I AM READY TO RUN FROM MY PAST
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has indeed been incredible, lucrative and fun to drive since its inception in 2008 with the release of Ironman. This shared superhero movie universe has added many comic book heroes (both famous and unknown) to the Marvel Comics back catalog; produces increased cinematic fanfare of epic proportions and a box office hit whenever each entry is published. With each episode, the MCU has grown in size (expanding its own universe of heroes, gods, and monsters), offering moviegoers around the world a blockbuster-esque superhero fantasy escape. Of course, the franchise itself has proven to be a powerhouse, cultivating huge box office hits with each entry, demonstrating the mass appeal of costumed comic book heroes and the need to carry on the various MCU phase sagas in the sequel to the already established ones, as well as new ones to fill in the List. This is especially noticeable after the 2019 release Avengers: Endgame, which closed the chapter of the Infinity saga storyline, satisfactorily saying goodbye to some of the main characters in the franchise, and creating a new stage for the MCU heroes to explore and save the world within. Now, after a nearly two year hiatus since its 2019 release Spider-Man: Far from home, Marvel Studios and director Cate Shortland present the solo film for Natasha Romanoff (one of the original six Avenger characters in the MCU) with the release of Black Widow. Is this long-awaited, solo-focused superhero movie having its “day in the cinema” or is it a boring blockbuster venture that never really gets going?
Set according to the events that took place in. took place Captain America: Civil War, The Avengers will be split and the team will be disbanded. Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is a wanted government refugee. Secretary Ross (William Hurt) tries to bring the Avenger to justice but is unable to track her down while he hunts down the rest of the superhero gang. Staying off the government radar and in danger when receiving a mysterious package containing a special antidote, Natasha suddenly meets with her little sister, Yelena (Florence Pugh), a Black Widow agent who recently was mind-controlled free became a special red gasserum. The two have been separated for years and struggle to deal with their past as a tool for the infamous Red Room leader Dreykov (Ray Winstone), who used the two girls as a cover for Russian agents Melina (Rachel Weisz) and Alexei (David Harbor) brought together; to create a fictional family that felt real to the kids. In search of revenge, Natasha and Yelena hunt Dreykov and come in contact with his deadly assassin enforcer Taskmaster while they seek a reunion with their parents. But the deeper Natasha penetrates, the more her past comes to light and has to face it or be destroyed by it.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
It goes without saying (as many of you already know) that I’m a huge (and really huge) fan of the MCU movies. I think this particular movie franchise has actually grown (on the right track) into a powerhouse that it is today, spanning more than a decade (currently) to showcase its shared universe of Marvel superheroes. As you can imagine, I’m more of a fan of Marvel comic book characters than the DC Comics, so the actual cinematic portrayal that each of the twenty films released (so far) since 2008 definitely entranced and me “Pulled out”. inner fanboy. Of course, the MCU’s success has expanded to include the already established characters (e.g. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk) and new characters have been added to the mix (e.g. Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and the Guardians). the galaxy); presents the different styles and narratives that accompany these super-stories of good and bad. Yes, I agree that these films have found a “winning formula” and as such have been repeated (appropriately) in their various entries in their “Phase Sagas”, but it definitely worked and there were a few surprises along the way that holds these films are “interesting” and “entertaining” at the same time. Also, I have to admit that I loved loved in 2019 Avengers: Endgamethat brought the entire Infinity storyline to a thrilling conclusion; setting the stage for the MCU’s next phase saga in a very fascinating way. All in all, I think the MCU (as a whole) has definitely made its mark on the film industry. The question remains…. How long can this shared cinematic universe of Marvel superheroes be relevant before it becomes stale and uninteresting to general public opinion? I think time will tell on this endeavor in the years to come.
That brings me back to talking about Black widow, Marvel’s 2021 action superhero film and the start of the MCU’s Phase IV saga. I have to say everyone was talking about this film, especially since there has been a lot of talk about a Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow solo film since the character’s debut in the 2010s Ironman 2. Of course, the character who appeared in several of the solo MCU films (i.e. Ironman 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Captain America: Civil War) as well as superhero team-up films (Marvel’s The Avengers, Avangers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame). That being said, the Black Widow character never got her chance to shine in her own solo-focused movie. So, with all the talk, rumors and tidbits, I was pleasantly happy to see the character get their own movie when it was announced that Marvel was going to make a movie Black widow Movie. From there, Marvel has touted the project quite often, with a lot of hype about the feature and a lot of fanfare in the process. Also, the film’s trailer looked great and showed some great things of what we (the viewers) would experience with the film. Of course, I (like many fans out there) was definitely looking forward to seeing Black Widow, which was originally due to be released in May 2020. However, the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic caused the film to be postponed several times as Black Widow finally has a July 2021 release. So I know that many will likely see this film in theaters, I decided to buy premium access for Black widow on Disney +, preparing to see the latest Marvel superhero movie on opening night. And what did I think of that? Well, I actually liked it. Black widow is a solid Marvel film that carries the cinematic blockbuster pedigree of the franchise and finally gives Natasha Romanoff her solo debut film that many have longed for for years. It’s not the best MCU movie in the franchise, but it’s still a worthy entry into the long-running superhero cinema universe.
Black widow directed by Cate Shortland, who has directed several films such as several Somersault, Lore, and Berlin Syndrome, as well as TV episodes for Bad cop, good cop and The secret life of us. Given her background in all of her previous ventures, Shortland does Black widow her most ambitious project; approaches the feature with a slightly different flair than the MCU films and brings her own way of thinking into the process. To that end, I think Shortland did a great job and managed to make this latest entry in the MCU an interesting take. Of course, the bulk of Black Widow focuses on exposing Natasha’s past, which I think Shortland does a good job of directing this endeavor; Design the feature with a fresh look at the common cinematic universe of the superheroes. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film that Shortland brings with it is the sonic considerations and nuances of a James Bond espionage aspect that is definitive Black widows “Bread and Butter” for most of the film. The film itself is a street-level narration by the MCU; feel a little more grounded (if still pretty awesome) than some of the other features of the franchise. Hence, the process is a bit more realistic and Shortland accepts the revelations of the espionage genre with delight. From that point of view, I think the movie worked well as I really loved the first act of Black widow the best. There’s a sense of somber and dark realism (most noticeable in the opening sequence / title crawl) and this is where Shortland shines best; the stage for something interesting and entertaining. That’s not to say that the rest of the movie isn’t great as Shortland pulls through most of the frame, with a few bumps along the way (more on that below), but I think it’s admirable what she’s done about accomplish, especially with a non-background in making mainstream blockbusters.
The big selling point of the film is, of course, the focus on the character of Natasha Romanoff and the exposure of her past as she now confronts her in the present. This also includes ideas about family; something Marvel is known for to showcase in its features, and Shortland handles this pretty well, showcasing Natasha’s first family (pre-Avengers) and showing the various dynamics of how they all interact with Romanoff. From a storytelling standpoint, Black widow is working. It’s not the best revolutionary narrative threads to follow, but it definitely works as some of the best moments are seeing the cast interact with each other (more on that below). So I think the story is pretty good and, while it could have been more polished / refined, is solid in most parts. Of course with Black widow As an MCU movie, Shortland adds the franchise signature of action, humor, and heart and everything is well presented in this package. Demonstration of different characters / scenarios that fit perfectly into these categories. Overall, these three beats are used throughout the film and, while not absolutely the best, clearly represent the MCU formula, and Shortland takes that into account. Plus, there are plenty of recalls and references to the established MCU world in Black Widow to help the non-MCU fan figure out where this movie takes place in the timeline of the universe. Overall, I think Shortland did a good job with us Black widow; deal effectively with Marvel-style action, humor and heart and give the project its own direction. As I said above, it’s not the best MCU movie, but it’s still so solid and admirable that it works.
The overall presentation of Black widow is pretty solid and definitely has that “quality” blockbuster feel that Marvel Studio is known for. As with previous MCU endeavors, there is a lot going on and the visual appeal of the film (both physical and computer generated) is in line with today’s cinematic interpretations of blockbusters and Black widow fits exactly into the category. From start to finish, the film has that special “T” factor that makes the film work well (visually) with its various European locations / locations as well as detailed fictional interior buildings and corridors and clothing. So from that point of view, I think that Black widows The “behind the scenes” team, including Charles Wood (production design), John Bush and Jess Royal (set decorations), Lisa Lovaas and Jany Temime (costume design), and Leigh Folsom Boyd and Matthew Schmidt (editing) do a great job at the Bringing the world of film to life. This is where the feature film’s cameraman, Gabriel Beristain, helps out, creating some creative visual looks throughout the film that cast the effects of camera angles, movement, and lens flair. This (of course) adds to the dramatic “look and feel” of the process, especially in the action department. The film also looks good. Not a revelation from this world, but one that feels appropriate for a Marvel movie and meets industry standards for a blockbuster movie. I will say, however, that there were a fight sequence or two that were obviously computer generated (computers still can’t fully reproduce body movements) but these were just minor variations. Finally, the score, composed by Lorne Balfe, is solid; creates very atmospheric melodies that feel right both in tone and in action for the various sequences of the feature. Like a lot of those heavy choral chants that feel almost Russian, which is appropriate given the subject of the film.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of issues I’ve had with it Black widow which make the project seem a bit disappointing, especially given the high standards set by some of the earlier MCU feature films. For starters, the movie itself is a bit “meh”. That’s not to say it’s awkward and / or boring to watch, but the film (and its story) doesn’t really bring anything new to the table of what has already come and gone in this cinematic universe. As a whole, Black widow doesn’t have the full “wow” factor that leads us (the viewer) to something new. The film does not take us into the vastness of space with new characters like Guardian of the Galaxy, it doesn’t have the gritty “in your face” action like that Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it doesn’t explore the mystical realm like real Doctor Strange, and it brings no hidden invisible kingdom like Black Panther. As mentioned earlier, Black Widow is a street-level Marvel narrative but doesn’t take as many steps to be something new or different as many would expect an MCU to do. The first act is great and definitely works, but the ending takes an easy path and becomes a stereotypical Marvel movie; according to a formula of big action, daring escapes and climatic moments. That didn’t bother me much as I kind of expect it, but I just felt that the film could have been so much better if the studio had “changed the formula” in its story / presentation. I also have to say that the pace of the film is a little different in some places. This is mostly during the middle part of the movie (second act) and I find this part of the narrative to be a bit sluggish. Sure, there’s a lot of Marvel-style humor and heart (as well as plot points), but I felt like this part could have been handled better.
Next I would say that another point of criticism I have about the film is its political commentary. Let me rephrase that…. One point of criticism I have about the way the political commentary message is in Black widow. Why? Well Marvel has certainly been a champion of recent events / changes in cultural and gender representation and I do, I applaud them especially as these films are seen by the masses. Me, Black Panther displayed this aspect beautifully with the characters Shuri (intelligence), Okoye (strength), Nakia (compassionate) and were treated with respect and the portrayal shows that. In other Marvel films, however, their portrayal was a bit “on the nose” and / or rather clumsy in presentation (i.e. Avengers: Endgame or Carol Danvers Revelation Scene in scene Captain Marvel, etc.). Unfortunately, Black Widow falls into that category with all of its gendered overtones and clumsy political commentary that almost makes one eye roll in one scene. I am all for equality and representation, but there is a right and a wrong way and Black widow falls in the latter. It doesn’t derail the movie, but it does feel a bit forced and “on the nose” when mentioned. I think Marvel just needs a better way to incorporate equality advocacy into their future episode, which doesn’t seem cramped.
Another little problem I had with this movie is the simple fact that the story of the feature takes place in the timeline placement in the MCU. What I mean? Think of Black Widow as a kind of prequel entry and you will understand what I mean. The narration of the film takes place in between Civil war and Infinity war, the film tries to up the ante on Natasha and poses a lot of great dangers to her to face, but it’s all a bit moot. If you see Avengers: Endgame, then you know the fate of Natasha Romanoff. So, all the dangers and dangerous fights she faces Black widow seems a bit “meh” because you know she will show up in Infinity war and Endgame. I know that sounds a bit redundant, but hey…. this is only my opinion.
What definitely helps overcome these criticisms is the cast of the film, who definitely bring their “A” game to the table and feel like a welcome addition to the many hero characters (main and minor characters) within the MCU. At the head of the film is of course the actress Scarlett Johansson in the central lead role of Natasha Romanoff. As mentioned earlier, Johansson is best known for her roles in The island, Lucy, and Marriage storyHe’s been one of many players in the MCU ever since Ironman 2 and has played a very solid / nuanced role in this cinematic universe as Natasha Romanoff in the various feature films in it. So, (much like what I said above), Natasha is welcome to get her own film, and Johansson, who has wanted one for a while, is enjoying this “T” opportunity. It’s easy to see in Black Widow that Johansson has a lot of fun following Natasha’s journey from start to finish. Johansson has certainly made the character his own in the previous films, but in Black Widow he gets the chance to give the character an “intermediate level” as a protagonist rather than in a supporting role. As such, Johansson is pretty solid in the role and handles the lead role great. The character gets a bit lost / aside in a few moments, but that’s an issue that comes from Shortland’s direction rather than Johansson’s performance. All in all, I really liked the fact that Johansson finally got her own moment into the cinematic spotlight with her portrayal of Natasha Romanoff in a prequel solo film and a good farewell to the character.
Behind Johansson, actress Florence Pugh plays the new character of Yelena Belova, Natasha’s sister and also Black Widow assassin. Pugh, best known for her roles in Fight with my family, The little drummer girl, and Little woman, is definitely a welcome addition to this superhero cinematic universe and is perhaps the best part of the movie in general. How? Well, she completely nails the characters; To offer Yelena as a very battle-tested and deadly assassin, similar to Romanoff. However, the character is also a bit vulnerable a few times, I think Pugh portrays it quite well. Additionally, Pugh has great comedic timing and delivers some of the best one-liner zingers in the film (i.e., such a poser) and handles the action scenes in a great way that makes them stand out (in a memorable way) a lot more than Johansson, which is totally different and is a bit unexpected. Personally, I really liked Pughs Yelena and is probably my favorite character in all of them Black widow. Can’t wait to see what the character in the future of the MCU can expect.
In larger supporting roles, the acting talents of both actor David Harbor and actress Rachel Weisz feel in the respective roles of Natasha / Yelena’s surrogate parents of Alexei Shostakov and Melinda Vostokoff and are considered the “veteran” talents normally found in many of the MCU movies. Harbor, known for his roles in Strange things, Hell boy, and The newsroomHe’s most delegated in the movie as the “weird relief” and Harbor is definitely good, which is probably why he’s used heavily in that aspect. As Alexei, Harbor is fun and entertaining whenever he’s on screen, especially when compared to the more gravitational / stoic demeanor of Weisz ‘Melinda. Plus it’s kind of funny since he’s the somewhat “Russian” version of Captain America as the Red Guardian and I love the way he tries to take on the role. So is Weisz, known for her roles in The favourite, The constant gardener, and The fountainShe is spot on in the role of Melinda and she perfects the role in a great and entertaining way. The only minor downside I have to say about Weisz ‘Melinda is that she’s a little underused in the movie. Of the four main cast members (she, Johansson, Pugh, and Harbor), she gets the least amount of screen time, which is strange given that Weisz has the strongest and most dynamic acting area in the group and could definitely have added more substance to the character in general. Still, I really liked Weisz as Melinda because she was great and another great “seasoned” veteran actress who performed in the MCU. Also (spoken together) Harbor and Weisz have a good relationship with each other and their co-stars and that shows clearly.
Perhaps the weakest characters in the film would have to be the antagonistic villains that Natasha faces…. both Red Room / Widow mastermind General Dreykov and his deadly assassin enforcer, code-named Taskmaster. Marvel has certainly brought us many notable villains (i.e. Loki, the Winter Soldier, Kilmonger, the Vulture, Ultron, Thanos, etc.), but for the most part they struggled with villain development / presentation; often poorly developed and more “bad guy” constructs than elaborate antagonists. Unfortunately, Black widow falls into the latter category rather than the former with its villains. Actor Ray Winstone (The departed and Beowulf) certainly suits someone who plays Dreykov as they have that natural growling / growling voice that seems to resonate pretty well. However, Dreykov is a rather boring and straightforward villain who isn’t really unique or interesting. The character fits the narrative for Black widows Story, but Dreykov is rather straight forward and one-dimensional and lacks a dynamic and / or catchy villain. The same can be partially. said for the character of taskmaster. I’m not going to reveal who is the acting talent behind the assassin’s mask, as that would ruin the “big reveal” in Act III, so I won’t mention who is playing the character. In the movie, the Taskmaster character is pretty reminiscent of the Winter Soldier as a ruthless and deadly assassin, and I really got the mood when the character appeared on the screen. For the most part, I liked it. What becomes the character, however, is a little “meh” in the third act and feels a little empty-handed; Losing this particular sharpness and leaving an unsatisfactory taste in the audience’s mouth at the end of the film. Of course, some hardcore / aspirations Marvel comic book fans out there are likely to cry disappointment (i.e. ruin the character from their source material), I’m not that much in the category. That being said, I wish they’d treat the Taskmaster better in act three as there was so much potential to make the character memorable rather than a boring / generic reveal about identity / dispatch.
The rest of the cast, including actor William Hurt (A history of violence and Lost in space) as US Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross and actor O-T Fagbenle (The story of the maid and Maxx) as Mason, make up the little supporting actors in the film. While most of the film relies heavily on the main cast, these two characters are really “minor characters” in the story. offer sparse sequences in their involvement Black widow. That being said, both Hurt and Fagbenle are fine in their respective roles and really can’t fault their acting skills.
After all, it won’t be a Marvel movie with something extra at the end of the movie, there Black widow contains an Easter egg scene after the credits. I’m not going to spoil what’s presented, but it’s pretty interesting and I look forward to seeing where Marvel Studios goes with this narrative plot point.
On the run from those who want to arrest her, Natasha Romanoff returns to face her past and reunite with her first family and plans to end Dreykov’s infamous “Red Room” Widow program in the film Black widow. Director Cate Shortland’s latest film takes the first female Avenger character and gives the character of Romanoff her own solo film; Add more depth to the character by filling in some of their backstories while offering a new adventure for the famous “Black Widow” to play. While the film struggles with its pace, villain, clumsy commentary, and a few disappointing bits in a few areas, the film still manages to be quite funny and entertaining, especially thanks to the spy aspect of the street. Level narrative, majority of the cast (most notably Pugh) and in his overall presentation. Personally, I liked this film. Yes, there were a few issues with the film, and I wasn’t that overwhelmed with the narrative and its presentation, but it was still entertaining yet a solid start into the MCU franchise. Plus, one of the two female-focus MCU films released so far is in my opinion Black widow is better than Captain Marvel. So my recommendation for the film would be a positive “recommended” recommendation, as I am sure that Marvel fans will enjoy the film as much as the casual moviegoers curious about the latest entry on the MCU. As mentioned earlier, the ending of the film opens up several possible sequel / spin-off ideas with some of the film’s characters. So I’m excited to see what Marvel Studios is doing with these ideas on both the big screen and the small screen that seems to be thriving on the Disney Plus streaming platform. In the end, Black Widow manages to bring a spy-like Marvel adventure into play and the character of Natasha Romanoff (and Scarlett Johansson) a decent one at the same time, even if it’s not exactly the “stunning” MCU feature film that some expected and a suitable solo film as well as a farewell that she deserves.
3.9 out of 5 (recommended)
Published on: July 9, 2021
Reviewed on: July 20, 2021
Black widow is 133 minutes long and is rated PG-13 for intense violence / action sequences, some language and thematic material