REVIEW – “Black Widow”

It feels like it has been a long-time coming for our OG-Avenger Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) – and I’m not just talking about the countless release date delays due to COVID-19. She’s one of two of the original cast members to not get a solo-project – until now. Black Widow takes place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, showing what Natasha got up to within that window of time and the loose ends she had to take care of before fighting Thanos with the rest of the Avengers. She comes across her adopted sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) who has a bit of a chip on her shoulder when it comes to her past with Natasha, as well as her surrogate parents Melina (Rachel Weisz) and Alexei/Red Guardian (David Harbour) as she fights the mysterious Taskmaster.

There are definitely elements of Black Widow that feel like they belong in a different phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – such as musical cues for the Avengers theme song and references to films that are nearly five-years old at this point. However, from a different point of view, it’s refreshing to see a retrospective look at Natasha. Knowing her fate from Avengers: Endgame helps the grit and realism of this film even more meaningful. While you obviously know that she’ll make it out alive, you also see the life of action weighing on her and how deeply her consequences haunt her even as she tries to make amends.

Scarlett Johansson is great as always as Natasha Romanoff, but it’s truly the chemistry between her and Florence Pugh that stands out amongst everything else going on. I was curious how they’d tell the story of Yelena, especially considering we had never even heard of her up until this point – but the film does a good job at both explaining her absence from the previous films and developing their relationship in a way that is believable and completely lovable. Florence Pugh also gives a tremendous performance as Yelena, as does David Harbour and Rachel Weisz as their surrogate parents who are older and more jaded to trying to fight the Red Room.

My biggest issue with this film is a staple of typical MCU complaints, such as the third-act feeling a bit too bloated and CGI-focused opposed to the first two acts of the film that were completely character-focused and a bit more reserved in terms of action. You go from Jason Bourne-esque fights to giant CGI explosions and things falling from the sky in the matter of minutes. However, there is certainly more good here than bad and I think Black Widow makes for a satisfying albeit imperfect swan-song for one of our favorite Avengers.


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