After years of patience and COVID setbacks, Marvel has finally released their Black Widow standalone movie. The movie is a compelling action story, centring on family and what that means for the titular characters. But while the film is a good one, it is a late one. Here’s our review of Black Widow.
SPOILERS: Be warned there are spoilers ahead.
The film stars Scarlet Johansson in one of her last, if not the last, portrayals of Black Widow. Alongside her is Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff, and David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian. The film opens on the family in the ’90s, living an idyllic American lifestyle. But after a police chase and a jet over to Cuba, it is revealed that this “family,” is actually just a collection of Russian secret agents. The parents were tasked with taking down a base and retrieving information. The children were just cover, and while Natasha was aware of the situation, Yelena was only six and thought this was her real family. Alexei and Melina then hand Natasha and Yelena over to the Red Room. A Russian organization that kidnaps young girls and turns them into assassins.
Fast forward to the “present” or rather, the events directly after Civil War. Natasha thought she destroyed the Red Room with Hawkeye in Budapest (a call back to the first Avengers movie). But after she reunites with Yelena, who has just escaped their mind-washing, they learn that the Room still exists. Teaming up with Melina and Alexei, this pseudo-family has to work together to take down the organization that has hurt each of them.
All of the performances in this film were stellar, but the one that stands out the most is Florence Pugh. She gives an outstanding and heartfelt performance in the midst of an action film. Playing off the sense of abandonment, of knowing the best years of her life were a lie, wrestling with the harm she’s caused as an assassin, her performance is real and genuine in a way that isn’t seen much in the genre. She’s also incredibly funny, alongside Harbour, who steals the show as comedic relief.
The Red Room
Outside of some particularly sloppy special effects, the film is compelling and interesting. But the film tends to culminate with Natasha facing off against Ray Winstone as Dreykov, the leader of the Red Room. While the scene is meant to showcase Natasha’s ability as a spy and showcases her skills at retrieving information, it comes across as a little icky. It has Natasha face her abuser, and be weak and powerless for most of the scene. Even though all that was a ploy, it still felt uneasy. She takes way too long to attempt to kill Dreykov, and the film almost sets up her emotions as an obstacle, rather than what sets Natasha apart from her past.
The goal was probably to have a bunch of cool and capable women fight each other. But these are also women who had their entire agency taken from them. They were all in need of saving. And while it was Natasha and Yelena who saved them, it was less about female empowerment and more about women in need of rescue. It didn’t have the “Wonder Woman” effect. It didn’t make me feel empowered. In fact, everything to do with the Red Room just made me feel uncomfortable with the ease at which one man could exploit thousands of young girls.
Family and love
The film also gives her another subtle love interest in O. T. Fagbenle as the Agent. She friend-zoned him at the end of the movie, and it’s not central to the plot. But Marvel simply will not let Black Widow exist in a film without romantic tension. First, it was Iron Man, then Hawkeye, then Bruce Banner, and so on. It’s less about this subplot and more about Marvel’s need to make her have tension with someone else. She can’t exist on her own.
It’s also a little strange to give Black Widow a family-centric film when so much of her arc through the rest of the MCU is about her finding her family in the Avengers. Why give her a new one, when she already had one? She doesn’t need to learn to let people in or develop those relationships at this point in her arc; she already has.
A little too late
But the biggest thing that kept me from enjoying the film to its full potential is that it is several years too late. It’s ridiculous that it took this long to give Black Widow her own movie, especially since it’s post-mortem. In terms of her arc, Black Widow should have had her own movie after her first appearance in Iron Man 2. Really either directly before or directly after the first Avengers.
This film specifically should have come out directly after Civil War. It’s weird in terms of the timeline that it came this late. Natasha is dead. We as the audience know she’s dead. So it dramatically decreases the stakes. It doesn’t really matter if she makes amends with her Russian family; we know she won’t interact with them again. We know she’s not really in any real danger because she dies later. And it undercuts any character development because we’ve seen her after this and we won’t see that development in action.
Furthermore, the unfortunate events with COVID pushed this film back several months after its original release date. While that was out of everyone’s hands, it sort of deflated some of the anticipations for the film.
Black Widow is a good movie. It’s fun to watch, it has a good plot and fantastic performances. It’s going to be really exciting to see Florence Pugh’s future in the MCU, and it sets her up to face off against Hawkeye in the future. But it doesn’t stand out in the MCU, and it really does nothing to advance Black Widow as a character. At the end of the day, this movie is seven years too late.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 6/10
Thank you for reading our review of Marvel’s Black Widow. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out everything we know about Spider-Man: No Way Home HERE.
Read IMDB information about Black Widow HERE.
The Matrix Resurrections – Trailer
The first trailer for The Matrix Resurrections has arrived and there’s a lot to whet the appetite.
When we left Neo (Keanu Reeves) in The Matrix Revolutions the assumption was that he had died in his final battle with Agent Smith. But in allowing The Matrix to use his body as a conduit to attack the rogue Agent he was able to save Zion and establish a fragile peace between machines and humans.
The trailer suggests that Neo was plugged back into The Matrix after this moment and has been controlled until now with ‘the blue pill’. This is why he has become Mr Anderson again but is haunted by dreams of the past.
Shrink or Agent
A very calm and controlled Neil Patrick Harris is counselling Thomas Anderson about these dreams but it’s clear that there’s more to him than just trying to help.
On iMDB Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s character is unnamed. Yet the trailer suggests that he is a younger version of Morpheus and he helps Mr Anderson rediscover Neo.
The Laurence Fishburne incarnation of Morpheus grews impatient with the machines and demanded that they return the body of Neo in The Matrix Online game. It’s not clear if this will remain canon or not. After many unanswered public speeches threatening action, Morpheus starts terrorist attacks throughout the Matrix. These attacks take the form of weapons that reveal the Matrix’s inner workings (its code) for all human beings to see, even those not yet awakened to the simulation. This caused mass panic and forced awakenings to those not ready to see the truth.
During the game events on May 26, 2005 (as recorded on the game’s official website), Morpheus plants a code bomb in the Rumbaar water treatment facility. After planting the bomb, he realises he is being hunted by an assassin. Morpheus escapes the facility; however, upon his leaving, the Assassin bends the code of the Matrix and emerges from a vent in the wall. Morpheus is caught off-guard and is unable to dodge the Assassin’s bullets. He dies from gunshot wounds.
You can expect to see the return of Trinity as well as Neo. But many other characters appear to be changed or reincarnated. It seems to follow many footsteps of the original with the use of the White Rabbit. Then there’s a younger Morpheus, a possible younger Oracle and perhaps a new Architect.
Here’s the trailer to enjoy:
The Matrix Resurrections will be in cinemas from 22 December 2021.
Do you like The Matrix Resurrections trailer? Are you planning on seeing it when it’s released? What do you think it’ll be like? Let us know in the comments below.
Everything that we know so far about The Matrix Resurrections is HERE.
Read IMDB information about The Matrix Resurrections HERE.
- The Matrix Resurrections – Trailer September 9, 2021
- Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings – Review September 5, 2021
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- Spider-Man: No Way Home – Trailer August 25, 2021
- The Suicide Squad – Review August 21, 2021
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