‘Black Widow‘ is the first film for Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and set after the third Captain America film. It is directed by Cate Shortland and produced by the one and only Kevin Feige.
On the run from Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt), the Avenger known as Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) receives a package from Budapest leading her to become the target of Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko). While investigating the package, she realizes it was sent by her sister Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh). After finding her and evading other Black Widows, Yelena tells her that the thought-dead General Dreykov (Ray Winstone) has been operating the Red Room in secret. The two women track down their adopted father Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour) and break him out of jail with the hopes of finding Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), their adoptive mother who is still working for the Red Room.
When the mainstream media gives a good review of a Marvel movie, it usually means it is bad. When the center-right media gives a Marvel film a bad review, it usually means it is good. Obviously, there are exceptions to these rules and both sets of critics played their roles. The trick for a guy like me who has been a fan since the beginning is determining where the reality lies. With Black Widow, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
A problem with this movie is that it lacks that Marvel magic that has made characters like Captain America come to life. I could not put my finger on it and then it occurred to me, it is too late. The film should have been released in Phase One, Phase Two at the latest. A “midquel” to usher in Phase Four was not an ideal placement. It feels out of place and wanting.
The next major issue is how they ruined Taskmaster. Tony Masters is a terrifying assassin who can mimic his opponents and has squared off with characters ranging from Iron Man to Spider-Man. In this film, Taskmaster is now a misunderstood woman who has been programmed by her father to do terrible things. It was a weak way to tokenize such a great villain. I have second-hand embarrassment for the Marvel Studios team who thought it was a good idea.
That being said, the movie is actually pretty good. It is not Marvel’s The Avengers and it is not Thor: Dark World. It rests in the middle as a fun film that truly shows off all of the flashiness of an MCU feature. The fight scenes, the special effects, and even the plot are interesting. It is good to see the Black Widow back in action. They took themes from her Marvel Knights “Homecoming” comic series and it was nice to have those moments subtly injected.
Scarlett Johansson is at her best as Black Widow. The rest of the cast did fine, but she is really on top as the Avenger on the run. She is incredibly talented and you are hooked to her tale of espionage and intrigue. I would like to dispel the rumor that the movie is more about passing the baton than telling a Natasha story. It is a Black Widow story and Johanssen does a great job.
Bottom line, Black Widow is an interesting and intriguing film that does not quite meet that MCU magic from days past, but sure does utilize its star to her fullest potential.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Foul language
FAVORITE QUOTE: I’ve lived a lot of lives… But I’m done running from my past.
Check out the trailer below:
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