Black Widow – 4/10
It had been 738 days since Marvel Studios last gave us a dazzling display on the big screen with Spider-Man Far From Home and following that it was evident that Disney weren’t making any plans to slow down on their busy superhero schedule following the conclusion of the Infinity Saga. That was until the horrendous COVID-19 pandemic affected the entire globe including the film and cinema industry which more or less shut down, leaving all upcoming releases on the back burner until such time it was safe to go back and enjoy them again.
Many studios took the risk without cinemas opened and utilised streaming platforms to air their new releases. WarnerMedia launched HBO Max in May last year where all new Warner Bros. titles were released for audiences to purchase and watch from the comfort of their own homes. The “new box office” performances of last years releases were evidently not as much as before despite there still being so many exciting titles. Disney played their part too and launched Disney+ worldwide but they also found difficulty when a Mulan cinema release was pulled and was released solely on their streaming platform, grossing a disappointing $70 million against a $200 million budget.
Despite their movies being delayed, Kevin Fiege was still able to expand the MCU via three television shows that aired in late 2020 and the beginning of this year. WandaVision, Falcon and The Winter Solider and Loki all gained critical acclaim as Marvel cooked up their big screen atmosphere and rolled it out over a number of television episodes. Fans were still hopeful of the return of their beloved movies and fast forward 738 days we would have our first MCU movie since Far From Home in the shape of deadly assassin turned Avenger – Black Widow.
Originally meant to hit screens in May 2020, the movie takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War and sees Natasha Romanoff still on the run and having to face her past and more importantly her family.
Now before I get in to saying what I liked and disliked about it I’ll admit that when this was movie was announced I wasn’t overly convinced. We already know what Black Widow’s fate is (ENDGAME SPOILERS!) and having a solo movie set before that wouldn’t really develop her much as a character as we have already seen how her story ends. Nevertheless, it was still shaping up to be filled with the usual thrill of the MCU and the prospect of Taskmaster being the villain was quite intriguing.
So was the MCU’s return to cinema a triumph or have they produced a major hiccup after so many years of success?
I’ll start off by saying that this was a complete non event for me and it just didn’t feel like a Marvel movie. Let’s talk about our titular hero and whether or not it gives the perfect farewell for Scarlett Johansson? I’ve seen many people say that they didn’t give her the spotlight despite it being her own movie and I have to agree. It just seemed that anytime she was on screen with other people she was just there in the background letting other people shine. Take Florence Pugh for example who plays Romanoff’s sister Yelena, another Black Widow who has been training alongside Natasha in the Red Room all of her life. Pugh completely steals the show here and it’s almost like they nerfed the Black Widow in her own story to show how strong the other characters are.
The chemistry between the two is quite important but as I mentioned earlier it provides us backstory to a character that we know is about to go on a mission with the Avengers after this that is eventually going to lead to her death.
There is a good cast to work with but they just doesn’t seem to click together despite the main aspect of it all being Natasha coming together again with those made to be family figures to her. David Harbour is pretty entertaining as Red Guardian but some of his gags end up being repetitive and Rachael Weisz is completely wasted as the Black Widow turned mother to Romanoff.
I’ve praised the MCU for its villains over the last few years but Black Widow gives us potentially the worst one yet in Ray Wistone who plays Dreykov, a Russian general who controls the Red Room that is responsible for the creation of the Black Widows. Winstone poses no threat whatsoever and his motives are just thrown together without any real consideration. He’s just a typical spy movie villain that you would see in any James Bond or Mission Impossible movie. And speaking of them that’s where I think the movie struggles most, replace Natasha Romanoff with Ethan Hunt or 007 in the exact same plot and you have the perfect setting for another MI or Bond movie.
We can blame the failures all on the delayed release because of the pandemic but Marvel took way to long to give us the movie to begin with. It would have made much more sense if it came before Infinity War rather than being a desperate throwback attempt in an effort to give Scarlett Johansson a fitting farewell after her death in Endgame was massively overshadowed by Tony Stark’s.
The Taskmaster identity was another massive opportunity missed and it was reduced to a reveal and twist that was worse than Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3.
Overall, Black Widow starts off quite promising with its opening scene and lays the groundwork for an impressive movie but midway through it complete changes its mood and becomes quite cliched with forced action sequences in a movie that ends up not having any real purpose.