Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Natasha Romanoff is on the run from Thunderbolt Ross and the U.S. government. The Black Widow hopes to erase some of the “red” from her ledger by taking down the Red Room and all responsible for the horrific brainwashing of vulnerable young women. Natasha recruits “family” from a former life to assist in the destruction of the very organization that stole her life.
Time to dust the cobwebs off my keyboard to review an MCU film for the first time in over a year. Black Widow is an extremely entertaining film that should have released 5 years ago. Thankfully, Marvel has finally taken steps forward to spotlight the amazing female heroes within their universe.
Let’s get the imperfections out of the way first shall we? The villains are immediately forgettable. The moment General Dreykov’s daughter and her fate were mentioned, it was clear she would later be revealed as Taskmaster. Naming her Antonia as a callback to the comic iteration of Taskmaster, Anthony “Tony” Masters, was a nice touch. While the action sequences with Taskmaster were brilliant, the film did not make me care about her as a character. Additionally, the final fight sequence between Natasha and Taskmaster was brief, abrupt and disappointing.
Now with that unpleasantness out of the way, it’s time to highlight the many victories of Black Widow. What the film lacks in a compelling villain, it more than makes up for with powerful themes of family, heartbreak and redemption. Scarlett Johansson is fantastic as always. If this truly is her last portrayal of Natasha, she should be extremely proud of her performance and journey since Iron Man 2. With little screen time, Rachel Weisz fulfills her role perfectly. David Harbor as Red Guardian is a blessing to behold. His performance was the perfect balance between humor and idiocy.
The standout performance from this film is easily Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova. From the moment she is introduced, Yelena commands your attention. Florence’s comedic timing and line delivery is impeccable. Multiple times in the theater, I could not hear certain lines because the audience was still laughing at her previous line of dialogue. It’s not simply her potty mouth, physical humor and wittiness that are a sight to behold. Florence truly shines for her ability to portray vulnerability and emotional anguish related to repeated disregard from the only family she has ever known. It is no surprise the end credit scene shows Valentina recruiting her for a new job as Florence Pugh clearly has a bright future in the MCU.
Black Widow is a fantastic installment to the MCU. With exhilarating action, fantastic humor and a compelling sense of family, Black Widow is an absolute win for Marvel. While some may think this film was unnecessary as Natasha is already dead, it introduces Yelena and sets the groundwork for multiple storylines moving forward. I enjoyed every minute of this film in the theater surrounded by my friends, which is really all I can hope for with a film.