Imagine being an MCU fan as of the last two years. The superhero film franchise and its “Phase 3” story arc came to an epic end in 2019 with “Avengers: Endgame” (story-wise) and “Spider-Man: Far from Home (arc-wise). Phase 4 was slated to begin in 2020 with the premiere of the mid-quel “Black Widow” starring Scarlett Johansson, only for the COVID-19 pandemic to shelve its release until 2021. Come this year and the situation has only slightly improved, but Marvel Studios finally brought the Black Widow to cinemas and Disney+ streaming this July 9. And apparently, the pandemic-limited box office was still a monumental opening.

Comic Book Resources has it that the opening of Marvel’s “Black Widow” may have just surpassed that of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in late 2019. Its opening weekend haul tallied up to $215 million, with returns from both the cinematic and Disney+ Premiere Access halves of its release, compared to the $176 million opening weekend box office take of “Rise of Skywalker” in December 2019. Taking only the US domestic returns, “Black Widow” making off with $80 million speaks of growing confidence with moviegoers in cinemas over a year since the pandemic began.

As proof, of the $215 million from the “Black Widow” opening, only $60 million came from the pay-to-watch Premiere Access of the film via Disney+, which is currently available in the Americas, Western Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East, India, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia. That means a greater number of people did watch this long-awaited MCU film on movie theaters rather than streaming, and somehow it beat the anticipated final chapter of the Skywalker Saga from “Star Wars” nearly two years ago.

While part of the MCU Phase 4, “Black Widow” actually takes place during Phase 3, after “Captain America: Civil War” (2016). With ex-SHIELD Agent Black Widow/Natasha Romanov a fugitive from the law, she goes into hiding in Europe where she crosses paths with her former foster family, particularly her “sister” Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), who like her was put into Russia’s Red Room training facility to become a spy/assassin codenamed Black Widow. This solo outing of the character, as directed by Cate Shortland, is Scarlett Johansson’s final reprise as Agent Romanov, following Natasha’s canon death in “Avengers: Endgame.” “Black Widow” will be followed in MCU Phase 4 by “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” starring Simu Liu, this coming to cinemas September 3.

Image courtesy of Forbes