'Black Widow' Scene Breakdown: Scarlett Johansson And Florence Pugh Walk Us Through A Fight Sequence

Marvel has had a history of taking promising filmmakers who may have previously flown under the radar, and putting them in a position to succeed on a national level. Some accuse the studio of sanding down all their unique edges to fit these talents into the ongoing franchise machine and, personally, I can see where they're coming from. But sometimes it's nice to be reminded that there is still plenty of craft and intention put into individual moments in these MCU movies, and that's just what this new behind-the-scenes clip does.

The New York Times has an "Anatomy of a Scene" video series where filmmakers break down one particular sequence of their new release. In their latest one, director Cate Shortland takes on one of the scrappiest hand-to-hand fight sequences in Black Widow and gives fans a look under the hood at just what goes into bringing these comic book moments to life. You can see it for yourself below.

Black Widow Scene Breakdown

In this early moment from Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) cross paths for the first time in two decades. The former sisters are naturally distrustful of one another and, as Shortland describes in the video, this is reflected in the nuts-and-bolts filmmaking of the scene.

What's In A Scene?

The video starts by informing us that fight choreographer Rob Inch played an integral role in bringing out the subtext throughout the tense meeting — "two girls coming back together as strangers, but they're also family, and they're also killers," as Shortland puts it — and channeling it through the actual action. Shortland also adds that they were able to do a significant amount of filming without the need for the (traditionally action-focused) second unit.

This is partly thanks to Pugh's former training as a dancer combined with Johansson's countless hours of training in previous movies, which allowed the two of them to be physically present without an over-reliance on stunt doubles (though it's still fairly obvious when and where the editing cuts around the action to hide that). The video brings the environment surrounding the fight to attention as well, emphasizing that shots were filmed through doorways wherever possible and not at eye-level to strip away any sense of control and cleanness on the audience's part.

If this video has you itching for a much deeper dive into specific movie scenes, I can't recommend the YouTube video essayist Nerdwriter enough. Much of these sorts of aspects tend to go unnoticed by general audiences, but taking a couple minutes to zero in on just one specific sequence and question the rationale behind every decision that went into it can be a fantastic learning tool for fans and aspiring filmmakers alike.