*Did you watch Endgame?
Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy, and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.
“I’ve lived a lot of lives… But I’m done running from my past.”
We have talked a lot about Marvel on this site, but it has been awhile since there has been an MCU movie that we can discuss. The pandemic delayed their Phase 4 plans and then they decided to give us a few TV series for Disney Plus. Shows like WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki have given us the taste of MCU that we fans love. However, there is nothing like the experience of a Marvel movie, especially in a theater.
The first film of Phase 4 is now Black Widow and it is a movie that, to say the least, is a long time coming. Scarlett Johansson has been in 8 Marvel movies dating all the way back to Iron Man 2. She is one of the most integral parts of the Avengers movies and fans have been clamoring for a solo movie for years. So to see it come after she (spoiler alert) died in Endgame is kind of a bummer. However, movies like The Godfather II and the Star Wars movies have successfully told backstories to dead characters, so why can’t Marvel do it?
Black Widow directed by Cate Shortland is basically exactly what you expect in a Natasha movie. We get incredible and intense action scenes, her Russian spy backstory, and of course the obligatory stinger to move the plot forward for the overall MCU. We also get a chance to meet Natasha’s family which gives ScarJo a chance to really shine. Natasha grew up in a situation like The Americans, where she and her “sister” Yelena (Florence Pugh), were put with Alexei (David Harbour) and Melina (Rachel Weisz) in a house in Ohio to spy for the Russians. Alexei otherwise known as the Red Guardian has abilities like Captain America but never really gets a chance to use them. They are scattered back off to Russia and separated until later in the movie. A resurfacing of an old enemy forces Natasha to confront her past though and find her family.
Where the problem of the movie lies is a familiar problem that Marvel has which is the villain is underdeveloped, and the stakes never feel that high. Taskmaster was the hyped antagonist for this movie, which is awesome because his ability is to mimic any foe. So he can fight like Captain America or Iron Man, or even Black Widow which makes TM a very formidable foe. The issue is they hardly utilize the character and try very hard to connect the character to the overall villain of Dreykov (Ray Winstone). There was a lot of potential here for a high stakes battle with Taskmaster and none of them truly live up to the hype.
Stock Neutral – Scarlett Johansson
She has been doing this forever and is one of the biggest stars on the planet, so this is not going to change that very much. It is amazing to finally see her leading a Marvel movie though and she will be sorely missed moving forward because her presence was so large throughout the first 3 phases of the MCU.
Stock Up – Florence Pugh
She has been on the rocket ship for awhile now, and credit to me for having her as my Rising Star in 2019. Her turn as Yelena is so good that she basically steals the movie. She gets all the comedic work and when she gets into the action scenes she fits right in and has no problem going toe to toe in scenes with ScarJo. She will be one of the stars of the MCU moving forward and I could not be more excited.
Stock Up – David Harbour
He has been working for a long time at this and seems to be getting some big time roles lately. Of course, his work in Stranger Things is great, but I did not love his turn as Hellboy. So to see him bring so much energy and fun to the MCU was something I did not expect. I look forward to seeing him in future projects as well for Marvel.
*A couple other tidbits
- Rachel Weisz is great as well, I just did not think she had a whole lot to do.
- Are we still doing this with Thunderbolt Ross? That guy STINKS!
- The CGI was not very good at all especially in the second half of the movie.
- The was relatively unmemorable which is sad because I really want them to personalize scores for their characters.
I am not the first persona to say it, but this movie is obviously 5 years too late. It is still fun and gives us a ton of backstory for a great character, it just lacks the necessary stakes because of what happened in Endgame. The performances of the characters and the action though make this a fun ride still and a great swan song for Natasha.
*You can find my 2021 Movie Rankings here.
*You can find my MCU rankings here.
*You can find all of my Movie Ratings here.
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