Black Widow Movie Review: Scarlett Johansson’s MCU Farewell Is Too Afraid to Be More

Black Widow – currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar, more than a month and a half after Disney+ launched – disappointing in many ways. As a spy action thriller, it is a blend of other films of the same genre. An interweaving of the film’s female leads is reminiscent of the choreography and cinematography in the Paul Greengrass Jason Bourne films played by Matt Damon. Black WidowThe first Budapest car chase is drawing energy from Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible. Another shot in that scene reminds me of the 2012 James Bond movie Skyfall, with Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem. One character even watched a Bond movie in Black Widow — specifically, the 1979 Roger Moore-starred Moonraker — serves as a bit of a foreshadowing of later events in the Marvel movie.

At times, it feels as if director Cate Shortland (Lore, Somersault, Berlin Syndrome) and her team have researched the great points of their genre while searching for inspiration – and finally did. borrow their best qualities. That could have worked. Unfortunately, Black WidowAction by action is a combination that seems to apply others, without ever getting close to those heights. The only bright spot of originality is the self-aware nature of the Marvel movie. That allows it to skew the title character’s commonly used “hero pose” or take down a bragging kid who’s overconfident in his abilities.

But bigger crimes are reserved for the film’s characters. Black Widow It’s too late for Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, who deserves a full arc outside of her Avengers trophy. Instead, she received a breakup text. It also wastes its helmeted Taskmaster villain, who has the potential to be so much more. Thankfully, Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova is better served. Marvel never really made indie movies, so a skeptic might argue that Black Widow basically a $200 million backdoor pilot (about Rs 1,490). This is Pugh’s vehicle for Marvel’s debut to replace the outgoing Johansson, who was killed off in the studio’s biggest movie of all time, Avengers: Endgame.

And finally, Black Widow It also annoys fans in India as it’s the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie in years that doesn’t release on time or in theaters. Marvel fans in India, especially those who watched English movies with local dubs, had to endure a long wait. It took a while in large part thanks to Disney+’s date and day release strategy — one that has drawn Disney alone into a lawsuit with Johansson, over reduced earnings from missed box office profits. And it’s skipping movie theaters thanks to Marvel’s packaging, what with Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings premieres the same day in cinemas.

Black Widow opens in 1995 in suburban Ohio, where young Natasha (Ever Anderson) and Yelena (Violet McGraw) play a family with their Russian KGB undercover parents, Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour, from Stranger Things) and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz, Oscar winner). If this sounds like Marvel will take the American award for you, it is. But just for the short term – maybe Disney+ will order a prequel series with Harbor and Weisz someday. That’s because the pretend family is soon forced to flee. Natasha and Yelena are taken away to begin training in the Red Room, at the behest of General Dreykov (Ray Winstone, from The Departed), who considers the little girls as disposable assets for his spy program. He is a glorified human trafficker.

Cut to 2016, when an adult Natasha (Johansson) is once again forced to go on the run. This time, she violated the Sokovia Pact, the globally ratified stipulation established in Captain America: Civil War that forbids superheroes from acting on their own. Natasha departs for Europe, where – of course, because it’s a movie – her life immediately collides with adult Yelena (Pugh), who is working as a Widow outside of Budapest. Correct, Black Widow finally tells us what happened in Budapest, paying off for a (throwaway) setting first introduced in 2012’s The Avengers, where Natasha and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) head to the capital. Hungary in its climactic battle with the Chitauri in New York City.

Spoilers ahead for Black Widow. Stop reading if you haven’t seen the Marvel movies.

That’s not the focus of Black Widow however, it just fills in the blanks. This is a movie about Natasha confronting her past: the red in the ledger and her old family. Natasha hadn’t seen them in two decades when she encountered Yelena, and the reunion wasn’t pleasant. Yelena blamed her “sister” for abandoning her when she went and joined the Avengers, and it’s clear that Natasha hasn’t given it much thought. While young Nat knows family is to believe, it’s all true for Yelena. That left permanent dark scars. In an important dinner table scene in Black Widow, where every member of the family is arguing and lashing out at each other, Pugh’s Yelena is the only quiet one – reminiscing about her childhood naturally upsets her.

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Rachel Weisz, Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh in Black Widow
Image credit: Jay Maidment / Marvel Studios

It helps Pugh perform this role brilliantly. She delivers the scary (you can really feel her in that dining table moment) and the funny moment (the “hero pose” joke is hers, as well as the description with images of female sterilization that you wouldn’t expect to be funny, but weird). Those two contrasting elements are tied together in Pugh’s move with Harbour, whose Alexei is a tortured man consumed by the life he doesn’t live. As the only Super Soldier in the East and dubbed the Red Guardian, he believes himself to be the Soviet counterpart to Captain America – and holds that larger-than-life dream even decades later. there. In fact, Alexei failed his daughters, as they told him many times Black Widow. Melina is the most private of them all, she has closed herself off from (emotions and) the world.

For Natasha’s ledger bit, Black Widow screenwriter Eric Pearson (Thor: Ragnarok, Godzilla vs. Kong) – working on a story developed by WandaVision creator Jac Schaeffer, and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, writer-director Ned Benson – decided intend to make it personal. What’s the worst thing Natasha could do? In Black Widow, we discovered that as part of her defection to SHIELD, Natasha was tasked with taking down Dreykov. To ensure his death, she blows up a building while Dreykov is inside with her daughter Antonia (Ryan Kiera Armstrong). That’s right, who just to protect little girls, killed an innocent little girl as collateral. But as is typical of the MCU where no one actually dies, Dreykov somehow survives – and so does Antonia, albeit disfigured.

Actually, that last bit is Black WidowA big twist, where Taskmaster is an adult Antonia (Olga Kurylenko, from Quantum of Solace). But that’s exactly where it goes wrong. By hiding Kurylenko, Black Widow wasted opportunity to butcher Antonia. Natasha is the villain in her opinion, it’s wonderfully complex stuff. So sad, Black Widow double the crime by turning Antonia into a literal puppet of her father. She doesn’t need to be controlled to go after Natasha, who literally blew her up as a kid. That’s motivating enough. But Black Widow resentfully take that away from her. All to further clarify the Dreykov villain – and the #MeToo topic it’s promoting. Black Widow would be stronger if it allowed Antonia to own her story.

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Olga Kurylenko as Antonia Dreykov / Taskmaster in Black Widow
Image credit: Jay Maidment / Marvel Studios

Coming after Endgame, where Natasha sacrificed her life for a greater cause, Black Widow always fighting with a difficult task. Limited maneuverability for her stand-alone business – it can’t be set up after Endgame. And it feels like it’s trapped by the events of all the other MCU movies that have to do with her. The annoying thing is, Black Widow for more than half a decade. But Marvel Studios has been waiting and waiting for years, and its (delayed) arrival feels like an apology to fans of both Black Widow and Johansson. Yes, we finally have something, but in the end Black Widow serve the MCU more than Johansson or the audience at this point.

Its only win is that Pugh will move on to the Disney+ series Hawk Eye, as Black Widow Post-credits scenes reveal, and possibly a Black Widow 2 below the line. The remaining fans wondered what could have happened. And the remaining Johansson must battle a lawsuit against the world’s biggest entertainment giant – a task that seems overwhelming for Natasha’s abilities.

Black Widow was released on September 3 on Disney+ Hotstar in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada.


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