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Black Widow first reactions praise "instant MCU icon" Florence Pugh

Black Widow
(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

Black Widow first appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe eleven years ago. She's taken quite the journey since Iron Man 2, most notably, perishing in Avengers: Endgame. But prequel rules allow for her return to the big screen in the long-awaited – seriously, it's been YEARS – solo pic, Black Widow. 

First reactions to the movie have landed, heralding the arrival of Florence Pugh to the superhero fold with one critic hailing her as an "instant MCU icon." Plenty of praise remains for Scarlett Johansson, whose last turn as Natasha Romanoff finally gave her the chance, according to one critic "to pour everything into the role." 

We've pulled together a mix of those initial reactions, to give you a taste of those early screenings: 

Courtney Howard, Variety: "Black Widow is excellent. An exhilarating shot of adrenaline. Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh nail the banter and ballet-like stunts. David Harbour is absolutely terrific. Big action set pieces are thrilling, propulsive, and capably constructed. Multi-layered thematic resonance."

Collider's Perri Nemiroff: "Dug Black Widow a good deal! Was kinda worried about watching this story unfold knowing what’s to come in Endgame, that it might diminish the stakes, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, this is the kind of prequel story that feels bound to enhance other installments of the MCU."

Kate Erbland, Indiewire: "Actually bruising fighting and chase sequences, a go-for-broke Florence Pugh performance (does she turn in any other kind? nope), and a first-half that's intimate and talky and kind of funny in a new way for the MCU; yes, I enjoyed this."

Julia Alexander, IGN: "I really liked Black Widow!! One of the funnier MCU movies, with a ton of self-referential jokes for longtime fans, enough self-awareness to make the absurdity work. Florence Pugh and David Harbour steal the show. Definitely has some issues. But dug it! Absolutely see it in theaters!"

Dan Casey, Nerdist: "Black Widow is far from my favorite MCU entry, but there's still plenty to like for diehard fans. Florence Pugh steals the show as Yelena Belova. Putting Natasha Romanoff in the spotlight was *long* overdue, so I'm glad it finally happened."

Gabriella Geisenger, Digital Spy: "Black Widow is exactly what fans have been waiting for! Apart from some overly long action scenes that disrupt its pacing, the film is elevated by newcomers Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, and Florence Pugh – whose humor and chemistry shake up the standard Marvel fare."

Brandon Davis, ComicBook.com: "Black Widow is 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. Director Cate Shortland nailed it. Bravo."

Erik Davis, Fandango: "Marvel movies are back! Black Widow is a tense, action-packed spy thriller that truly completes Natasha’s story in a visceral & emotional way. Florence Pugh CRUSHES it and is an instant MCU icon. This is like the MCU's Bond movie w/ shades of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE & THELMA & LOUISE."

Of course, fans will be able to make their own minds up on the first Marvel movie to hit theaters in two years very soon. Black Widow opens in theaters on July 8 and on Disney Plus Premiere Access on July 8.

If you want to go into the movie knowing what's what, check our guide to where Black Widow fits into the Marvel timeline

Gem Seddon

I'm GamesRadar+'s west coast Entertainment News Reporter. I'm a bit obsessed with all things Aliens and Terminator. You can find my byline on our best Netflix movies and best Netflix shows lists.