Ever since her appearance in Iron Man 2, fans have campaigned for Black Widow to get her own movie. With each film, the campaign has grown louder and louder to get this character the respect she deserves. After nearly a decade, Marvel Studios finally announced that a solo Black Widow movie would be hitting theatres in 2020. That was the plan until the COVID-19 outbreak put the release date on hold as Disney tried to navigate through uncharted territory as to what to do with their schedule.
They eventually pushed it back to this year as fans finally get to see this project on the big screen. Thankfully, all of that time waiting is well worth the wait as we get to see one of the best characters in the MCU finally get the spotlight.
Black Widow is now playing in theatres and available to buy on Disney+ Premier Access for $30.
Story: Widow’s Webs
In this vast cinematic universe, this film takes place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. We find Natasha on the run from the law as her past comes back to haunt her. There have been numerous references about her past life throughout the whole MCU. Yet, her role in the past films has been only a supporting role. With the spotlight all on our favorite spy, the backstory we’ve been teased with is fully fleshed out. It fits the spy thriller genre as Black Widow tries to uncover a conspiracy involving the Red Room, the facility that trains orphans to become killer agents. Watching this movie actually makes you want to re-watch previous movies to get the full context of her scenes.
Her origins ties into the theme of family for Natasha. The Avengers’ family is no longer active, and she soon finds herself with her distanced surrogate family. They all experience pain from the days of Soviet missions and training at the Red Room. The family dynamics are the most vital parts of the movie. These scenes balance comedy with a heartfelt drama that feels raw at points. Hopefully, we get to see these characters later down the line in Phase 4.
Characters & Performances: A Family Ensemble
It’s crazy to think why they haven’t developed a Black Widow movie sooner. Scarlett Johansson kills it and shows why she’s one of the best characters in this universe. She’s backed up with a great cast, as mentioned before with her suffocating family. Florence Pugh plays Yelena, Natasha’s sister, and she’s absolutely fantastic. They have that classic sister rivalry with their banter as they teased each other while still caring. It’s another example of why Florence Pugh has been such a breakout star lately.
She’s backed up by her former parents, Alexei (also known as the Red Guardian) and Melinda, played by David Harbour and Rachel Weisz. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see much of Melinda until towards the back half, but Alexei is happily front and center. You can tell that he’s proud of his girls, even know he’s not father of the year material. His scenes are definitely the funniest ones in this movie. David Harbour has this intense energy that conveys strength, humor, and heart all at the same time. In a cast that has some fantastic characters, he easily stands out.
Unfortunately, the antagonist, Taskmaster, isn’t as compelling as a character. It’s just used as a plot device to engage the action. You do learn more about the mysterious assassin in the third act, but it feels lackluster. There’s one scene in the middle that really keys in on Taskmaster’s identity. Yet, they still keep it a secret for so long that it kind of drags on. Either make the identity a little harder to guess or reveal it earlier, so the audience isn’t internally shouting that they know.
Cinematography & Sound: 007-Like Action
The action has an intense, gritty hand-to-hand combat reminiscent of a James Bond flick and spectacular. If you have characters that have spent basically their whole life training, you need it to pay it off. Everyone has their little moment to shine in these big set pieces, but there’s one character that stands out from the rest. Surprisingly, the best fight scenes involve Taskmaster. Despite not having much of a character, the way they use the abilities to mimic anyone’s movement is awe-inspiring. The assassin uses that skill by copying every hero’s movement like Spider-Man’s agility, Captain American’s shield throwing, and many more. Then to counter that with Natasha’s skills, and it’s like she’s fighting the Avengers.
Pair that with the score composed by Lorne Balfe, and it’s a great match for the big screen. A big criticism of the MCU is the lack of memorable music, but lately, they’ve been proving us wrong. It would be a stretch to say that Balfe’s piece is top 5. Some scenes have his music, and it’s a little lackluster. But when he goes big, it adds to the magic as heavy Soviet music themes are played, making it exhilarating.
Editing & Pacing: Amazing Credits
The editing is pretty standard for a Marvel movie, except for the opening sequence and title credits. You follow a family revealed to be the Romanoff’s escaping their undercover suburban life and getting Reacquainted with Soviet life. It’s a sequence that’s tense, heartfelt, thrilling, and sometimes downright disturbing. You don’t know what’s going on in these ten minutes as it feels more like a mystery. Then you get hit with the title, and it just sticks with you.
The credits show a montage of widows getting trained in the Red Room, and it’s horrifying. To see their pain as they’re brainwashed to have their life erased is just brutal. Afterward, the movie plays at a nice pace with no hiccups until the third act. You think it’ll end, but it continues. If it happened once, then no big deal, but it occurred three times. By the third time, you’ll start to look at your watch.