Late To The Party
Black Widow is one of the many unfortunately casualties of last year’s pandemic. Pushed back a year, Black Widow feels like a weird detour in the MCU, slamming on the brakes for an enjoyable but ultimately five-years-too-late espionage action flick.
After the crazy events of Infinity War and Endgame – and with Phase 4 in full swing – it seems odd then to take a step back to see Black Widow’s origins. Specifically, this film nestles itself between the events of Civil War and Infinity War – which feels like a lifetime ago now.
Tensions are at an all-time high and the Avengers are fractured. Natasha Romanoff finds herself alone, and this forms the crux of drama for this movie to step into. This solo adventure takes ideas from X-Men 2, James Bond and Atomic Blonde to produce a high-octane action ride with plenty of drama and tension. It’s just a pity it’s taken so long for this to drop.
The story opens with a look at Natasha’s upbringing. It’s a brief segment, but one that sets up the family unit that becomes integral to this movie’s arc. Raised by her parents and alongside sister Yelena, Natasha’s past is dark and full of pain. After a breathless chase sequence involving cars, planes and explosions, we fast forward to Natasha on the run. In doing so, she’s also forced to face the consequences of her actions as a spy.
It’s here where Black Widow is at its strongest. There are some really well-worked bits of dialogue here where Natasha questions what it means to be an Avenger. There are times where her lack of superpowers are scrutinized, along with some genuine doubts over whether she can even class these dysfunctional superheroes as a family.
Family is the key word here though and as the drama starts to heat up, the film strips that back for more of the trademark Marvel humour. There’s one particular gag around Black Widow’s posing which is used well, but other times it feels ill fitting and tonally jarring, especially during the film’s third act.
As one would expect from a Marvel movie, here’s plenty of action here to sink your teeth into. There’s a particularly impressive car chase, as well as a dizzying aerial escape that feels like it’s taken a page out of Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s book. There’s certainly no shortage of these moments and the movie tries to balance that out with family drama quite well.
Where it’s less successful however, is with its overarching story and antagonistic threat. Marvel have always had a villain problem and that much is especially true here. There’s some talk of mind control and big businessmen but to be honest, there’s really not a lot to this. It’s all very forgettable stuff, with the focus squarely on Black Widow.
That focus on Natasha and her family essentially glues the entire second half of the movie together as they confront the demons of their past. The resolution to all of this is quite good too, although as I said before the antagonists just don’t have any memorable moments.
More memorable however is the post-credit scene which looks like it could prove to be a decisive moment in the direction of Marvel’s Phase 4. No spoilers here of course but you’re definitely going to want to stick around for this one.
While serving up a fun outing and an interesting direction for Marvel, Black Widow feels like it’s five years too late. It’s still a fun ride but in terms of its placement in the universe – and the inclusion of a bland and forgettable antagonist – Widow isn’t as effective as it could have been had it been released at the height of this character’s popularity.
Black Widow releases on Disney+ July 7th worldwide!