Even with the COVID pandemic pushing back the release date of Black Widow (and a host of other films), the newest Marvel film indeed seems to be arriving rather late.
Perhaps those who have never seen a film from the MCU won’t feel that way, but for the rest of us, it is inevitable (pardon my Thanos plug there) to feel this film should have come out before the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), where Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johanson) dies. That fact still hovers over the second female lead film of the MCU (after 2019’s Captain Marvel), leading us to feel like those behind the scenes may have screwed up.
Still, the over all experience is passable. We see the upbringing of Natasha and her little sister Yelena in Ohio in the mid 1990s. They go on the run with their parents Melina (Rachel Weisz) and Alexei (David Harbour). They are then taken to an academy of sorts where both girls will be trained to be the assassins that they will become. The training is under the watchful eye of the villainous Dreykov (Ray Winstone), but the young Natasha manages to escape.
We then fast forward to 2016, where Romanoff is on the run after the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016). Living off the grid, she is discovered by a hitman named Taskmaster, after finding out that Romanoff is in possession of a package sent to her by her sister Yelena (Florence Pugh). They go on the search for their parents in need of help to find Dreykov.
The film tends to play less like a MCU film and more like a James Bond flick (we do see Natasha watching the bond film Moonraker at one point). There are a good amount of chase scenes, an evil henchman, and the location of the villain is also ripping off of 007 bad guys (not to mention he is Russian). The only person in the film with actual super powers is Alexei, who has gone under the name “Red Guardian”, Russia’s version of Captain America.
As is the case of all spy thrillers, the action scenes need to be tightly choreographed, and Black Widow does not disappoint, especially the one in the opening. Much of this is due to director Cate Shorthand. I will admit to being awed up until the last act, where the laws of gravity seemed to be making no sense to me. Then again, it is a MCU film.
One of the big pluses of the film is Florence Pugh. Standing just a little over five feet tall, she not only holds her own against ScarJo but also outshines her. It does help that she has more of the better lines in the film (“You are such a poser!”), and it is clear that this is only the beginning of her character arc in the MCU.
Parents, if your kids have seen any of the other 23 films from the MCU, they will be fine here. There is action and thematic elements, plus some swearing. No nudity or sexual content.
With more MCU films coming to theaters this year, I realize I need to eventually get to my rankings of all the films. This will require many rewatches. While I know Black Widow is not near the bottom with films like Thor: The Dark World (2013), it is still far from Marvel’s best.