Black Widow, the stand-alone movie for the first female Avenger, has a story that surely clears the mist around that character. Natasha Romanoff’s past and the backdrop are something that was least explored during the first major phase of the MCU. And we do get a fair enough idea about what has happened with that character. But the script somewhere feels like a lazy effort to develop a superhero flick. It is an okay film, but when you look at the kind of fan following the character has got, you would have loved to see a movie that was not much of a template.
The story is set in the pre infinity war setting where Natasha Romanoff is hiding for the violation of the Sokovian Accords. In the meantime, she receives a package from her sister Yelena Belova, which is connected with the whole Black Widow thing. Natasha gets to know the fact that Dreykov, who was the mastermind behind the creation of Black Widows, is still alive, and there are so many Black Widows out there who need to be saved. Romanoff and Belova’s efforts to find Dreykov and destroy the Red Room are what we witness in Black Widow.
When you look at the story, the pattern is very simplistic, and it is really tough to get surprised by seeing an unprecedented move. The kind of lack of layers you feel in the Ant-Man movies is happening here as well. But Romanoff is Marvel’s representation of an empowered woman who created a space for herself and survived a lot of trauma. So the writing here is trying to give some undercurrents of the modern-day political scenario. It’s not in an in-your-face way, and for that reason, I liked that aspect of the story. Even though it is your fancy fantasy story, you are getting to see a woman taking her revenge on someone who looks at women as easy targets and prefers to manipulate and control them.
An iconic character’s stand-alone movie having this agenda of gender equality and gender rights is a great thing. But the lack of refreshing fiction around that makes even the movie’s subtle politics look very evident. Cate Shortland is trying her best to keep it less of a women-centric film and more of a Marvel movie that seamlessly infuses gender politics. But the writing is too obsessed with the possibilities with the gender, and thus the conflicts and drama happening in the movie don’t have any unique feel to its credit. When I look back at the film, I feel that the central conflict part is very weak in the case of Black Widow. The Romanoff we have seen in MCU felt like a character who had gone through a lot of torture and guilt, but those backstories don’t get that intense feeling when it comes to this movie.
Scarlet Johansson, in her last outing as the iconic Black Widow, delivers a fine performance. Unlike other movies in the MCU, which give her character tiny space (barring Winter Soldier), there is space here to focus on her performance, and she uses that effectively. The most memorable one, though, was Florence Pugh as her sister Yelena. The character’s attitude offers the movie to have a relaxed tone, and Pugh makes sure that the attitude comes across as natural. With her character having a future in the MCU, I hope she will carry the legacy with the same kind of grace. As Alexie, David Harbour portrayed the disheartened super soldier neatly, and there isn’t much there for someone like Rachel Weisz to perform as Melina. Ray Winstone was able to add some believability to the ruthless Dreykov.
Black Widow is a passable MCU movie for sure. But a sense of laziness is felt in the way the movie is written. Maybe the fact that the events in this movie are largely inconsequential to the whole timeline of things made them invest less in being imaginative in the writing department. It is that standard package of superhero movies with some additional emphasis on the gender part.
It is an okay film, but when you look at the kind of fan following the character has got, you would have loved to see a movie that was not much of a template.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended