Movie Review: Black Widow

Libby Maier, Critic

On July 9, Marvel made their return to the theaters with “Black Widow. Black Widow is the long-awaited solo movie for Natasha Romanaff— Played by Scarlett Johansson— one of the original six Avengers. The main controversy leading up to this movie was, is it needed? Or to be put into better terms, had Marvel waited too long to give Romanoff a movie that it no longer made sense in the overall storyline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) following the character’s death in Avengers Endgame?

The story is set in a very specific part of the MCU timeline, with it technically taking place before the end of Captain America: Civil War; and the breakout from The Raft (a high security prison) as a part of the aftermath of Civil War. Setting stories before the current day, the MCU can often lead to plot holes and leave fans with more questions than answers— “Black Widow” is no exception.

The main villain is set up to be Taskmaster – a maksed foe who is able to mirror the fighting styles of every person they encounter. But that is just another movie trailer misdirect in a way with the real “villain” being Dreykov and the Red Room; a Russian organization that trafficks young girls and turns them into assassins void of free will. 

For the horror and trauma that is Romanoff’s backstory, this movie felt very lighthearted at moments which seemed to play down the severity of what had been done to the victims of the Red Room. The character of Alexi, also known as the Red Guardian, played by David Harbour, felt misplaced in the story like an unneeded comedic relief. Like any Marvel movie there were jokes, but there was a greater understanding of the severity of the situation they were in for each character except Alexi. This could be seen as a purposeful character trait reflecting the reality that most men are unaware of the severity of women’s issues or it can just be forced comedy in a serious story. 

When adapting a comic book story to the big screen, some things are bound to change. Like how in the comics Red Guardian is Romanoffs husband and love interest but in the movie he is a surrogate father figure. But giving Romanoff a love interest in a movie with the main villain being a man who exploits and controls women would be a worse one. The lack of a romantic storyline for any of the female leads is a nice change from the classic MCU formula of superheroes falling in love while saving the world.

Black Widow was a great send off to one of the original six Avengers and finally gave her the movie that should have been in phase one of the MCU. The only fault in this movie is the pacing is very fast. Once the action starts, it doesn’t stop much until the movie is over— which can make the movie feel rushed in spots. While this movie is not the origin story fans were hoping for, it still tells the story of Black Widow— just not in the way anyone expected. It felt more like a movie of Romanoff passing the torch to her sister Yelena Belova— played by Florence Pugh— which is sweet, but wastes the potential that a true Black Widow origins movie could’ve had.