Marvel movies are back! After delays due to the pandemic, Black Widow is now out. As the highly-anticipated swan song of sorts for Scarlett Johannson’s Natasha Romanoff, the film also stars Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz and O-T Fagbenle.

Shadow and Act was on-hand for the film’s global press conference with Kevin Feige, director Kate Shortland and the cast. The film essentially wraps up the story of Natasha (though the film chronologically takes place before Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame) and introduces Pugh’s Yelena Belova.

Shortland explained, “From the beginning when we spoke about the film, we knew that it had to speak to two things, which was Natasha as an individual and then what had happened to her and who she was at the beginning of the film, which was she was completely alone. And then, I wanted it to be really fun. I kinda thought it should be like a fairground ride, so really exhilarating. [And] I suppose we just thought we wanted it to be both, but we wanted it to be raw and that those things would seamlessly mesh together.  So it was always like putting her at the center of it, but making sure that we didn’t let the trauma of her past drag it down, that rather that we came up to answer it.  And we often did that with humor.” 

Pugh, who is primed to have a major role in the MCU going forward, makes a huge splash in the film, with many critics considering her performance to be the standout part of the movie.

On Yelena and also the character’s relationship with Natasha, Pugh explained, I think from the get-go, in the script it was very obvious that they have this connection and they have this relationship.  And ultimately despite her skillset, she is that wonderfully annoying young assistant that says all the right things in all the wrong times. So that wasn’t hard at all for me to get into that. 

The actress also talked about figuring out Yelena and cities one of the most fun parts being the exploration of how she can explore life now post-Red Room. ‘She can buy her own clothes, she can buy a vest that has lots of pockets and she’s really excited by it,” Pugh said. “And I think Cate really encouraged me to find, you know the oddities of her and-and kinda lean on that. So much so that in the scene, you can see that she’s flourishing. She’s becoming her own being. I really found it [as] such a wonderful and creative space. And just to have fun.  I think that was the overall thing.  You know, these two sisters have so much fun together amongst all of the pain they’ve shared.”

Johannson, an MCU mainstay for years, serves as the entry point for so many newcomers to now come within this universe.

“It’s exciting because, I mean I’m partial, [but] I love our Marvel family and I know how special it is and how special the experience is making these films.  And so I’m just excited for other actors to come in and [my] hope is that they feel similarly. It’s wonderful to see people come into something with excitement and wide-eyed and get to experience, the incredible world of Marvel and making these huge productions. I mean we all have been part of obviously big productions but I think because Marvel feels so familial, that’s something about it that’s it’s just a very unique, warm, inviting place. 

Black Widow is in theaters now and also streaming on Disney+ Premier Access.