‘No Time to Die’ Gives Daniel Craig’s James Bond Era the Respectful Send-Off That Scarlett Johansson Didn’t Get From ‘Black Widow’
No Time to Die and Black Widow are both huge Hollywood movies with big audience expectations. Their most recent installments seek to conclude Daniel Craig’s James Bond era and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. The films both suffered from coronavirus (COVID-19) delays. Audience anticipation only grew stronger over time to see these actors play their roles for the final time. No Time to Die gives Craig’s Bond era the send-off that Johansson also deserved in Black Widow.
[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers from No Time to Die and Black Widow.]
Daniel Craig and Scarlett Johansson defined their characters for years
Craig’s Bond era started with 2006’s Casino Royale. Loyal franchise fans were initially disappointed with his casting at the time of the announcement. However, the finished movie changed a lot of people’s minds. The following four installments didn’t all get rave reviews, but he has successfully defined Bond over the years. No Time to Die is the 25th movie in the franchise, but it’s also Craig’s fifth and final Bond movie.
Johansson’s first Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff appearance was in Iron Man 2. Audiences have praised Marvel for this particular casting decision. She has been a Marvel Cinematic Universe regular ever since, ultimately becoming an Avenger. However, Black Widow sacrificed herself in exchange to obtain the Soul Stone to save the universe in Avengers: Endgame. Black Widow was a chance at making the solo movie that audiences have been begging for.
‘No Time to Die’ and ‘Black Widow’ gave very different send-offs
No Time to Die revolves entirely around Bond. There’s a romance plot with Madeleine (Léa Seydoux) that gives her more depth than in Spectre. No Time to Die introduces new 007 agent Nomi (Lashana Lynch), intelligence operative Paloma (Ana de Armas), and villain Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek).
Nevertheless, the movie never strays too far from Bond. He struggles with a broken heart after Madeleine’s perceived betrayal, a new generation of agents, his discovery of a child he never knew he had, and a plot that threatens the entire world.
In the end, Bond manages to stop Lyutsifer’s nefarious plan, but at a steep cost. He chooses to sacrifice his own life as a payload of missiles rain down on him. It’s a tremendously emotional conclusion that doesn’t lead into another movie. It ties up Craig’s Bond era beautifully and gives the character an epic and emotional send-off.
Meanwhile, Johansson is hardly the star of her own movie, at no fault of her own. Eric Pearson’s screenplay gives all of the emotional weight to newcomer Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh). Romanoff is given a couple of great fight sequences against Taskmaster, but otherwise, the movie isn’t really about her.
Black Widow is an ensemble movie that’s intended to set up the MCU’s Phase Four. Yelena and Alexei, the Red Guardian (David Harbour), are designed to be fan favorites. It’s essentially a passing of the torch, which is disrespectful to a character who deserved to have a story of her own. She should have been the focal point, just as Craig is in No Time to Die.
Black Widow‘s after-credits scene features Yelena at Romanoff’s grave. A potentially touching sequence is turned into another major setup with Valentina (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) recruiting Yelena. Even in a post-credits scene at her grave, Romanoff is purposefully overshadowed by cameos.
Strong character send-offs are a sign of respect for the audience
No Time to Die is an exceptional example of how to properly close out a character’s journey. Craig’s Bond is the lead of his own story. The writing highlights other characters, but never at the cost of overshadowing the movie’s focus. His final farewell is intimate, emotional, and impactful.
Black Widow had the opportunity to give Romanoff a proper solo film. Avengers: Endgame already showed her death scene, but another character inherits her emotional journey here. The post-credits scene was a chance for an impactful final send-off. However, Marvel decided to switch that out for a chance to establish the Hawkeye Disney+ series.
Craig and Johansson have played their respective roles for years. They have established an impactful bond with the audience. They both deserve a proper send-off that’s respectful to their time playing the character. No Time to Die succeeds in this where Black Widow stumbles.