‘Black Widow’ debuts: The cast talks about the “raw” fights, Natasha’s sacrifice, and more

Marvel Studios

For Marvel movie fans, the wait is finally over: Black Widow swings into theaters today.

The movie is set before Natasha Romanoff’s heroic sacrifice in Avengers: EndgameScarlett Johansson‘s character returns to her past, teaming up with her adoptive “family” of spies, including Florence Pugh as Ylena, and their “parents,” Rachel Weisz as Melina and David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov, AKA the Red Guardian, Russia’s answer to Captain America.

The film has the re-assembled team taking on the cruel “Black Widow program” that turns girls into assassins.

They also face off with a baddie known as Taskmaster, who can mimic any opponent he faces. For director Cate Shortland, the order of the day was to make the fights feel real. “The character can do what [Natasha] can do, basically, so she can’t…use those skills,” the filmmaker explained at a recent press conference.

“[The] fights became messy and raw and that was really fun,” she said, adding the goal was, “watching humans fight, not superheroes.”

Johansson explained her character’s eventual sacrifice weighed on her prequel’s performance: “We knew that in this film she had to evolve into a place [where] she had resolved the trauma from her past…that she felt like a different person moving forward…”

Stranger Things veteran Harbour gets big laughs as his past-his-prime Red Guardian. The actor said he’d love to face off with the current Captain America: “I love Anthony Mackie just as an actor, too, and now…whoever wears the suit…Alexei hates that guy and who he represents.”

Harbour adds, “Some of the funniest stuff to me is where [Alexei] is like, ‘[Cap] actually was a colleague of mine…We had a lot of respect for each other.’ I just think that that dynamic would be really fun to see…”

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