‘Black Widow’ Review: Good but not Great

After many delays because of the pandemic, Marvel finally returned to the big screen with the highly anticipated Black Widow. Was it worth the wait after a year of delay? 

The film is a decent movie, the action sequences were good, the storyline was intriguing, and the cast was outstanding, but where does it stand in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? The answer is that it’s an average Marvel film. Nothing spectacular, but nothing terrible either.

The story follows Natasha Romanoff after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Natasha reunites with her long-lost family, including her sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) and her parents; the Red Guardian (David Harbour), and Melina (Rachel Weisz).

Scarlett Johansson shines as bright as ever as the beloved heroine, she tackles Natasha Romanoff’s fear and complexity with another great performance. However, Pugh steals absolutely every scene she is in; her performance as Yelena was not only heartwarming but surprisingly funny as she can switch into different tones seamlessly.

The dinner table scene is perhaps the best scene in the film. The audience finally gets to see Natasha interacting with her family after 21 years. The family dynamic is one of the most intriguing themes in the film; however, the script didn’t allow much time for the family to reconcile and reconnect before throwing them back in the action.

Although the action sequences were standard, it was a little underwhelming considering what we’ve seen in other espionage thrillers such as Mission Impossible, Jason Bourne, Atomic Blonde, or DC’s well-choreographed Birds of Prey from last year.

The timing of the release may also be a reason why Black Widow can’t help but feel a little lackluster. Not only was it released after Avengers: Endgame (where we know Natasha died), but when the film was pushed back, Marvel released three TV series on Disney Plus. All three of them received critical praise and marked a new direction for Marvel.

WadndaVision was a deep exploration of grief while also paying homage to TV sitcoms, Falcon and The Winter Soldier discussed the importance of legacy and racial injustice in the country, and Loki is a series that is allowing the God of Mischief himself to find his humanity. All three of these series allowed the side characters to be fleshed out in a creative way, and each of them strongly stands on its own for its uniqueness, but perhaps it’s because these highly successful shows made Black Widow hard to stand out.

The film also didn’t answer too much of Natasha’s past. We get few glimpses and descriptions of the Budapest mission that has been referenced since the first Avengers, but the film never dives deeper into it. Taskmaster wasn’t posed as a great threat for the film either even though it was connected to Nat’s past. The movie sometimes struggles to balance the family storyline and the big action scenes with Taskmaster, in which both narratives suffer from being explored more.

Overall, Black Widow is a solid standalone film that will please fans of the character and a promising future for Pugh in the MCU, but the timing of release and the average script overshadows the darker tone and themes for the movie.

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