Black Widow Review: She’s Got Meh on Her Ledger

Black Widow

Natasha Romanoff has been a staple of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since Iron Man 2 in 2010. As the first lady of Marvel Studios, Black Widow has been a constant supporting character that never got a chance to shine in her own solo film. Eleven years and a surprising cinematic death later, Black Widow is finally getting her own solo movie. Black Widow follows Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) after the events of Captain America: Civil War as what she thought was dead and gone has re-emerged from the shadows. Natasha must now face her past head-on in an attempt to exorcise her demons for good.

Unlike the past appearances, Black Widow wants its massive audience to invest in Natasha Romanoff, not just as an Avengers team player but also as a human being with real feelings. Yes, she goes through the usual exciting action set pieces with a forgettable usage of spy tropes. In between the mayhem, though, there are quieter moments where they showcase a different side of Natasha.

It’s no surprise that Black Widow is Marvel’s rendition of a James Bond film. It’s just unfortunate that after all this time waiting for the film, Black Widow rarely comes close to replicating the consistent thrills and excitement of past Marvel films. Sure, it’s full of superior stuntwork and action. However, the script by Eric Pearson (Godzilla vs. Kong) tends to bog the film down with the kind of unnecessary exposition that you find in Fleming’s 007 series. The race to eliminate the Black Widow Ops Program doesn’t prove as compelling as it should. Nevertheless, if you can get past the complex network of stories, director Cate Shortland’s (Berlin Syndrome) film is as fast and furious as a Michael Bay directorial effort.

Unfortunately, the hard-hitting action is held back by its cookie-cutter script. Shortland stages action scenes with enthusiasm. However, the gritty and aggressive set pieces were wasted thanks to some uneven CG. In other words, even the most inventive sequences are held up by the playground physics of the CG. The action looks gorgeous, though. Shortland and cinematographer Gabriel Beristain make the whole movie look marvelous. There’s no doubt that Shortland can set up great fights and car chases. Yet the script doesn’t give us much reason to care about any of it since the villains in the film are some of Marvel’s absolute worst.

Black Widow isn’t the best or worst film that Marvel Studios has ever made. It’s simply a middle-tier Marvel film that’s just okay.

As strange as it seems, Widow introduces its villains, only to sideline them for a great deal of the film. Not to mention, neither of them don’t do much in alleviating their negligible impact in the film. This is especially true of Ray Winstone’s dismally bland turn as the Widow‘s antagonist, Dreykov. The problem stems from his wooden performance and the constant disappearance of his Russian accent. Of course, the film doesn’t help him out either. Widow builds him up as this notable villain, but his eventual appearance is lackluster at best.

At the same time, Taskmaster (actor’s name withheld for spoiler’s sake) doesn’t make much of an impression as the film’s “Darth Vader.” A complete and utter shame since the different iterations of the character has so much life and personality. Yet Widow‘s silent version of the character is very disappointing to see. Taskmaster deserved much more than this. There’s little doubt, then, that Black Widow doesn’t benefit substantially from an action-heavy third act that’s full of over-the-top mayhem.

Be that as it may, the film is not all that bad. With Florence Pugh, David Harbour, and Rachel Weisz in the mix, there is palpable chemistry between them compounded by the fact that Natasha’s past attachments are now stemming into something more personal. In a way, it reminds audiences that Natasha had a family before the Avengers. Given the traumatic events of her life, we finally see the emotional effects that her challenging life had on her. Not to mention the importance of giving up a normal life to become an Avenger.

Overall, Black Widow is neither the best nor the worst MCU to date. It’s a middle-tier Marvel film in the same vein as Age of Ultron or Iron Man 3. If the film was the first release of Phase 4, it might’ve fared better. However, when you compare it to the excellent Disney+ shows out right now, such as WandaVision and LokiBlack Widow is not as interesting. That there is why Black Widow is a bit disappointing.

Rating: 3/5 atoms

Black Widow hits theaters and on Disney+ Premium Access on July 9th.

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