Movie Review: Black Widow (2021)

The first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Black Widow is a 2021 superhero action thriller based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, and was directed by Cate Shortland. On the run following the events of Captain American: Civil War, Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is soon reunited with another Red Room assassin from her childhood, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh). Enlisting the help of Alexei Shostakov, formerly the Red Guardian (David Harbour) and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), a former spy for the Red Room, the team seeks to overthrow the head of the Red Room, General Dreykov (Ray Winstone) who uses his personal assassin, known as Taskmaster, to hunt down any who oppose him. O-T Fagbenie also stars as Rick Mason, an ally of Natasha’s, and William Hurt reprises his role as United States Secretary of State, Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross.

+ both Johansson and Pugh were a lot of fun, but it is David Harbour who steals the show because he is the most ‘ok boomer’ character there has been so far. I’m a fan of Pugh since the wrestling related Fighting with my Family, and especially in Midsommar, and if this is what gives her a big break, then I’m all for it. Rachel Weisz feels under used, however, and I’d be lying if I said her Russian accent wasn’t a bit funky sometimes – that goes for all of them, actually
+ par for the course of a MCU movie, there is lots of good action here. Owing to the Widow’s fighting style, it’s far more flamboyant than the more grounded action movies of recent years, and even other MCU movies, but I still get a kick out of people being thrown into walls and furniture breaking. The Taskmaster makes for a very interesting antagonist, as they mimic fighting styles and particular moments from all other MCU movies thus far; keep an eye out and we can talk about them because I loved it
+ the personal plot for Natasha feels earned after all this time we’ve come to know her, though it was at times very similar to Captain America: The Winder Soldier both in style and substance. There are the standard issues with prequels/interquels in general, in that none of the events of this movie seem to ever get mentioned afterwards but maybe that is because Natasha is a private person

– simply put, it’s just too late for a Black Widow solo film. There was no tension in regards to Natasha herself, as she obviously had to survive to be in Infinity War later. Fans have been clamouring for a Widow/Hawkeye team up film since the first Avengers movie, and this treads much of the same ground that they hinted at in their shared backstory, unfortunately with Hawkeye nowhere to be seen
– trailers always spoil. In a similar criticism to one I had for The Woman in the Window, much of the advertising of this film was built around Natasha and her family – Yelena, Melina, and Alexei – but that doesn’t really happen until the final half or third of the movie. Of course, no trailers directly show what happens in the lead up to and aftermath of this, but it’s still frustrating

Should you see this film: I genuinely enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. Even with my personal issues of the timing and placement of this movie in the MCU, the action was good, Johansson and Pugh worked well together, and it set up a few very intriguing things to come. This was one of the better “origins” of the MCU.

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