Black Widow. Finally. We have waited for greenlight for like a decade and then two more years for the release. The only female original Avenger. In a stand-alone film. Hallelujah.
I know I claim to like more than just Marvel stuff and superheroes but come on. I couldn’t not cover this momentous occasion. I did not regale you with my opinions on any of the new Marvel shows, so I do actually limit myself. But now that we’re on it: Wanda Vision was perfect to ease back in to the MCU and I’m super hyped for more Wanda. Bucky love is true love and I felt nothing but happiness for him – and I’m obsessed with Zemo, of course. Loki I’m on the fence about but I love that he got some character depth.
Okay, back to Black Widow. As always, I’ll tell you loud and clear before I start with the major spoilers. So black widow is sort of a prequel/sequel hybrid set after Captain America: Civil War. So, we know what happened to her before and, sadly, we know what will happen to her after. But since the Widow had always been notoriously private, there were more than enough gaps for this movie to fill. And it really tried.
We start the movie with one of the best montages I have ever seen, detailing a lot of Natasha’s backstory in distorted pictures overlaid with haunting music. It’s disorienting but also extremely powerful, especially if, like me and probably most viewers, you are at least a little familiar with the existing Black Widow lore.
Without getting into spoiler territory, I can also tell you that I adore the whole cast – and that includes the kid version of Natasha and her sister Yelena, who look exactly like mini versions of Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh. Rachel Weisz and David Hopper are also cast spot on. Their distorted family dynamic is something to behold and is essential to the movie. Speaking of essential things, I love how much of the movie is actually spent in the classic Black Widow suits or their white counterparts. And I like how the movie uses accessories – watch out for very pierced ears – and braids to add texture and character. There is also one more piece of clothing that turns out to be very important but more on that in the spoiler-section.
So anyways, cast great, Black Widow suits great and starting montage great. Now onto the plot. I liked it. I liked it so much in fact that I not only paid for a cinema ticket but Disney+ Premier access as well. So that should tell you something – and not just about my spending habits. The premise of the movie is clear: Natasha’s past has come for her and there is stuff to clean up and her sister Yelena to reconnect with. Who is also a Black Widow aka a highly trained assassin. So they go on a private mission together. Through this, we learn more about Natasha’s past and that’s nice and all. The fight scenes are also nice.
But the best thing about Black Widow – and this breaks my heart really – is not getting to see more of Natasha. It’s Yelena. She’s young, she’s realistic and relatable and she is funny as hell. And the movie makes good use of that. Black Widow is as much a tribute to Natasha as it is an origin story for Yelena, who we will probably see a lot more of going forward. And it works out beautifully for that. But Natasha has never been the most flashy character and her dry wit that we have seen glimpses of before is there but is also no match for Yelena. She’s serious and grown-up and brooding and quiet as ever but juxtaposed with Yelena it feels a little two dimensional and cardboard-y. Which I hate because she deserved so much better after all this time. But I do love Yelena and I’m excited to see more of her.
So, all in all, without getting into spoiler territory. It’s a great movie for unexpected reasons and it’s one of the more gritty, down to Earth Marvel films, if there is such a thing. It passes the Bechdel test beautifully and there are a bunch of strong women who are badass but also loyal and vulnerable. There are amazing fighting scenes and SO MANY trained assassin ladies and classic MCU tech and also a whole lot of references and Easter eggs, so my fan-heart was very happy. I do definitely recommend you watch it and I think most reviews and the box office earnings so far agree with me. It was great braving the cinema for the first time in one and a half years for this. Watch the trailer here and see it on the big screen or with Premier Access on Disney+ (or wait until October to watch it on regular Disney+).
SPOILERS INCOMING. SPOILERS, LOTS OF SPOILERS. SERIOUSLY DON’T READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO AVOID MASSIVE SPOILERS.
Now that that’s clear, let’s dive right into it. I was promised info on what happened in Budapest. And I didn’t really get much. Honestly, we (as a fandom) have wondered what happened in Budapest literally since the first Avengers movie. And we were promised answers. They do make a big deal about it too and then don’t deliver. The only thing more overplayed in the movie is the whole “the Avengers are my family” thing. I get that they want to play that angle for comparison reasons and to set up her character for Infinity War and beyond but it felt forced sometimes. Like 80% of her personality was her being an Avenger. I did, however, love that it was part of her gravestone inscription.
What was also on point, was the humor. And the female mindset “visible” behind a lot of it. Like how Yelena shuts down the period comment with graphic detail of female anatomy. Or the vest. The freaking vest. That has all the pocket the black widow suits lack. It’s not only about fashion, it’s about body autonomy and choices. And the way the conversation about the vest goes shows something else too: Sisterhood. The unique dynamic between people who have grown up together is something special that will always shine through and it really does. It feels like a genuine sister relationship and I love that. Maybe I’m just a sentimental big sister myself but it gave me all sorts of feels.
On the other hand, I had zero feels about the taskmaster. I thought it was not very well fleshed out and the backstory and relationship to their own father made no sense to me. But maybe I just cant fully comprehend the kind of monster Dreykov truly is. But also, the taskmaster was one of way too many instances of things that felt not new and strongly reminded me of things seen before. I guess that’s a genre problem at some level. That I have just seen too many Marvel, superhero or action movies. But the taskmaster idea, storyline and especially entrance was just EXTREMELY Winter Soldier like. It was a good entrance but the Winter Soldier did it first and with more impact. And freeing the taskmaster from the cell was very reminiscent of talking down the Hulk. I also felt like the flying fortress falling down wasn’t new, the prison and snow scene was very Triple XXX (2?) and the whole wall of Widows around the world was reminiscent of X-Men’s Cerebro.
But, all in all, I really liked the premise and the more emotional moments a lot and I also liked the whole girls-helping-girls dynamic that came up again and again during different scenes. It was just a very wholesome movie from a female perspective which felt like a breath of fresh air truly. Even the guy with the airplanes and passports was nice and non-sexual and just felt very safe and nice. Even though I didn’t really see the point of including his role. I also didn’t see the point of the ending. Specifically, why she stayed behind to meet Ross and how the hell she got out of that again. It was very confusing, not properly explained and seemed counterproductive. And she could’ve gotten to the point where she takes off in the Quinjet just the same with going with the Widows and her family and having like nice goodbye somewhere else. Just what was the point?
Also, the after credit scene made me so sad for Yelena and I really didn’t appreciate her being set on Barton. Like why. What’s the reasoning. And why is she working with Valentina. Surely, she will be one of the good guys eventually?!
These are my thoughts and I would love to hear yours.