Warning: Spoilers! Nilesh this week gives us his thoughts on MARVEL’s latest blockbuster, Black Widow. Released just last week, the movie is already a fan favourite.
17th July 2021
Fan favourite character Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson, finally got her highly anticipated and long-awaited standalone film. It only came 11 years after her introduction in “Iron Man 2”. The events of this film take place following “Captain America: Civil War” in 2016, in which the Avengers are disbanded via a disagreement over the Sokovia Accords. This is prior to her death in “Avengers: Endgame”. (Seriously, 2 years on, that cannot be classed as a spoiler).
A star-studded cast is assembled around Scarlett Johansson includes Florence Pugh (Yelena Belova), David Harbour (Alexei Shostakov), Rachel Weisz (Melina Vostokoff), and Ray Winstone (Dreykov).
The opening credits scene is by far my favourite scene of the movie. It captures the trauma that Natasha and Yelena had to endure in their Red Room training to become assassins for the main villain Dreykov. Polaroids depict the true cruelty of the child kidnapping and antagonises Dreykov from the get-go. Not only this but he is shown with numerous world leaders (e.g. Bill Clinton, Vladimir Putin). All this is accompanied by the main theme song for the film, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” originally by Nirvana but performed by Malia J. This perfectly sets the nostalgic and harrowing theme of the film.
Florence Pugh’s performance as Yelena was also a standout in this film. Her on-screen chemistry with both Scarlett Johansson and David Harbour led to some comedic moments to break the ice in an otherwise serious film. One moment, in particular, is distinctly memorable. This being an exchange with Natasha at a corner shop where Yelena mocks Natasha for having a “superhero pose”. This becomes a running gag throughout the film, in which its climax is when Yelena herself ends up doing a superhero pose. She immediately regrets her decision, shrugging it off in disgust.
And The Bad…
However, there are some major problems in this film. Primarily, the plot is very thin and uneventful. The movie took some time to reveal the true endgame (pardon the pun) of the plot. When it finally did it was the stereotypical superhero plot: hero seeks vengeance on a figure from their past for causing them pain in life. The fate of Black Widow is already known in “Avengers: Endgame”. Therefore, the writers did not have much room for creativity in the storytelling of this popular character. It felt, in a way, almost like a filler film. The MARVEL fans have demanded this solo Black Widow film for so long. But, now it is here it feels slightly underwhelming.
Moreover, certain characters are extremely underdeveloped. Dreykov, who is the main villain makes a brief cameo at the beginning of the film and then does not appear for the next 90 minutes. There is very little substance to his character and no clear origin story is given. Without a doubt, Dreykov is one of the worst villains to be written into existence by MARVEL Studios.
An Underwhelming Taskmaster
Taskmaster, who is a masked combatant that can mimic your every move, is severely underwhelming. No dialogue, no character, no evil. This is a character I found very difficult to antagonise as there is so little flavour to it (even when it is hunting down Natasha). The grand reveal of the identity of Taskmaster ends up being Dreykov’s daughter (who Natasha believes she had killed in an attempt to assassinate Dreykov). Natasha, throughout the film, had been struggling to come to terms with this killing. She gets her salvation in the end by freeing her from the villainous clutches of her father. She too had been manipulating similar to Natasha and Yelena and thousands of other Widows across the globe.
Is Black Widow A Filler Film?
MCU’s phase 4 has taken route on Disney’s new streaming service Disney+, with the introduction of new series such as Wandavision, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and Loki. This signals an evolution in the everchanging MARVEL Universe, following the end of the Avengers era. This film, however, is very much a blast from the past and takes a deeper look into the origins of the elusive Black Widow. In my view, this film fails to meet its hype and does a disservice to its extremely talented cast. As I have previously mentioned, this film feels like a filler and does not seem like a proper goodbye to the much-loved Black Widow and Scarlett Johansson from the MCU.
A Return For The Widow?
A silver lining, perhaps, is that indicated by the post-credits scene, Yelena will return in the upcoming “Hawkeye” series, which will debut on Disney+ in the not too distant future.
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