought into the DC Extended Universe -- and they got their own solo films first. Why do you think it took so long for Natasha to get her own movie?
- In theaters: July 9, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: July 9, 2021
- Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz
- Director: Cate Shortland
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- Character strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 133 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence/action, some language and thematic material
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: July 12, 2021
Our editors recommend
For kids who love superhero adventures
Find more movies that help kids build character.
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch