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Black Widow is the family movie that F9 wanted to be (sorry, Vin Diesel). Black Widow is a story of what truly makes a family, family. There are fights (God knows I’ve fought my brothers many times), there are hugs, laughs, and shared experiences, ultimately asking a question: is family defined by shared genetics or common bonds?

Black Widow tells the background story of Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), our favorite ex-Russian spy extraordinaire turned Avenger. The movie opens in 1995 with a young Natasha and family, her mother Melina (Rachel Weisz), father Alexei (David Harbour), and younger sister Yelena (Florence Pugh). We slowly find out that this unit is not connected through genes, but they posed as a family for three years in America while Alexei infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. During this time they bonded as if their family was real, but their separation was inevitable. The movie is the reassembling of this makeshift family 21 years later, uncovering the scars and trauma caused by their separation. Natasha ruminates on what makes a family real.

There are multiple scenes where Natasha is confronted with the conundrum that this fake family is somehow real. When Natasha is first reunited with her sister Yelena, they open with a physical fight, followed by a conversation revealing how much they still care for each other. Then, after they break their father out of prison, he oozes with pride for his accomplished adult daughters. Ironically, he is proud of their “ledgers dripping red” (translation: crimes they’ve committed), and that’s the very thing Natasha wants to be rid of. Finally, Natasha is both reunited with and quickly ousted by her own mother, before Melina realizes that she’s made a grave mistake. Yet, through all of the misunderstandings and trauma these characters show that, in the end, they somehow still love each other.

John 1:12-13 states that we have the right to become children of God, not of natural birth but through the receiving and believing in Jesus. The thing that makes our faith family real is not genetics, but a deep spiritual connection that leads to real love. Family is not perfect; we don’t grow at the same rate, nor do we all have the exact same views. Family is about fighting to stand together, caring for each other when we hurt, and forgiving each other even when we don’t know that’s what we need. The chief connection is always love. You’d be hard-pressed to Google for family quotes that don’t either explicitly state love or encompass the idea of it. This is what God is impressing on us by “adopting” us into his family—he is adopting us into his love.

We learn through the story of Natasha that we don’t have to be connected through genes to be in the same family, but we do need to exemplify love for each other. Natasha fights her sister, disowns her father, and berates her mother, yet at the end of the day she forgives and risks her life for their safety because that’s love and that’s what real family does for one another. Because of this family theme, this movie was therapeutic for me. Thank you Black Widow. (Streaming on Disney+)

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