Marvel Studios’ Black Widow finally is in theaters (and Disney+), after a long and difficult journey. The first film in Disney’s Phase Four slate, Black Widow, is finally available for everyone to see after many delays. Natasha Romanoff was always a supporting, but important, a player in the Avengers films and Captain America films. Now, she has a film that is entirely dedicated to her story. It is a touching film that transcends most of the story tropes and cliches expected from Marvel Studios.
It’s both strange and refreshing to go back in time with the MCU, despite the fact that there are many Disney+ series. We have our first theatrical release after two years. It’s a prequel to Infinity War, and we’ve already found new characters and corners in shows like Falcon and WandaVision. Black Widow has no pressure to answer fans’ questions about “what’s the next?” due to its position on the timeline. It serves a purpose that is different from other MCU projects.
Black Widow is careful to follow the film’s formula. Cate Shortland still manages to make an impact on the MCU through her sharp directing skills and her character work. Shortland’s script by Eric Pearson gives the film an original and distinct feel in its first act. The films are set up with a certain amount of emotion and intensity. This is a testament to Shortland’s remarkable grasp of character. This section demonstrates the authenticity of Black Widow.
The film shows glimpses of authenticity from that point onward, even though it reverts to MCU tropes quite often. This is due in large part to Cate Shortland, who sits in the director’s seat. This movie is not another cliche blockbuster because her vision is clear enough throughout.
The cast is another saving grace in the film. Scarlett Johansson clearly knows her character at this stage in her career. She is also able to bring her charismatic, cunning perspective on super-spydom to the table. Her new role of driving the support cast and taking the spotlight is an exciting one. Scarlett does a wonderful job in this role. This is the Black Widow that you have come to know over the past ten year. Scarlett’s performance is the best. This role has made Scarlett feel more confident and relaxed than ever before, which is a great thing for the film.
Rachel Weisz and David Harbour bring a certain charm to the film and help viewers buy into the “dysfunctional family” angle that the film is trying to sell. Red Guardian, Harbour is the most entertaining character in the film. He brings passion to the role and is a wonderful addition to the MCU. To balance it out, Weisz is more serious, stoic and boring. It’s possible that Alexei or Melina represent different sides of Natasha’s personality. This is an interesting aside, but it’s something we’ll discuss another day.
The film’s highlight is then. Florence Pugh plays Yelena Belova (Natasha’s younger sister and Widow). Pugh’s character, as well as Natasha herself is the emotional heart of this film, is just as impressive as Pugh’s performance. The most fascinating aspect of her character is also the one that Pugh portrays. The emotional core of the film is Natasha’s emotional struggles. They drive Natasha to her character arc’s tipping point at the end. Many of the emotional beats are dependent on Johannsson’s chemistry and Pugh. It works well. Yelena, a new addition to MCU, has a bright future.
Gabriel Beristain’s cinematography is warm and intimate, which pairs well with the film’s focus on family. It was easier to convey emotions and carry some weight in dramatic scenes by focusing more on facial expressions and body language. Lorne Balfe provides an unforgettable score to the film with his epic vocals that go well with the spy-fi beats/orchestra.
The first act of Black Widow was full of intimacy and authenticity. However, the second and threerd acts are filled with typical MCU fare. Despite this, Shortland’s grasp of characters is still strong, as I mentioned in the review. Ray Winstone plays the antagonist of the Red Room, Ray Winstone plays their leader. His motivations, and his development are just as cliché as they come. But it is his emotional connection with Natasha that elevates him to the level of a Marvel villain. Taskmaster is a more dangerous physical threat than any other. A real emotional connection is impossible to make in the film’s runtime.
Black Widow’s conclusion is satisfying and rushed, but overall it wraps up well. This is one of those rare and perhaps first MCU films where we know the end of a story. The conclusion was also always going to feel off. Shortland, Co., do the best they can. It’s enough.
Black Widow is a great entry in the MCU. It’s filled with amazing action and some intimate character work. The performance of Florence Pugh as Yelena is the most notable. She stole the show, I have to reiterate. Black Widow is more authentic than some of the MCU’s lesser outings. Cate Shortland can execute her vision. It’s an enjoyable time at the movies. Black Widow has finally told her story. It’s rich in grit, family and spy action and is much more complex than you might expect. –
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