Iron Man 2 was released in 2010. This may seem like a strange way to start off a review but go with me. After all, this was where audiences were introduced to Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson). Now 11 years later and 7 appearances across the MCU Black Widow finally receives her own solo outing. How does Natasha’s long-awaited adventure size up? Does it stick the landing? Is it too late for her to finally have her time in the limelight and most importantly of all will we find out what happened in Budapest?
Black Widow chronologically is set right after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Natasha is on the run while the government is rounding up the remaining Avengers. Steve is in the wind and Tony is with the government trying to fix everything. Tired of all the crap, whether it be espionage or superheroics Natasha just wants to relax and hunker down in seclusion.
Unfortunately, fate has more in store for her as she is attacked by a masked assailant. This demon mimics all the best hits of her comrades including Hawkeye, Captain America all in the name of taking what she has in her possession, strange vials filled with a crimson liquid. She gets away and decides that she needs to get in touch with her roots and so she heads to Budapest to meet her sister Yelena (Florence Pugh). From here ladies and gentlemen the game is afoot and it’s a lot of fun, it’s also incredibly emotional.
Black Widow – It’s all about family
Black Widow is a story about family and how family doesn’t just have to be blood. Natasha since we mether has been something of a loner but her adventures with the Avengers have allowed her to lower her guard. In Black Widow we learn how those walls were first put up and how when she tries to find her first family she has to be ready to be hurt again. It’s a fascinating journey for a superhero in particular one like Natasha who is still quite a mystery to fans of the MCU.
Unlike most films that try to explore the backgrounds of characters that have become infamous because of their mystique, Black Widow is actually quite compelling. It’s all down to the cast. Johansson brings it in this outing for a character she has played for over a decade. She has this fascinating duality to her. When we meet her she is the usual Natasha we’ve followed over the course of the MCU, but when she meets all these figures from her past she regresses and she is almost like a new more vulnerable version of herself. It’s compelling to watch.
Matching her blow for blow is Florence Pugh as her “sister” Yelena. Yelena is absolutely brilliant. She calls Natasha out on all her bull and is a constant source of entertainment throughout the film. Whether it be her incredible action beats to her emotional outbursts at the destructive family unit she is a part of Pugh’s Yelena is a child in a grown woman’s body. There is a naivety to her that is quite enthralling. Rounding out this unconventional family unit is Rachel Weisz and David Harbour. These two are the parental figures of Natasha and Yelena and they bring such a wonderful sense of unconventional pride when they see their children again. The whole family dynamic is written wonderfully and the cast brings it together to create something quite beautiful.
While things do change others stay the same
While Black Widow has such wonderful intimate drama there are still the same issues creeping up. For example, Black Widow has a villain problem like most MCU films. The character is poorly developed and even though he has great motivation, Bond-esque he doesn’t sell it.
It doesn’t help the main villain is played by Ray Winstone who is delivering a terrible Russian accent. The main muscle of the antagonistic force is the Taskmaster. This character was interesting but it was quite obvious, to me at least, why they were. And sadly it wasn’t developed further beyond that terrific foundation they’d laid down.
Then comes the over the top CGI fest at the climax of the film. It slightly takes away from the impact of the more intimate moments of the previous two-thirds of Black Widow. My biggest gripe with the film is that this should have been released sooner. I want more adventures with Natasha after watching this.
Black Widow is an emotional and thrilling swansong for the first lady of Marvel. The acting is top-notch, the action, before it goes into CGI madness, is compelling and this has one of the most compelling emotional cores of any MCU film out there. Stay tuned to Scannain for more news, reviews and interviews.