Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour
Jac Schaeffer, Ned Benson, Eric Pearson
‘Black Widow’ has been with us for as about as long as Tony Stark has, yet it’s now in 2021 that we are finally getting her standalone film. It has been delayed due to the pandemic, hotly anticipated for years by fans, and now, we get to know if the wait ended up being worth it. What Makes ‘Black Widow’ an entertaining watch is its family-rooted story, hard-hitting action, and a nostalgic look back at a phase 1 film we never got to see.
The tone of ‘Black Widow’ stands apart from the rest of the MCU. This is one of the darkest stories told in the universe and director Cate Shortland does a great job of crafting a film that feels unique to itself but also fits within the Superhero world we all know. The camerawork is very handheld and ‘Bourne-esque’ in its action. A lot of times when a critic sites handheld camerawork for fighting scenes, they assume it’s meant to cut out for the stunt double to replace the actor more believably. But this is the MCU, big daddy Marvel booku bucks! They still give you some incredible wide panning action and fighting that is easy on the eyes and hard on the bone crunches. Seriously, the fighting in this is brutal.
I love Scarlett Johansson and am really happy we’ve finally been given her own film. Let’s all be honest, Iron Man 2 overly sexualized her, and interestingly her character has evolved with the times from when she first appeared. In watching ‘Black Widow’ I could not help but wish that this film had fit within the timeline of the MCU. It will be clear where this is set once you see the film, but for me knowing where her character ends did take some of the stakes away for me.
That’s not to say I don’t love Black Widow or the new characters introduced in the film. Florence Pugh plays Yelena Belova, a longtime friend of Natasha who is a scene-stealer in a lot of moments. David Harbour is fantastic as Alexei Shostakov and has most of the comedy beats (which he nails). Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff is my only weak spot within this spy family.
The villain in this film, a Superhero move-mimicking soldier named ‘Taskmaster’ can copy every move shown to them, making them almost impossible to attack and Taskmaster able to perceive every move. I think the concept is cool but this character also feels a little wasted. Would like to see more of them in the future of the MCU and with a more carved out path than just “Winter Soldier 2.0”.
That family element is the central point of Natasha’s character. Her motivation throughout the MCU is fighting for the people who care about her enough to consider her family. The actions she’s made in her MCU history consistently show that motivation but in ‘Black Widow’, they are finally able to give her the spotlight she deserves, if not a decade late.
Overall, I had a decent time with ‘Black Widow’. I wouldn’t say this is a game-changing addition but it is a much-needed conclusion to a character we’ve known since the beginning. My ratings usually only change about a half star either way so perhaps after a second watch that will adjust, but for now, let me know what you thought down below!