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Movie Reviews

‘Black Widow’ review: An enlightening and fun look into the Avengers’ most mysterious member

Black Widow is a welcome return of the MCU to the big screen.

After a series of delays, Black Widow is set to be released on July 9 in both movie theaters and Disney+ with Premier Access. Though the new TV shows such as WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki have all been great ways to stay connected to the MCU, the film is a welcome return to the big screen.

The events occur following Captain America: Civil War with Natasha on the run from the U.S. government. Suddenly, her past comes back to haunt her and she must confront the very group responsible in making her a Black Widow. Along the way, she reforges old relationships and recruits previous allies to aid her in her mission.

With the movie, we finally receive an origin story to the Avengers’ most enigmatic member. Natasha has had a checkered history as a spy and we’ve only been given vague hints and references in the earlier MCU films. Black Widow begins filling in some of those holes and it sheds some light on why she is the way she is including her trust issues and why she is so guarded. We are introduced to those she was most close with prior to becoming a superhero and it’s a compelling arc to watch how her past misdeeds still haunt her and her attempts to make amends.

The plot features some current issues such as how the Red Room finds their recruits. Through the brainwashing and conditioning, they are literally taking choice away from women and Natasha hopes to free them like she was able to do for herself. The Red Room itself has been updated to give it a more global feel rather than a Russian centric spin.

Scarlett Johansson proves she has the charisma and talent to anchor her own superhero film. We already knew she can dish it out but here we see how much she can take. It’s a more hardcore side of her character in a John McClane/Die Hard kind of way where she goes to great lengths to get the job done. Unlike her fellow Avengers, Natasha isn’t enhanced or has a spiffy suit that grants her powers. She’s a regular human, albeit highly trained, and we are reminded of her physical vulnerability throughout.

black widow film 2
Photo: Marvel Studios

There is a huge family aspect in Black Widow with regards to her colleagues Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour), Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh). Harbour’s Red Guardian is the muscle providing much of the comic relief while Pugh is an absolute revelation as Belova. The actress exudes little sister vibes with all her attitude and teasing of Natasha while also bringing a lot of the heart. She is the youngest of the group and their family was the most real to her. Yelena also serves as a nice contrast to Natasha being the more emotional one and although both can kick some serious butt, she doesn’t exhibit the grace and subtlety of the Avenger. 

As expected, there are great action sequences with some brutal choreography. The entire final act is an engrossing aerial battle and it’s interesting to see how the plan comes together via flashback. There are also some great callbacks to the character’s work in the older MCU installments. However, it can get a bit over the top and go into obvious CGI territory.

The movie does suffer from the Marvel villain problem. Ray Winstone’s Dreykov is a generic evil genius with plans to control the world. There isn’t much depth there and the Taskmaster is a nice silent but deadly type that is a formidable foe. There is also a bit of predictability in some of the reveals but sometimes the execution is so good, such as Natasha and Dreykov’s final confrontation, that you’re willing to overlook it.

Overall, Black Widow is the summer blockbuster that gives a proper swansong to a character so impactful in the MCU. It has all the loud, fun action and comedy you’d want while providing a deeper peek and different side of Natasha Romanoff.

Black Widow will be released July 9 in theaters and Disney+ with Premier Access.

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