For the first time in over two years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe returned to the big screen for Black Widow, a film that takes place during and after the events of Captain America: Civil War.
I had low expectations for this film as the events of Black Widow took place before Natasha Romanoff died during Avengers: Endgame. I was hoping that this movie would do something special to leave an impact, but alas, it did not. While it was nice to see an MCU film in theaters once again, the film was a generic spy-action movie with several standout performances that made the movie a decent watch.
As previously stated, the events of Black Widow take place after Captain America: Civil War, where Romanoff helped Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes escape during the battle at Leipzig/Halle Airport in Germany. Romanoff is on the run after she, and the rest of team Captain America, violated the Sokovia Accords.
Black Widow picks up with Natasha’s sister, Yelena Belova, who was trained as a Black Widow like Natasha, sending Romanoff gas that eliminates chemical mind-control agents. However, an unknown mercenary known as Taskmaster tracked down Romanoff in hiding, forcing her to find her sister and confront their dark past that has caught up with them in the present.
The acting provided most of the movie’s highlights with two standout performances from David Harbour (Red Guardian) and Florence Pugh (Belova).
Anyone who has watched Stranger Things knows Harbour brings a lot of power, charisma and sincerity to the characters he portrays. In Black Widow, this holds true as he brings a lot of humanity to the Red Guardian as we see him in a father-type role with Romanoff and Belova. Harbour is entertaining as a super soldier, displaying the over-the-top, but fun moments, as a superhero.
As great as Harbour is in the film, Pugh steals the show as Belova. Portraying Romanoff’s sister, Pugh carries the emotional weight of the movie on her shoulders. Belova shoulders confliction and stress as she feels confused about her past while working through her differences with Romanoff.
Once Belova loosens up with Romanoff more, we see a fun and sarcastic side to her, providing the film’s most wholesome and comedic moments. I really hope that we see Pugh as Belova more in future MCU projects because she was the best aspect of the film.
This was Scarlett Johansson’s first time as the lead character in the MCU after countless appearances in other projects. The reason it took this long to get a solo movie for Romanoff was because it stated in Johannsson’s contract that she was not allowed to be the lead in a MCU film, something that changed once her contract lapsed and after Kevin Feige took control of Marvel Studios in 2016.
With this film taking so long to be made, the stakes were lessened as we already knew Romanoff had died during Avengers: Endgame. This film doesn’t really add anything new or impactful to the MCU aside from the post-credits scene that I will not spoil.
As far as Johannsson’s acting in the movie, she is disappointingly bland as the protagonist and her emotional beats fall short. She comes across as uncaring and unemotional, which goes against her established character in the MCU. Nearly every scene with her talking to another character feels rushed and heartless, making me care even less about what happens in the film.
One could chalk it up to Romanoff being on the run and not having time to fully be emotional. However, in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Romanoff is on the run with Steve Rogers, yet their conversations are fantastic and feel authentic. Thus, the direction and acting of Johansson failed to produce these moments to invest me in the film.
As for the action and visuals, it is passable. The action is exactly what you would expect in the MCU with some shaky camera work, while decently showing off the abilities and styles of each character. The standout scene is a prison break in the Russian mountains that saw our characters fighting off a mob and avalanche to achieve their objective. It provided a lot of tension and looked incredible on the big screen.
For the most part, most action scenes were passable with a score, composed by Lorne Balfe, that did little to add to the sequences.
Cate Shortland’s direction made the film watchable during its intense moments and I found some enjoyment in them despite not feeling emotionally invested in the film. Those expecting to see an awesome villain in Taskmaster will sorely be disappointed as the character is forgettable and nothing special.
Overall, Black Widow is a forgettable film in the vast catalogue of MCU projects. Unless you are a die-hard fan of Romanoff, the film will not leave a strong impact for most viewers. Pugh, Harbour and some decent action scenes made the film watchable and enjoyable, but overall, it is not something everyone needs to go and check it out. The film is out everywhere in theaters and is streaming on Disney+ with premium access, but we at the Rich Report would recommend watching Loki instead.