‘Black Widow’ Review: An Overdue, Yet Entertaining Origin Story

Black Widow Review

This Black Widow movie has been long, long overdue and not just because of the pandemic. For years, fans have pushed for a solo film diving into the backstory of Black Widow, and while it’s great that it finally got made, I just wish it had been made and released before Avengers: Endgame. The timing would have been such a better fit for this character in the overall MCU, and it would have had more of an impact on her character’s storyline in Endgame.

So what’s the story here? Black Widow marks the first film of Phase Four for the MCU. It tells the story of Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson) as she confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger. Joining Johansson in the film are Florence Pugh as Yelena, David Harbour as Alexei/The Red Guardian, and Rachel Weisz as Melina.

Black Widow Trailer

Black Widow Review: What I Liked and Didn’t Like

The first thing that I have to note is the opening sequence. There’s a rhythmic montage that plays to Malia J’s cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and it is palpable. Opening credits, when done right, can give you chills, and this is one of the best examples of that. The video clips in this sequence take us through an intense training regiment, revealing how young girls like Natasha and her sister get turned into these powerful sleeper agents and assassins. It’s a powerful opening that sets a high expectation for what’s to come in the next two hours.

So does the film live up to that initial high expectation? Meh. Not really. It’s not a bad film at all. In fact, the blend between action, humor, and family moments are all quite balanced. It’s entertaining. It just feels anticlimactic. Something is missing.

One thing Marvel does really well is backstory, and they do a decent job here with Natasha. Many Marvel fans will likely recall that Natasha’s backstory has been teased in multiple films. One of those times being the first Avenger’s film when Natasha says she has red in her ledger and she’d like to wipe it out. Loki replies, “Can you? Can you wipe out that much red? Drakov’s Daughter, San Paulo, the hospital fire?”

It’s always exciting when you can look back at earlier films, and they end up tying together so well. Marvel does a fantastic job with that – just like they did a great job here at diving into Black Widow’s origin story. I just have a difficult time with prequels in general. We already know the spoilers that are coming. We already know the ending of this story. Knowing that while watching this film resulted in my attention being shifted to Natasha’s sister, Yelena (Florence Pugh). Pugh feels like the real star of this film, and while I loved Pugh’s portrayal of Yelena, this wasn’t what I wanted for a Black Widow movie. Black Widow should have felt like a Scarlett Johansson movie, not a setup for Pugh to become the next Black Widow. It just doesn’t feel like it does Natasha the justice she deserves.

Overall Thoughts

At the end of the day, a Marvel film is a Marvel film. Almost in the way that you know that if it’s a Pixar movie – you know you’re probably going to cry, and it’s going to be fantastic. Over the years, Marvel has built up a similar reputation with me. I know that I’m always going to be entertained, and Black Widow was no exception.

However, there is something missing. While the film is an interesting mix between an espionage thriller and a superhero story, the focus is on family, and that part of the script didn’t feel like it went deep enough for me or stay focused on the right character.

Black Widow Review:

Grade: B

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Responses

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  1. Ok, well I will have to say I have not kept up to date with all the Marvel films and can honestly say I am not a huge fan, primarily because I have never been big into comic book characters. It is funny because I read and loved comics as a kid, but it just never carried over into adulthood. With that being said, I am actually looking forward to seeing this one film in particular in the franchise so we will see how it turns out (It might have to do with the fact that I love Scarlett Johansson). I loved your review, as you seem to have covered the bases, and particularly like your comment, ‘ At the end of the day, a Marvel film is a Marvel film.’ Very well done!

  2. I’m sure my weekend plans of getting caught up in the Black Widow’s 🕷Web on the big screen will be entertaining. However, I’m concerned that it will be too little, too late for Natasha Romanoff! Her stand-alone movie comes after her literal death and a decade later of MCU’s phase flicks.
    Get your popcorn ready 🍿
    Thank you FanBolt⚡️for the review.

  3. I just saw Black Widow yesterday! I loved it. I wished we would have gotten a Black Widow film earlier, but the sibling dynamics between Natasha and Yelena were so sweet and awesome. The two actresses have great on-screen screen chemistry.

  4. Just a follow up to my previous comments, now having seen the film. Overall, I really did enjoy it. I am like you, Emma, in that the opening credits with the music was amazing and set a great tone, which did continue during the first hour or so. Then it just kind of started a slow dive into playing on people’s emotions as far as family and Natasha and her ‘sister’ and ‘parents’ reuniting and trying to build their relationship again. I will say the film did have some great action scenes – and some ridiculous – as well as some pretty funny moments. Overall I would rate it a C+ as it started out great and just did not continue with the momentum.

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