Rendez-View Black Widow
Written By: Marcus Munoz
Our Final Goodbye
After months of anticipation, MARVEL’s Black Widow finally hit theatres and Disney+ on July 9th. To no one’s surprise, the initial success of the long-awaited standalone film was a sign of relief from moviegoers everywhere that things are getting back to normal. However, despite all this, the real question is: was it too late? Let’s take a look. (Spoilers ahead)
As per usual, Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of Black Widow is spot on – it's hard to believe Emily Blunt (although extremely talented) was poised as the alternative actress for the role. I think this movie gave the much-needed additional visibility Black Widow needed as a character in the MCU. Being the only MCU main character without a solo film for so long felt cheap, so I’m happy they gave her that spot – albeit maybe a little too late? The story picks up right after Civil War and attempts to connect the dots between Natasha's old allies and adversaries. Again, the performance was great, however, lacking in any real-world building by the end.
Without a question, Florence Pugh aka Yelena Belova is easily the best character and best part of this film. Her energy, humor, and overall presence feels fresh and exciting in a storyline that often feels repetitive and played out. Truthfully, we all knew what was going to happen with this character and the plans for our new Black Widow in the greater MCU. Despite all that, I was still excited about her performance from beginning to end. Not much else to say other than bring on BLACK WIDOW 2!
Red Guardian & Melina
I might be a little bias for this as Rachel Weisz and David Harbour are amongst some of my favorite actors in Hollywood, but I thoroughly enjoyed the banter between these two. Harbour’s Red Guardian is the comedic relief as he constantly reminisces about the “good old days” - which nobody particularly cares about (cries). Melina is a stoic hardass with a tender heart for her adoptive kids – which balances well with Harbour's overly joyous character persona. Overall, this film had great casting, and I hope to see them back in another MCU project.
Originally Tony Masters in the comics, Antonia AKA Taskmaster is the sub-boss villain in the movie. Taskmaster does a great job of keeping everyone on their toes and constantly feels like a genuine threat to our main cast members. Even though I could see this character reveal a mile away, I still appreciated the nod back to Natasha’s infamous “Budapest mission” she always talks about. Spoiler: Antonia was a “casualty” in that mission. I felt the portrayal of Taskmaster, although slightly altered, was done right and gave a fresh take on the character itself. Do I think Taskmaster was a REAL threat? No, but that didn’t matter because their action scenes were A+.
Highs & Lows
If anything, this movie gave me a good laugh (in a good way). Harbour and Pugh are quite literally comedy gold - with Harbours “old-timer” banter, and Pugh’s consistent sarcastic remarkets – I never felt like they missed a beat. That’s one thing MARVEL does right every time: comedy. Who writes your jokes?! I must know.
I mentioned Black Widow not having much effect on the MCU moving forward, which I believe to be true, however, the key here is that this movie plays as a perfect introduction to our NEW Black Widow – Yelena Belova. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait till Black Widow 2 to see Florence Pugh grace our screens once more.
Sadly, due to the timing of production and release, Black Widow falls short of creating any real-world consequences or “stakes” in the greater MCU. At this point, we know Black Widow doesn’t make it out of Endgame, so for her to fight against the villains here feels a bit lackluster. I absolutely believe this movie was necessary and fair to the character, however, it didn’t provide much world-building or gain to the trajectory of Phase 4 MCU – aside from Yelena (but we’ll talk about her later).
One Story Ends, Another Begins
I’ll be honest in saying that I definitely enjoyed this movie for what it was. Was it my favorite MCU film? No, that space is reserved for Black Panther. But what I do think is that this movie was necessary. It took all of MARVEL Phase 3 and a panoramic to see it, but I think it was worth the wait. The human element of this story is done really well - capturing the relationships between the main characters seamlessly as if they were established in previous films. It also gives fans enough easter eggs to keep viewers invested (like MCU Thunderbolts reference) and, of course, the end-credit scene. The reveal of Madame Hydra (or Val) meeting Yelena at Natasha’s grave was unexpected, to say the least, but it does excite me for what they have planned – tying in Hydra with Yelena. Also, the reference to Hawkeye?! Please tell us Yelena will appear in the Disney+ show, otherwise, I’ll be sad, and do you want me to be sad MARVEL?! If you’re a fan of Black Widow and Scarlett Johansson, I definitely think this is worth a watch – a more or less perfect send-off for our favorite superspy hero.