And just like that, Marvel’s officially back on the big screen and I couldn’t be happier! Luckily, the wait for this one was actually worth it, too.
Set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Black Widow follows Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) as she dodges the authorities hell-bent on putting her in jail with the rest of her superhero friends. But as it’s immediately made apparent, Natasha isn’t about to let that happen, and is instead forced into a dangerous game of life and death after individuals from her past — like fellow Black Widow and “sister”, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), former Russian super soldier, Red Guardian aka Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour), and seasoned spy, Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) — turn her quiet life post-Sokovia Accords upside down. Hunted by other Widows, a new calculating villain named Taskmaster and a whole bunch of evil people linked to her time in the Black Widow training facility known as the Red Room, Natasha must link back up with her “family” to not only save herself, but many others like her.
After numerous delays thanks to the pandemic, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is back in style with a movie that’s way better than it should have been. Coming off the heels of Natasha’s death in Avengers: Endgame, Black Widow gives fans a nice send-off for a character that’s been around more or less from the beginning, while simultaneously giving fans a nice restart for Marvel’s heroes on the big screen.
Hanging the script on Natasha’s past coming back to both haunt and help her, the story is actually much more personal than expected, giving the entire film a feeling of coming full circle not just for fans, but for the Black Widow character as well. Kicking things off with a flashback sequence that sets the movie off right, the idea of Natasha and her fake Russian spy family being the beating heart of this film is an interesting idea that mostly works when focusing on the relationships between the quartet, yet falters a bit when trying to force some of the now patented MCU comedy into every crevice that it can fit; something that’s highly annoying considering the action present in this film sets a proper tone that doesn’t really need the added levity of a few eye-roll worthy chuckles.
That being said, the action does A LOT to help this film, mostly because it’s shot in a way that feels brutally real while still finding ways to keep its “comic book” sensibilities, giving fans set pieces that fire on all cylinders, and are a true joy to watch unfold throughout. Add in the Terminator-esque character of Taskmaster to the already stellar action (despite the character themself leaving a lot to be desired, especially for fans of the comic version of the villain), and you have a movie that’s competently shot and solidly scripted (when it wants to be), yet slightly muddled and messy when not on its game.
Like the rush job and pure cash grab that was Captain Marvel, at its worst Black Widow is a movie that feels similar to that one in a sense that there’s a lot going on but nothing of substance behind some of it, yet at its best it’s a gritty, intense version of Captain America: Winter Soldier, perfectly encapsulating the Black Widow character and what her corner of the MCu looks like. Luckily, the final cut leans more into the latter movie, but its hard to ignore some of the more Captain Marvel-esque issues I had with it, bringing the overall score down more than expected.
So while Black Widow doesn’t stick every landing, it does more than enough to give fans a perfect way to usher Marvel films back into theaters after such a long delay. The action is wild, the story is more legit than expected and the script is solid (for the most part), but it can’t be denied that the final product comes out a bit muddled and forced in spots, giving the film a slightly uneven feel, yet effectively still being able to capitalize on a character that may never be seen in the MCU again. And for that, I tip my hat to the filmmakers for giving fans exactly what they deserved with this one. On to the next one!