Review: Black Widow

Series: Marvel Cinematic Universe: #24

Series: MCU Phase 4: #1

The first time I’ve been to theaters since… Avengers: Endgame. Man it’s been a weird few years. Which actually wraps up Black Widow pretty well.

On one hand, it’s a fairly solid action/spy movie. There are a number of spectacular action scenes, a deep dive into Black Widow–it’s akin to an origin story, but filling in a character we already knew a decent amount of back rather than introducing someone new, which was nice–and the introduction of a few new characters I expect we’ll see more of. After the absolutely draining intensity of Infinity War/Endgame plus just how dark the followup shows have been, it was nice to have something relatively ’lighter’ and smaller in scope.

Conversely… that’s one reason this movie was so strange. If it had come out when it takes place–between Civil War and Infinity War–it would have been a far better film. As it was, we’ve seen the world change and Black Widow is dead, probably for good . In something as big as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you can’t just watch the movies in isolation anymore, they’re all part of this larger universe. You can rely on that to boost worldbuilding, but you also have to be aware of that when making a movie. It’s the same reason that the other Avengers not showing up in many of the other early independent films was so weird.

Plotwise, it’s fine. Big bad with a direct relationship to the main character. A few small conflicts eventually bringing everyone together into a big action set piece (a flying lab–how did SHIELD or Stark or anyone really not notice that)? There were a good number of action scenes and some nice twists and spy stuff. Conversely, there were a number of … say whaaaat plot points. Right up to the end… why did Black Widow stay? And how did she get free almost immediately? It really felt like despite all of the delays, the movie could have used a bit more editing.

Characterwise, I really loved the dynamic between Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova. They really felt to me just like sisters that spent years together then even longer apart. It’s awkward and touching and I’d love to see more of it.

Yelena Belova: You know, this is the first piece of clothing I’ve ever bought for myself.

Natasha Romanoff: That?

Yelena Belova: Yeah. You don’t like it?

Natasha Romanoff: Is that like a… Is it army surplus, or…

Yelena Belova: Okay, it has a lot of pockets. But I use them all the time, and I made some of my own modifications.

Natasha Romanoff: Oh, yeah? Whatever.

Yelena Belova: Shut up. The point is, I’ve never… I’ve never had control over my own life before, and now I do. I want to do things.

Natasha Romanoff: I like your vest.

Yelena Belova: I knew it. I knew you did. It’s so cool, right?

Natasha Romanoff: It’s good. Yes. I like it.

Yelena Belova: And you can put so much stuff in there. You wouldn’t even know.

Given the meta knowledge that Johansson is probably moving on from her role, I fully expect that we’ll see more of Pugh–perhaps as the new ‘Black Widow’–and I look forward to it.

Other than that, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz as deep cover Russian spies / parents of two young girls in Ohio were absolutely wonderful. Especially Harbour obviously having aged out of his glory days, but not quite willing to accept that even now. I really want to know more about his backstory–he has something akin to Captain America’s powers, how did that happen? I think the weakest casting was probably Ray Winstone as the big bad. He was … weird. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but he didn’t seem particularly relatable or hatable as a villain. So it goes.

Overall, towards the bottom for the MCU. It’s not bad, but being part of the MCU cost it somewhat. So it goes.