It has been two very long years, and though fans have been somewhat satiated with the release of WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki, there is nothing quite like an MCU movie. Black Widow can finally, officially be counted as the MCU's 24th release, and it's about time.
Set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Black Widow has a very specific story to tell. As it shows Natasha on the run from the US government before being brought back into her old life, this was very much a stand alone story.
As such, this meant that there were no gratuitous cameos from any other Avengers. Instead, Black Widow was able to bring in and introduce to the MCU a whole cast of new characters from Natasha's past.
Some of these were more developed, and simply stronger characters others, with certain ones already on the path to having long and glorious careers in the MCU. However, at the other end of this spectrum, the movie also included some instantly forgettable characters, and one of the worst casting decisions the franchise has ever made...
It's no secret that the MCU has had something of an antagonist problem, particularly throughout Phases One and Two. Phase Three went some way to correcting this with the likes of Thanos, Killmonger, and the Vulture, but the first movie of Phase Four has introduced possibly one of the worst MCU villains ever.
Black Widow saw Nat come up against Dreykov, an adversary she thought she had killed years before, but their reunion was worthy of very little awe or sense of occasion. In all honestly, it was boring. He was built up as this indestructible threat that needed Natasha to bring her whole family back together, but he was frustratingly underwhelming.
Dreykov ran the Red Room, and trained his Widows to start and end wars at his own command. To ensure their unwavering compliance, he literally controlled their minds. The villain that was first mentioned by Loki in The Avengers had the potential to be great, but he ultimately left a lot to be desired.
Marvel Studios rarely ever misses the mark when it comes to casting, but Ray Winstone as Dreykov was a wide miss. He simply doesn't have the acting chops to carry such a villain, and the Russian accent with the constant Cockney twang made him impossible to take seriously. A different casting decision may have helped the character, but as it was, Dreykov could be the weakest MCU villain since Malekith.