The Marvel train continued to roll during the pandemic with door-to-door offerings like Wandavision and Loki. (Many thanks, Disney +!) However, blockbuster movies have been on the ice for a few years. (Fuck you, pandemic!)
Well, this successful drought ended with the long Black Widow. It’s a great start for Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, and an even finer intro for Florence Pugh’s new Marvel entry, Yelena Belova, Natasha’s little sister. This is the movie Natasha deserves, which means the Marvel Film Universe is back on the big screen in a typically solid fashion.
Say this for Marvel: They do a good job telling origin stories and always make sure the formula is new. This time around, they’re going with director Cate Shortland, who delivers a heartfelt, gritty ode to beloved Natasha without skimping on the action. There are some sequences, including an air battle at the end of the film, that are some of Marvel’s best to date. You won’t be disappointed if you choose to watch this on the big screen rather than at home: Black Widow delivers cinematic adrenaline.
The story goes back to Natasha’s early years and, unsurprisingly, her childhood really sucked. Her father is Alexei, played by the always fun David Harbor. Alexei de Harbor is a former Russian exiled superhero who is dying to put his costume back on, and when he does, there are a few extra pounds around the waste… and on his buttocks, upper thighs, etc. . Harbor’s character is an imperfect man with a terrible dark side, but the actor also shows his humor and humanity.
Rachel Weisz is Melina, the mother of Natasha, a renowned Russian scientist who teaches pigs to do human things. Natasha and Yelena receive a strange education from Alexei and Melina before meeting the film’s main villain, Dreykov (Ray Winstone). Dreykov brings up the girls in his red room (not related to Twin peaks), where they learn the ways of the assassin, through abuse and mind control.
Natasha has always been the most “human” of the Avengers, so it makes sense that the villains and the action in Black Widow are a little more down to earth. There is no time travel, no exaggerated superpowers, and no multiverse; the battles in this chapter are more realistic. Well, the realism is an exaggeration, but Doctor Strange doesn’t show up with the Infinity Stones and Thor doesn’t throw hammers. This one has car chases and fist fights!
Black Widow is, of course, a prequel, which mostly takes place around the time before Natasha dyed her hair blonde and embarked on the events of Infinity war and End of Game. Give thanks to the writers and Johansson for making Natasha’s time on screen enjoyable and exciting, even though we know her eventual fate.
Oh, and as always… STAY FOR END CREDITS. It always amazes me when everyone gets up and leaves during the Marvel Credits. Will they ever learn?
Johansson and Pugh are an atomic duo, convincing ass kickers with a good sense of humor. Their initial meeting is one for the ages, with guns and knives. The transfer of actresses to stuntmen during the sequence is transparent; again, Marvel has its shit together.
This is Shortland’s first foray into blockbusters, and she succeeded. A lot of things in this movie swirl and explode, and Shortland keeps the visuals realistic. The film is high and tight on all technical fronts.
Johansson, more than likely, has left for roles outside of Marvel; Pugh, on the other hand, has just started in the universe, with his Yelena playing a starring role in the upcoming Disney + series. Hawk Eye. (Yes, Jeremy Renner will shoot those arrows again soon.) It’s a fitting, exciting and heartwarming passing of the baton – and a reminder that while many chapters have closed, the future of the Marvel Universe remains very bright. .
Black Widow plays in theaters in the valley. It is also available on Disney + for premium rental during its theatrical release.