Comics Movie Reviews
Black Widow Movie Review
By Hervé St-Louis
July 10, 2021 - 00:26
Studios: Marvel Studios
Writer(s): Eric Pearson, Jac Schaeffer, Ned Benson
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, Ray Winstone
Directed by: Cate Shortland
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Release Date: July 8, 2021
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Distributors: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Natasha Romanoff, known as the Black Widow is an fugitive from the US government and SHIELD after siding with Captain America during the Avengers’ civil war. However, her younger sister, also a Black Widow tracks her down and involves her in her own mission against the General Dreykov’s Red Room, the secret training facility that trains women across the world to turn them into Russian assassins. Can the two Black Widow sisters defeat Dreykov and his Red Room?
The word on the street is that reviewers are supposed to dislike this film, the only one Disney will let us dislike and that it will be a failure that fails to continue the spirit of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This film is supposed to herald the decline of the MCU and be a mess. Well, it turns out that I was favourably entertained with this movie and would recommend it. I'm not paid in anyway by Disney nor are they in contact with me.
Much more than even Captain America: the Winter Soldier, this was a spy movie that really reminded me of The Bourne Identity series at times. It had double crossed characters, crazy car chases in urban cities, remoter farm getaways, guns, and dark secrets from the past coming back to haunt the protagonist and her allies. What else can one ask for?
The Black Widow movie is solidly anchored in the MCU and draws much from that shared universe without having to show any of the super powered allies of the Black Widow. The challenge of the Black Widow was to escape the ranks of supporting character which she has played in the second Iron Man, Captain America the Winter Soldier, Captain America Civil War, and countless Avengers’ film as part of the ensemble. Here Natasha, played by Scarlett Johansson was the star of her own epic. It was about time too.
The main flaw of this movie is not having been released earlier, between Captain America Civil War and the Avengers Infinity War. It was confusing as hell to try to figure out exactly when this movie occurred and the framing device with the Romanoff as the main character does not work well as there was no passing of the torch to her sister metaphorically. There was something missing about the context of the story and why we should care that Romanoff was a fugitive.
Now for her sister, Yelena Belova. She is annoying and sound like one of those annoying mall teenagers with attitude. She does not even have the physical shape to make me think that she could be a good spy, like Romanoff. Actress Florence Pugh disappoints here, and I cannot see her picking up the role of the Black Widow in future film. I would say, Scarlett Johansson was just fine in the role. Although she is dead in the MCU, following Avengers’ Endgame, there does not need to be any other Black Widow.
Plotwise, the film introduced the idea of multiple Black Widows, as if there were Green Lanterns. It is thus, another league of powerful women, much like Wonder Woman’s Amazons, or Black Panther’s Dora Milaje. The main change from the comics here was the Taskmaster. The following highlighted section will be a spoiler so please skip the next paragraph if you do not want to know about the Taskmaster.
The Taskmaster is no longer the criminal genius that plagues the Avengers. It is the daughter of Dreykov who has been given and upgraded treatment that was given to the other Black Widows. While the change is interesting, it limits the appeal of the character who cannot be used beyond this film as a villain.
The taskmaster did not get enough screen time as a villain. The potential of a character that can match Captain America, Black Widow, Black Panther, the Winter Soldier, and Hawkeye is wasted. What is also wasted are Alexei, the Red Guardian and Melina. The first was treated as a joke and not an equivalent fighter at the level of Captain America. The second was not given enough motivation for her defection in the second act.
I am glad that Black Widow finally got her own movie. She was the weak link of the Avengers without this film. While the movie is very affirmative for the advancement of women and adds a human slavery and trafficking to the story, it is also a spy adventure that follows all the tropes, except the casino scene. I had fun and was glad to have seen this film at a movie theatre. It did not think that I would be back in one so soon, but I’m glad that it worked out.
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