Marvel’s Black Widow (2021) | 4K Blu-ray Review

The long overdue solo film  for Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow was finally scheduled to get a release in 2020, but once again was delayed a year due to the pandemic. Finally hitting theaters, streaming, and now onto physical media, let’s see if the presentation of this film lives up to the fan favorite Avenger.

If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon

Black Widow, 4K Blu-ray cover art

Tech Specs:

Format(s):UltraHD/4K Blu-ray (BD-66)
Blu-ray (BD-50)
Digital code
Released By:Disney
Release Date:September 14th, 2021
Video Format / Codec:4K: H.265 (HEVC)
Native 4K, 2160/24p 
(3280 x 2160 at 23.976 frames/sec, progressive)

Full HD, 1080/24p 
(1920 x 1080 at 23.976 frames/sec, progressive)
Digital Intermediate (DI):4K (from digital RAW)
High-Dynamic Range (HDR):HDR10
Aspect Ratio:2.39:1
Audio Format(s):English (4K): Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)

English (BR): DTS-HD MA 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)

Additional tracks also available in French, Spanish and Japanese
Subtitles:English SDH, French, Japanese, Spanish
Packaging:Dual disc snap case w/ slipcover*

*Slipcover may only be available on initial  pressing
Region Coding:4K: Region-free
BR: Region A (locked)

Video Review:

Crisp, clean, bright and punchy. All words that can easily describe the video presentation of this latest Marvel/Disney release on 4K. Being captured digitally in 4K+), the image is noise-free, grain-free and tack sharp. While digitally captured films have been brutalized in the past when transferred to physical media, this is not that case, with the 4K image on the BD-66 disc retaining the clarity and detail, with little sign of compression artifacts on board. Fine textures on costumes, hair, skin, scenery are all present and all clearly defined.

As alluded to above, the image is fundamentally noise-free (and grain-free as it was digitally captured and none was added digitally) and the color palette for this film is what you would expect from a blockbuster superhero movie. Vibrant colors are punchy but not oversaturated. Natural colors remain just that, natural.

While only sporting HDR10, this release does the most with it, maintaining great shadow detail while presenting dark, inky blacks. Whites are very much white without being blown out. Even in the prison escape scene with characters wearing white suits against bright white. Everything is maintained well, with little if any loss of detail, and nothing of note accidentally being pushed toward gray. Explosions, lights and flashes are all bright and squint-inducing.

I had only wished the House of Mouse would spend the extra dollars to give the fans the benefit of dynamic metadata and really stretch what this movie could have looked like. While the gains may not be huge, there were definitely a few scenes where it could have benefitted from the control offered by the dynamic formats.

Computer generated VFX, while not perfect, are very well presented and not made more obvious by the increase in resolution and color gamut.

The included Blu-ray, by contrast, does not look as crisp or as rich and immersive as the 4K counterpart. It does suffer from some elevated blacks and a few banding artifacts, as well as some loss of detail in shadows and highlights. Again these are nitpicks on an otherwise very very good video presentation on the BR, so if you are not in the 4K realm yet, you should be quite pleased with the disc.

Video Score (4K): 4.7 / 5

Video Score (BR): 4.3 / 5

Audio Review:

The audio track on the 4K disc comes fully loaded with Dolby Atmos. And unlike the DTS-HD MA 7.1 track found on the Blu-ray, this one sounds to have a bit more oomph available to it. Typically on Disney releases I find myself having to bump up the volume by a few decibels to keep pace with my normal listening levels, but I only found I had to do that on the Blu-ray (OK, a did bump up the 4K disc by 1 or 2 dB, but nowhere near as much as usual).

The Atmos track is well utilized, if maybe a bit static in some areas. There is good use of the surrounds and heights to bring the listener into the scene, with use of both discrete effects (although could have been more) and ambiance building. The dialog was very clear and well presented in balance with the action through this film. Quieter scenes were appropriately controlled and clear, while still sounding in place with the rest of the more energetic scenes.

And it wouldn’t be a Marvel flick without some strong, impactful use of bass and LFE. This track has it. Explosions will shake your seat, gunshots with punch at your chest and bass drops will tingle the hairs on your arms. Maybe not quite demo-worthy, but it’s pretty darn close.

The 7.1 mix on the Blu-ray track is definitely lacking something on all fronts. While it has some hints of what I described above, it’s like someone heard the Atmos track and decided to just start cutting away to intentionally reduce the quality before dropping it on the BR disc. By comparison to what you get on the 4K, it comes off as a bit flat and underwhelming

Audio Score (4K): 4.6 / 5

Audio Score (BR): 3.8 / 5

Special Features and Packaging:

It’s a Marvel/Disney release, so I really hope your expectations are appropriately set here. Because if you were expecting a cornucopia of special features, you are going to be sorely disappointed. Over the 20-something MCU flicks to hit the 4K/Blu-ray format it’s commonplace for them to just toss fans some light and easy (pronounced “cheap to make”) special features. Here is no exception as we get a short director’s intro and two sub-10 minute featurettes: one about camaraderie of the two female leads  and the other hitting a little bit of everything about the production. Lastly come the obligatory gag reel and deleted scenes. No commentaries, no-long interview, nothing in depth in general.  But, I’m thankful we got something, it’s just it never feels equivalent to the spectacle and budget size for these films.

For packaging, this fits right along with the rest of the MCU slipcover releases. 4K logo and gold bar at the top, red bar at the bottom and a hero image in the middle. Inside we get th two discs, with only the 4K sporting any artwork. Overall, not bad and not great. Really just all sorts of average.

Features Score: 2.5 / 5


For the video and audio presentation alone, and especially if you are a fan of superhero-type movies, this is definitely one to pick up. If you have 4K capability, I would definitely spend the few extra bucks to pick this up, as there was a noticeable upgrade in both fronts over the standard 1080p Blu-ray. Now, if you can wait, this will definitely drop from the new release price tag of $30 to where Marvel 4Ks tend to settle in right around $20, but I cannot say exactly when that will happen, so you’ll have to balance your patience with your budget.

Buy/Upgrade Recommendation: YES!

If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon

Summary and Overall Scores:

In many ways my expectations for this were exactly what I expected from Marvel/Disney, but also some surprises. We expected good picture and audio, and lackluster features and packaging. We got that but the surprise came as the “good” on the picture and audio was actually a step up from what we normally would see. Great visuals and really clean picture with an audio track that came with a little more punch and volume than normal (on the 4K at least). Overall a really good MCU release. I just wish they would stop putting stickers on the front… (ok, I’m done harping on Disney… in this review at least).

Experience Score**: 4.3 / 5  (Very Good)

** Experience score does not take into account the quality of the film itself, just the technical presentation, packaging and included features.

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