Since her debut in Iron Man 2, Scarlett Johansson has made Black Widow her own. Appearing in multiple films throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe until her untimely demise during Avengers: Endgame, fans have wanted to see more from Natasha Romanoff for years now. So when it was revealed that Johansson would lead a solo Black Widow film that was set after the events of Captain America: Civil War and before the events of Avengers: Infinity War, excitement commenced. It would later be announced that Midsommar breakout Florence Pugh and Stranger Things star David Harbour would join the film as Yelena Belova and Red Guardian and that the main antagonist of the film would be Taskmaster. All things were pointing to Disney and Marvel Studios having another hit on their hands.
Marvel Studios was originally going release Black Widow as the first project from Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe until the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic struck and forced the studio to reshuffle its slate. Instead, WandaVision became the phase 4 opener with The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and Loki premiering before Black Widow. Now that restrictions are easing up, Black Widow is officially hitting theaters, making it the first Marvel Studios film to be released since Spider-Man: Far From Home. I recently got the chance to see Black Widow and while I did find it entertaining, it felt like an unnecessary watch.
Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is the most redundant Marvel Studios film I’ve seen so far. Don’t get me wrong, Black Widow is not a bad film at all, but if it was released in-between Civil War and Infinity War, I believe I’d be signing a different tune. The film was directed by Cate Shortland with a story from WandaVision head writer Jac Schaeffer and what the director does with the action pieces is downright incredible. Black Widow has some of the best stunts I’ve ever seen in a superhero film and Shortland handles things with ease. If you ignore the fact that you already know Natasha’s fate and the fact that the most important thing in the film is the post-credits scene, you might actually have a good time.
Black Widow plays like a Bourne Identity-esque thriller. Set after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Natasha Romanoff is on the run from the United States government for violating the Sokovian Accords and stumbles into an adventure that links back to her time in the Black Widow program. The film is a brilliant display of action, storytelling and definitely feels like it should have came a bit sooner. Johansson and Pugh are delightful, deadly and light up the screen when they’re together. Black Widow sets up a lot of interesting plot points for the future Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the most intriguing one comes after the credits. While the plot of Black Widow kinda gets bogged down by the knowledge of Natasha’s death, the performances are what I loved about the film.
Scarlett Johansson returns to the role of Natasha Romanoff and this time it’s for a solo film. Johansson is natural in the role and does a great job throughout, but it almost feels like we’ve seen everything that needed to be seen with her character and that makes the supporting players even more interesting. The film introduces us to Pugh’s Yelena Belova and she’s arguably one of my favorite additions to the MCU. Pugh delivers some of the most emotional moments you’ve ever seen from Marvel Studios and I don’t think another actress could have played the character better. David Harbour enters the MCU as a Russian knock-off of Captain America called Red Guardian, something that leads to some pretty good laughs. Harbour looks like he’s having the time of his life in the role and I would love to see him show up somewhere down the line.
Black Widow also introduces us to Ray Winstone’s Dreykov, the mastermind behind the infamous Red Room. Winstone plays the villain who runs the Black Widow program, but he’s not even the slightest bit intimidating. Dreykov controls the Widows as well as the mysteryious Taskmaster, who is very different than his comic book counterpart. Taskmaster is pretty underwhelming in the film and so is the reveal of who’s under the mask. The additional supporting cast including Rachel Weisz and O.T. Fagbenle round out the film with great performances, but it still couldn’t stop my disappointment. Black Widow had a ton of promise but should have been released years ago.
Overall Thoughts: Black Widow is a brilliant display of what Marvel Studios could with the character. While I feel that the film itself is a completely unnecessary entry into the MCU, I’m sure there are others that will love it. Cate Shortland and Jac Schaeffer deliver the goods with Black Widow. The film is a beautiful send off for Scarlett Johansson and Natasha Romanoff and I’m excited to see what happens next. Black Widow is definitely a film the entire family can enjoy so check it out when it hits theaters and Disney+.
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