There has been a lot of criticism directed at Marvel for taking too long to make a Black Widow origin story. Development for this film can be traced all the way back to 2004, but when the character’s films rights went back to Marvel, the project just sat on the shelf. Now that superhero films are the big box office generators of Hollywood, and arguably because Wonder Woman was such a big hit, there was no excuse to let this project gather dust any further. The patience of Marvel fans has been rewarded somewhat by Black Widow, but I think many will still be skeptical of where the MCU can take us next.
The Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff character has been in the MCU for a long time and seemed such an insignificant Avenger when putting her next to the charisma of Iron Man and the literal god of thunder. However, she has developed so much over the years, this film should be a celebration of how she has changed over the course of a decade of film appearances. Scarlet Johansson is clearly having a blast playing this character and many of the things you love about Black Widow in the films she’s appeared in are the things you are going to love here. I guess if MCU films have one constant positive going for them is that they are reliably satisfying to the hardcore fans. If you love the style of action these films can bring, you’ll like the action here, the recipe hasn’t changed because it continues to work.
We get introduced to Natasha’s sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) and I’m just going to say that I identified early on that this film would not work unless the filmmakers could nail their rekindled sisterly bond, and thankfully it gets a pass from me. Scarlet and Florence bounce brilliantly off one another with their performances and I love how the knowledge of their time as surrogate daughters plays a part in their relationship. While Natasha had some clue to the truth about her childhood, Yelena was too young at the time to think that it was all a fraud, so of course once she discovered it, the weight of that revelation has a much heavy toll on her.
As a spectacle, Black Widow is fantastic to look at when it comes to its action pieces, especially in the final moments of the film. the choreography is very clean, some might possibly say that it’s too clean and I can see where they would be coming from because most film action is rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed again, and of course eventually, you’ll be able to pick out these moments and it takes you away from how natural it feels. But at the same time, this is a superhero film after all, and flawless action is what we’re after.
David Harbour of Stranger Things fame is in this film as Alexei/Red Guardian, Russia’s answer to Captain America and Natasha’s “father”. I think a lot of people are going to enjoy the role he has in this film, as a hero who’s has been out of action for years, looking to relive his glory days. He makes a lot of slip-ups as Red Guardian, but it’s always the simple things we just expect, such as not having an earpiece of wearing a costume he has to really try to fit into again. There is a bit of a gripe I have with his character which is that he talks a lot about getting back into the suit again, but in all honest, I didn’t think there was enough of him in his action scenes. He does have a one on one fight with Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko), one of two villains in the film, but there wasn’t much the character does that convinces me that he is to Russia what Captain America is to the US.
Before you get to the core of the story, you will have to sit through a lot of build up which can be a bore at times. There’s no denying that it would be essential to show the audience what happened to Black Widow after the events of Civil War, but the film really could have done with trimming this exposition down, you have to wait for at least half an hour before you take the dive into the story.
In the end, I don’t really have a strong opinion on Black Widow. I used to use Thor as the example of a film being bang average, but I think I can add Black Widow as an extension. It’s not too displeasing, neither is it too praiseworthy, what the film does offer is safety. Safety in the fact that once you leave, your time and money hasn’t been wasted too much. I won’t lie, I do feel slightly underwhelmed that the celebration of the character wasn’t exactly how I expected, but at the same time, I have no huge complaints.
Final Result: 5/10 – Average
Have you seen Black Widow? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Space Jam: A New Legacy