After a few date changes due to the pandemic, Marvel’s Black Widow has finally been released, and functions as both an origin story and an exciting look at the strength of the character without her fellow Avengers.
The movie starts shortly after the events of Captain America: Civil War, with U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) hunting down Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) as a traitor for helping Captain America free Bucky Barnes.
She manages to make it to a safe house in Norway before her past catches up to her in the form of a package from her sister Yelena (Florence Pugh).
The movie then jumps back in time to 1995, when Natasha and Yelena were kids living in Ohio. Unbeknowst to the kids, dad Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour) and mom Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) are actually Russian undercover agents and the family is forced to flee back to Russia.
Once back in the Motherland, both girls are taken by their parents’ boss Dreykov (Ray Winstone), who has them put through the Red Room for training, some of which was hinted at in Avengers: Age of Ultron. He also has Alexei, who is actually the Red Guardian (a super-soldier like Captain America and Bucky), put in prison.
The movie jumps back to the aftermath of Norway, which sees Natasha heading to rendezvous with Yelena in Budapest after the latter has been dosed with a gas that released her from the Red Room mind control.
Meeting up, the two decide to unite to take down Dreykov, whom Natasha thought was already dead. They team up with Alexei and he directs them to Melina for the current location of Dreykov and the Red Room, setting up the final showdown of the movie.
It’s been 11 years since we first met Natasha on screen in Iron Man 2, and I hate that it took so long for her solo movie to hit the screens, but it is a very fun and solid film.
The majority of the picture actually feels more like a Bourne-meets-Bond type of adventure, with an equal amount of witty dialogue and action sequences. With no superpowers other than their elite assassin training and a few gadgets, Natasha and Yelena fight their way through seemingly impossible circumstances, all the while bickering like the long-lost sisters they are.
The last third of the movie shifts into more familiar Marvel territory with huge special effects, explosions, and incredible stunts. Natasha proves once again she is a total badass, utilizing ploys and technology first seen in The Avengers and Captain America: Winter Soldier.
The actors all play well off each other, with Harbour providing a lot of comic relief in playing his character so seriously. I wouldn’t mind seeing a Red Guardian film or show in the future from Marvel.
I also enjoyed Pugh, as she provided a much welcome foil as the younger, sometimes brash, sister. Her whole conversation about the vest with pockets was so relatable (and I noticed it’s similar to the vest Natasha wears in Avengers: Infinity War). I look forward to seeing more of her in the Marvel Universe.
I have to note they did a great job in casting the younger versions of Natasha and Yelena, too. Those actresses (Ever Anderson and Violet McGraw) really looked like their older counterparts.
While this is a Marvel movie, it’s a different type of story than we’ve seen to date. It’s action-packed and exciting, but also funny and light-hearted when it needed to be. Director Cate Shortland balances all of the different elements of the film well, and gives us a great stand-alone character film.
I’m giving Black Widow a 4 out of 5 stars. It’s in theaters, and also available for an extra fee on Disney+. It also has one end credits scene.
Black Widow (2021)
Director: Cate Shortland
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, O-T Fagbenle, Olga Kurylenko, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, Ever Anderson, Violet McGraw
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