BLACK WIDOW MOVIE REVIEW supposed to come out in May 2020 before it was delayed to July 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Black Widow is a 2021 American superhero film based on Marvel Comics featuring the character of the same name. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
But now that theaters are beginning to return to normal, it’s the first MCU movie to hit theaters since Spider-Man: Far From Home in June 2019, which is the longest gap between releases in the history of the MCU.
The box office isn’t quite back to pre-pandemic levels just yet, so it’s hard to compare to other MCU releases, but its Rotten Tomatoes score is certainly a return to form for what people have come to expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
BLACK WIDOW MOVIE REVIEW
Let’s make this clear right from the start: Black Widow certainly owes its apparent success (not to mention its very existence) to director Cate Shortland, writers Eric Pearson, Jac Schaeffer, and Ned Benson, and their armies of cast and crew.
But most importantly, and this might be terribly controversial to say, it comes down to the Marvel Cinematic Universe at large.
Thanks to the careful bricklaying spearheaded by Kevin Feige over the last decade-plus, this patient approach built the MCU into the powerhouse.
As proven by a similarly family-oriented saga that has only gained more and more steam over time, the key to its popularity is actually pretty simple.
The MCU’s secret sauce lies in the fact that audiences — stick with me here — enjoy spending time with characters they like. Natasha Romanoff, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson since 2010 and appearing in eight different MCU films until the character’s death in Avengers: Endgame, certainly fits the bill.
But watching Black Widow, struck by a startling realization pretty early on: for all its MCU connections and references and callbacks (and there are a lot of them)… the only scenes I was ever really connecting with were the ones that forcefully relegated the MCU in the background and instead focused on the story at hand.
The uneven movie left with serves as the metatextual extension of Natasha’s own emotional tug-of-war between the Avengers and her Russian “family.” Like the conflicted super-spy caught between disparate allegiances,
Black Widow is a superhero movie at war with itself.
Let me ask you, dear reader: When you first heard Loki menacingly allude to “the hospital fire” or “Dreykov’s daughter” to Natasha way back in 2012’s The Avengers, were you consumed with the need to witness these events depicted in live action someday with excruciating detail? Or did you accept throwaway lines like those or Clint and Natasha’s “Just like Budapest all over again” reference as trivial details meant to flesh out their past history and add layers of world-building that extends beyond what we ever see on-screen? Well, Black Widow certainly assumes the former.
In its pursuit to service the shared universe aspects of it all, Black Widow does itself no favors by falling victim to as bad a case of “prequelitis” as I’ve seen since Solo: A Star War Story decided to run through a checklist of Han Solo origin stories for no real reason at all.
With that in mind, wouldn’t a more lower-stakes journey have been the way to go here? Maybe Black Widow’s instincts were right all along in eschewing the overarching Marvel brand in favor of a more boots-on-the-ground perspective…but too bad it never commits to that or fully sheds the heavy burden of shared universe connections.
Loyal fans may consider this to be a perfectly serviceable, sometimes inspired superhero movie. But when it comes to giving Natasha Romanoff her due and sending her off into the sunset, her journey crushes under the weight of the real star of the show: the MCU.