A good while ago, I rated my excitement levels for Marvel’s upcoming Phase 4 movies. For Black Widow, my hype levels were nothing extraordinary. They were slightly above average but it wasn’t like I was super riled up to go see Black Widow as soon as it came out this year. I would’ve been more excited for it if it released when it was originally scheduled to come out almost a year ago. Sadly, a lot of my excitement fizzled out during that long waiting period.
So I did eventually watch Black Widow but not at a movie theater since they’re all shut down in the Philippines even today. I did manage to watch it over at my friend’s house who, through some magical wizardry, managed to connect to Disney+ even if the service isn’t available here yet. So, with all that in mind, let me give you my honest thoughts on Marvel’s first Phase 4 film, Black Widow.
While Black Widow has been out for a good long while now and a lot of people have seen it already, I still can’t bear to really reveal anything about the film as there’s going to be that small percentage of readers who haven’t seen it. So this will be a SPOILER FREE review. I might have put up an inconsequential questions post about Black Widow in the future but, right now, this will be SPOILER FREE.
Although Black Widow was released after Avengers: Endgame, the movie is actually a prequel and takes place some time after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Natasha Romanof AKA Black Widow is on the run as she broke the Sokovia Accords. While in hiding, she receives a package from her then assumed dead sister, Yelena Belova, and, because of the package was stolen from her former employers of the Red Room, Black Widow becomes the target of Taskmaster, a trained soldier who has the ability to copy the abilities of other Marvel heroes. Natasha now has to find her surrogate family and take the fight to the Red Room.
Maybe something got lost in the translation from the big screen to the small screen or it may be because it’s a prequel and we know everything will be okay at the end. However, in all honesty, there’s just something missing from Black Widow when compared to the other entries of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s like Marvel wasn’t going all out when they were making Black Widow. I was never sucked into the film experience.
That’s not to say Black Widow is a bad movie. There are a lot of things to like about the film actually. The thing that immediately springs to mind is Florence Pugh and her performance as Black Widow’s sister, Yelena. They gave her the bulk of the best lines and personality here. She’s snarky and more rebellious than Natasha is but it doesn’t make her any less deadly. She can be a little too witty at times but I do love how she’s self aware of some of the more superhero tropes like how they land on their feet after falling from a great height.
Actually, come to think of it, everyone in Natasha’s family does a standout job in the acting department. Scarlett Johansson still manages to give a great performance as Black Widow. David Harbour is great as the bumbling, past his prime Russian version of Captain America, Red Guardian. Even Rachael Weisz, who plays Natasha and Yelena’s adoptive mother Melina, does whatever she can with her limited screentime to make her come off as a complete character.
Sadly, not everyone does get the opportunity to get as fleshed out as necessary. This is mostly prominent with the villains. The leader of the Red Room is cartoonishly evil and is one of the most one-note villains I’ve ever seen. Even with the number of very one-dimensional villains the Marvel Cinematic Universe has pumped out, Black Widow’s villain is probably one of, if not the, worst ones to come out from the franchise. It would have been fine if he were cartoony in a fun way but they made him so generic I didn’t bother to learn his name.
I’m also extremely disappointed with that they did with Taskmaster. I don’t have much of a background with the character but I’m very sure the origin we see in Black Widow is nothing like in the comics. That shouldn’t matter but, if they do change Taskmaster’s origins and personality, they better replace it with something that’s at least as intriguing as the original. It’s very easy to figure out who is under the mask. It’s a shame really as the Taskmaster concept is fantastic and it feels wasted here. It’s almost like what they did with Deadpool in Wolverine: Origins. It’s not as bad as that abomination that is the mouthless Deadpool but it comes so close to destroying the character’s general aura of coolness. At least the costume look awesome.
The action in Black Widow is generally good but nothing great. There’s this feeling of deja vu with a lot of them because, while they’re exciting for the most part, they also come off as rather generic and nothing really seems to stand out. There isn’t this really tense battle nor is there an interesting gimmick or situation to make any of the action feel unique. This is another reason why I’m so disappointed with how they utilized Taskmaster! You have an enemy who can copy the moves of the Avengers and it’s not used in a particularly interesting fight scene!
However, the most disappointing thing of Black Widow is the plot. It took me a long time to figure out what was bugging me about the entire story and I didn’t really understand why everything felt so underwhelming. Eventually, I realized what was bugging me about the story. It’s the general lack of connective tissue with the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe. I always had this feeling of a grander connection with the other films and they just flowed together into one cohesive story. This felt like a side story and doesn’t affect anything in the grander Marvel Cinematic Universe. Oh, there’s an after credit scene which will definitely affect one of the Disney+ shows but it feels like it was tacked on at the last minute.
In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have been too excited for a Black Widow movie a year or so ago. As badass as the character is and how deserving she was of her own solo film, Marvel didn’t put in the necessary serious effort to make it worthwhile.
Oh, note to Marvel, please reintroduce Taskmaster the right way in the future. Thanks.
Have you seen Black Widow? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!