Released: 8th July
Seen: 10th July
It’s been over a year since we, as a society, have made the trek to throw money to the almighty House of Mouse as our offering to the rodent entertainment god to provide us another adventure led by superpowered human beings who can do impossible feats. Sure, we’ve had TV offerings like Wandavision and Loki but that cinematic experience has been lacking the last Spider-Man movie (though god, imagine if this pandemic had hit before Endgame and we all had to spend an extra year in a world where half the Marvel superheroes were dead… fanboys would’ve been dropping like flies!).
Anyway, with things finally opening up again, the lord high Mickey decided that they could finally start releasing films they actually would like to turn a serious profit on, starting with Black Widow. Yes, the long anticipated solo movie for the first woman of the MCU has been on the cards for a while and was meant to come out in May of 2020 but then the pandemic hit and it all went to hell. After a bunch of delays it finally came out this week, I was actually meant to go to an advance screening on the 7th, would’ve made me one of the first people in the world to see Black Widow and I was so hyped to see it.
…and then my home state decided it was time for a major Covid outbreak, specifically of the Delta variant that was moving so fast that we had to go into lockdown meaning I not only didn’t get to go to that screening but if I want a chance in hell of seeing this movie before every single detail is meme’d into the ground, I was going to have to pay for that goddamn Disney Premium service. I swear I wouldn’t do this for any other movie, I very notably didn’t do it for Mulan and, in case I’m still in lockdown at the end of this month, I’m not gonna do it for Jungle Cruise either. Black Widow is a special case and thus gets special treatment… and I’m glad I did because god I needed a shot of old school Marvel action fun (I also need a shot of Pfizer, please hook us under 40 NSW boys up with some Pfizer because I would very much like to be full of special don’t die from covid juice now!)
Black Widow is set just after the events of US Civil War, with Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) on the run and trying to keep herself safe. While in hiding she is sent a mysterious set of vials containing a red dust that, it turns out, has the ability to erase the mind control that the infamous Red Room did to people like Natasha.
Seeing as she needs to keep moving to avoid being arrested for all that law breaking she did, Natasha goes to Budapest where she meets up with her surrogate sister Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) who tells her that not only is the Red Room still running but there’s a whole bunch of widows who want to kill them both. So the two of them have to team up, along with their surrogate parents Alexi (David Harbour) and Melina (Rachel Weisz), to take down the Red Room and free all the widows from the mind control that’s turned them into mindless assassins… all this while dealing with another big villain known as Taskmaster, but that’d be a little more spoilery than I’d like to get into here.
As is the case with pretty much every Marvel property, Black Widow is a really good film. I don’t know how they have somehow avoided making something truly awful when their competitors can barely go a year without making some abomination of a film, but once again we have a tight well paced action-spy thriller with fun characters and great action sequences that are clearly done by a group of stunt people who love their job cos they get to do a lot of cool fun things. Did you expect anything less from Marvel at this point? This is what they do, they do genuinely good action films that are hard to dislike.
Now, Black Widow does definitely feel a lot more like it should’ve been released in a pre-Endgame era of Marvel. It’s not a shock to learn that this movie went through development hell just to be made and the fact we’re seeing it in a time where we know the ultimate end for the main character does change how the film works. It also doesn’t help that this film came out after things like Wandavision showed just how weird this franchise can get, and here comes Black Widow delivering the standard action spy thriller that we saw Marvel do before with the second Captain America movie.
Not to say it’s bad, it’s fantastic and fun, but Black Widow feels like it should’ve been made earlier in the run of the MCU. However, the upside to waiting until now to make it means that Florence Pugh is able to be in it and she practically steals the film. Every time she’s on screen she’s stealing it, and she often shares it with Scarlett Johansson so that should tell you how great she is. The entire main cast is on point, but Florence is on some other level and judging by the end credits scene we’re going to be seeing her for a long, long time.
Then there are the action scenes, the things that Marvel just pours money into to make look great… yeah, they poured money into this and made all the action look amazing. From the car chase scene that feels less like a car chase and more like Jaws is trying to catch a pair of swimmers and chomping everything on his way, to every sequence in the Red Room where there’s just a mess of Widows kicking ass (Looking forward to that Widow costume being a Halloween favourite, and looking forward to witnessing a real live gaggle of women dressed like that kicking creepy men in the face at 2am), shocker of shocks every action scene is great.
Sure Black Widow still feels like it should’ve been a Phase 3 film, but it’s still an enjoyable time. A lot of promise built up for a bunch of new fun characters that I hope will be regulars in the MCU (seriously anyone else wanna see Alexei AKA Red Guardian coming up against the new Captain America? Tell me that won’t be a fascinating battle) and we finally got a big chunk of the history of one of the MCU’s most beloved characters. Glad we’re all able to have this communal experience again… I look forward to going back to heading complaints about how there are only Superhero movies coming out despite there only ever being about 4 a year at most.
Anyway, go see Black Widow… again (I’m just assuming you ran to see it already, it’s been over a year, we’ve earned this!)