Movie Review: ‘Black Widow’ is the MCU’s Bastard

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. Via Disney.

Black Widow is the latest but belated addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In this entry, Russian spy, Natasha Romanoff, must deal with her past and all the things and people she thought dead while on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D. The film’s belatedness is confirmed in its time frame within the MCU; it takes place just after Captain America: Civil War, although, Black Widow’s installment into the Marvel canon adds little to the MCU.

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Upon its announcement, one would expect an origin movie that’d add poignancy to the widow’s death in Avengers: Infinity War, but it lands trite throughout. It does nothing but lead us through a two-hour drool-fest of action and explosions, from one exotic location—a very Marvel Cinematic Universe attribute that’s worked decently in previous entries—to another languid exotic location. Yet for all its explosions, the movie lacks any sensible vigor. As I write this, I can barely remember a single action sequence from the movie, nor a single memorable line. It came and went unnoticed, like a ghost. It was a movie to be endured because we knew exactly what we would be presented with and we weren’t disappointed. 

The new Black Widow movie is a Frankenstein of spy movies with nothing at stake. The exotic locations are from obviously from the Bond series and even the villain’s furtiveness; the mask switch move that Black Widow pulls is a trick we have frequently seen Ethan Hunt from Mission Impossible pull; and although Black Widow is an old Marvel character, one can’t help but think that the recent thriller, Red Sparrow, which stars Jennifer Lawrence does a better job at capturing the essence of the infamous Red room than Black Widow does. What then is this movie’s claim to originality beyond being the latest Marvel movie? If the aura of being a Marvel movie is removed, what is left? A mediocre story that can barely stand without antecedents.

A superhero origin story is a very important entry. It is why it usually comes first before the superhero is thrown into any real movie. Who is Peter Parker without Uncle Ben’s death? The sequence for Black Widow is already unsynchronized, so this attempt at an origin story is pointless. One suspects that Marvel would have done a more sensible job if they’d merely shipped her off on a Disney+ series. That seems to be the hot superhero thing now. This movie, this origin story, lacks soul. What makes the Black Widow a black widow? What makes this particular one worthy of the mantle if there are so many others like her, with her exact skillset, with probably a better heart. Even her sister Yolanda appears to have more chutzpah and character than Natasha has shown since her first appearance in Iron Man. The movie proves what we have suspected for a while now, the MCU’s Natasha Romanoff adds nothing to the cinematic franchise than to bring in Clint Barton and make the big green guy shrink down to Banner. Oh, and to be a second sacrificial lamb for an infinity stone. The long list of female superheroes as limbic subordinates to their male counterparts has been increased by a widow and it is plainly due to incompetent writing. 

Black Widow tries to fill in the gaps in Natasha Romanoff’s story. Via Disney.

The problems are just numerous. The science is wobbly and unrealistic—a general problem of the espionage genre—shoddily theorized and executed in the same vein. You can’t attack the villain if you smell him, then kill him from a distance, snipe him, explode him; the options are limitless but the movie is uninterested in exploring them. At some point, it seemed as if the movie forgot Natasha is human because no normal human would survive the amount of accidents she survived in this film. And there appears to be no growth whatsoever for this character; she comes into this movie and leaves through the same door. What is the purpose of this journey beyond the physical reincarnation of the watered down Russian red room? What is the point of this movie if not another theatrical cash grab? Another mindless addition to the plenitude of superheroes.

Rating: 5/10

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Side Musings

  • The CGI is terrible for a Marvel film. 
  • Such unrealistic stunts. First off, Black Widow hurtling down from the sky at that height would first asphyxiate her and her tumble to the ground would simply shatter all her bones. We are not in a Wonder Woman movie please. 
  • Scarlett Johansson just said, “guys let’s just do finish this one. I am not kuku doing another Avenger with you people again.”

Black Widow is currently in theatres and streaming on Disney+ with Premium Access.

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