Much has been written about how this movie should have happened years ago, as for whatever reasons that Marvel was slow to invest in the idea of a Black Widow solo movie. Even Captain Marvel got to screen ahead of a movie focusing on the first female Avenger, Natasha Romanov, the Black Widow.
Then the pandemic seemed to be working against it, as it is now nearly a year from its first anticipated release. But, laying all of that aside, is the new movie any good?
Spoilers below for Black Widow.
Whenever you think about the MCU and movies that go backwards in time, you have to realize that everyone involved is dancing a delicate timeline. Black Widow is no different. The creatives involved had to find an exact window that allows them to fit in a new story that won’t necessarily impact a future that we have already seen.
And this film manages to do that, sliding in between the end of Captain America: Civil War, along with some flashbacks to an earlier life that Natasha had. It fits quite nicely really, especially when we know how Natasha’s story ends during Avengers: Endgame.
But is the story any good? For the most part, the story holds up pretty well. Natasha is the rare hero without powers; she makes good just on skill and determination. That shows up over and over again as we see her fight, dodge, evade and do whatever it takes. The fight choreography in the film is stellar and you get a real sense of danger and pain in the appropriate places.
What about the villain?
So, it is no secret if you have been watching any promotional materials that one of the Big Bads in this one is Taskmaster. Now, in the Marvel Universe, Taskmaster is a mutant who essentially can mimic what he watches and turns himself into an assassin, and later, a trainer of superheroes. There are some liberties taken for this MCU Taskmaster and while part of me is bummed because of how much I love the comic version, this one works.
Secondarily, there is another evil behind it all that haunts this film. For the first time in awhile, Marvel has created a creature of pure evil; even in the one place where it would appear that the Bad would find sympathy from the audience, they twist it pretty hard.
The Supporting Cast
What caught me off guard was the strength of the supporting cast. First and foremost, Florence Pugh is a revelation as Natasha’s “sister” from their spy family who grows up to be trained as an assassin as well. She matches Johannsen’s Widow stride for stride in the fight scenes as Yelena and it will be interesting to see where they take the character from here.
Likewise, David Harbor adds much comic relief as Alexei aka the Red Guardian, who was the girls’ father in their spy family, only to be thrown in a Russian jail for many years after. As the first (and only?) Soviet Super Soldier, it feels like him meeting up with the Falcon and Winter Soldier feels like a comedic inevitability. But in this film, he brings levity in the right places, even as he establishes himself as being as powerful as he is. And the main cast is rounded out by Spy Mom played by Rachel Weisz, who, if we are being honest, doesn’t do much character wise in this film.
On the whole, Black Widow does exactly what Marvel hoped it would. It established even more backstory for the original Black Widow, seemingly sets up the successor to the idea, if not the name in full, and gives us a peak into a different part of the world, Russia, while wrapping it up nicely in the summer blockbuster style that we have all come to expect from the MCU.
While its violence is much more “real” in terms of gunfire versus superpowers, the content is also disturbing. (One of the villain’s main lines will haunt me for days). So you may want to use your discretion on whether or not to let your little Marvel zombies check it out.