Black Widow

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Black Widow Movie Poster Image
 Popular with kidsParents recommend
Strong women in ScarJo superhero film; violence, language.
  • PG-13
  • 2021
  • 133 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 20 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 66 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Themes of women's independence from those (especially men) who would control them, sisterhood, and finding your family. Teamwork and creative thinking help characters succeed. Examines concept of complicity when it comes to helping those who would do others harm: If you're not directly involved, are you still culpable?

Positive Role Models & Representations

Women are strong, clever, intelligent, powerful -- even more so when they work together. Natasha has courage and integrity; she and other female colleagues put themselves in danger to save thousands of women. Alexei has many flaws but also genuinely cares about Natasha and Yelena. Dreykov is a manipulative, selfish villain. All main characters are White; diverse representation within supporting cast.

Violence

Heavy live-action comic book violence, including physical combat with knives, punches, hitting with a blunt instrument, kicks. Explosions, destruction, a massive avalanche put people in peril. Child threatens soldiers with a gun. Shoot-outs. Frequent life-endangering peril, including vehicle crashes and severe falls. Children are shown to be in deep distress while being separated from their parents. A montage of the Red Room's training process reveals it to be ruthless; many young girls don't survive. Upsetting scenes where surgery/medical procedures are implied or getting underway.

Sex

Moment of innuendo between a married couple.

Language

Strong language includes "ass," "bitch," "dammit," and "s--t."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking vodka and beer in moderation for gatherings or to talk. 

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 WarScarlett 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bybeacon hiller July 10, 2021

Human trafficking scenes at beginning are intense

We tried to watch this movie with my daughter (9y) and son (11y) and sadly hadn't read the reviews from the teens which I now see capture what was hard in... Continue reading
Adult Written byKeeshac80 July 17, 2021

Very dark/violent

I wish I had known how dark and violent this movie was before I took my 13 year old to see it.
All of the Avengers movies have some violence but this one was m... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byjesusfreak5623 July 9, 2021

Well done movie NOT for young kids

This movie was very well done, but not your typical, lighthearted marvel movie. The theme of this movie highly surrounds the real reality of human trafficking,... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymarvel2007 July 11, 2021

Themes of trafficking. Not for young kids

So this movie was amazing. The cursing wasn’t that bad. My main concern would be the themes of trafficking young girls. There is a long montage at the beginning... Continue reading

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?

  • What do you think about the way superhero movies depict violence? Is there a difference in the way you react to realistic vs. stylized violence? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • 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?

  • How do the characters in Black Widow demonstrate courage and teamwork? What about Natasha's sense of compassion and empathy? Why are those all important character strengths?

Movie details

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