Black Widow is the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and directed by Cate Shorthand. After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Natasha Maximoff is on the run from authorities. While on the run, she has to confront a dark part of her red ledger. After receiving items from her long-lost sister tied to that past, Natasha must deal with her history and fix the broken relationship with her extended lost family and correct a wrong from her past.
Full thoughts and Review of Black Widow
I am puzzled bit by the existence of this movie. I’m aware of the Black Widow character in the comics, T.V., and other media. I’ve also seen her character arc going from a side character in Iron Man 2 to a heroic sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame. I’m not questioning why the Black Widow movie is being made, but why tell the story of an already dead character. It’s like this movie is going to be the Solo: A Star Wars Story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) when I heard about its release. When you release a movie of an already spoken-for character in prior movies, you know that nothing major will happen to them in the film. You know that they won’t die or be harmed in any way. I wouldn’t be as bothered if the film were an origin story, but taking place between two movies and explaining what a character did during that time, might be better as a mini-series than a full-length film in the MCU.
Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) on the run from Thaddeus Ross after violating the Sokovia Accords and the Events of Captain America: The Civil War. While on the run, she receives an item from her sister Yelena. An item that is key with freeing other girls abducted to become Black Widow assassins and lose their free will. Trying to right a wrong of Natasha’s past was a good idea for a story and movie. It worked, but I feel that this was one of many stories of Back Widow that might be better had this been a limited run or mini-series.
Scarlett Johnson and Florence Pugh are fine as Natasha and Yelena, respectively. Although, it feels like Scarlett took a step back in her character. They did have some moments of chemistry between two fighting sisters that went from physical to verbal fighting and spats. Both also did an excellent job with having to confront their past, although more so for Natasha. Black Widow shows a rather dark moment from Natasha’s past, something other MCU movies haven’t done yet that I can recall. Yelena is also set up as the movie feels like a sort of origin story for her.
Rachel Weisz is Melina Vostokoff, the mother figure to the group and one of the scientists of the Red Room. Another good character was that it was hard for me to gauge her true motivations, giving me an alright twist to the story. David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian was the best of all the characters of the movie. He nailed the Russian Super Soldier that was the father figure to Natasha and Yelena. Alexei a strong fighter but still flawed; recalling counts of battling Captain America in the past, that didn’t make sense. I like how he tried to show confidence and put up a tough man front. This act showed where Alexei’s weakness showed, as he practically abandons his daughters at the beginning of the film and keeps a tough guy front but not apologizing to them for his actions.
I started to enjoy the movie when this “family” came together. Each character is brought into the story and plays a part in getting to the Red Room, A Black Widow facility that Natasha and Yelena are trying to get to, free other girls controlled and turned into Black Widows by General Dreykov, and shut down permanently. As they get together in the second act, all the problems with each other are brought out. They get resolved, and each character comes to terms with each other or their problems. It made the end of the movie more satisfying when they worked together.
The main villains are General Dreykov and Taskmaster. General Dreykov is the head of the Red Room and Black Widow program. Dreykov is believed to be dead by Natasha, the final act of trust to bring her in S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers. There isn’t any explanation of how he survived, but I’m OK with that. Ray Winstone was fine a Dreykov, but I didn’t find him a threat to Black Widow because of the place in the timeline in the MCU where the story takes place. Taskmaster is probably a formidable foe for Natasha and Yelena. Taskmaster is Dreykov’s mysterious soldier that can learn and mimic any fighting style that Taskmaster sees. Taskmaster can already mimic Captain America, Winter Soldier, and even Spider-Man. I initially thought Taskmaster to be a Spider-Man villain and didn’t realize the scope of this character. Taskmaster did provide some good fight scenes and a twist that might be somewhat predictable.
The action was pretty good. I feel some moments went over the top, and I wondered how Natasha and Yelena survived what they did, given that they had no superhuman abilities. The pacing of the action and story was off for me. The film’s beginning had lots of action and a little story that didn’t balance well for me. The middle of the film had the opposite effect where we saw more story and less action. The film balanced out at the end with action and story.
Once we got the balance, I did start to understand the why of the story. Black Widow was just a closure story of Natasha Romanov. We get to see a wrong that she did and wanted to fix and correct. Natasha is confronting her past and putting a stop to what Dreykov was doing not only to her but to other girls he “acquired” and turning into Black Widow soldiers for his bidding. It was OK, but I remember her say there is “a lot of red in her ledger” I know this is one of the pieces to Natasha’s past that explains who she is and what she’s done to earn that reputation.
It’s weird because Black Widow could be better as a stand-alone movie or series than a part of the MCU. It’s doesn’t seem to retcon anything in the MCU but bridge Black Widow and what happened to her after Captain America: Civil War to Avengers: Infinity War. The end scene might not make sense to anyone unless you’ve watched The Falcon and Winter Solider on Disney Plus. It still can be an entertaining movie for Marvel fans and moviegoers. But I feel it’s a weird pause until the potential of another film that can move the next phase of the MCU forward, possibly Shang Chi, The Eternals, or maybe Spiderman: No Way Home. We will have to wait and see.
Summarized thoughts and review of Black Widow
Is this film the Solo of the MCU? Not entirely. In the scope of the big picture, This film doesn’t move anything forward with phase 4 of the MCU. On its own, the movie is good, at least after the reunion of the family. The characters are my favorite aspect and kept my interest in the film. The action was alright, but it had some crazy, unbelievable moments for a human avenger with no superpowers that could survive unscathed. This movie dodged being a low point in this franchise, but it came close a few times. Watchable and likable if you are a Marvel fan, but missing out on this movie, you’ll probably not be lost in the scope of the story unless you count the potential setup of another Disney Plus series or film.