“Some things can’t be ignored. You can only conquer your past if you choose to face it.” – Linda Wisdom
I’m not sure why it took until phase 4 for the Black Widow character to get her own movie but I can say it was worth the wait. What little I know about the MARVEL characters (admittedly it’s not as much as some of my fellow Nerdlocker comrades) I’ve felt for a long time that her backstory was one of the more interesting of the bunch. It definitely felt like one of the more adult themed backstories with Cold War era influence, espionage, spy recruitment, political assassinations and so on. The title sequence of the movie even felt more spy centric than superhero origin. Needless to say with its exciting and mysterious opening and chaotic title sequence featuring a stirring cover of the Nirvana classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” a tone of excitement and intrigue is established from the get-go.
What I can say from an honest standpoint is that at times it felt like the demand for a Black Widow movie felt more like a cry for inclusion (which is a good thing) and not so much about the character being worthy of an origin story. Not that MARVEL has ever truly let me down, I must admit I was a bit concerned that maybe this would be a sort of “there we did it now leave us alone” kind of deal; a rush job if you will. Luckily they had the understanding that beyond just a need for inclusion they needed a great story for a character that has already brought so much substance and nuance to the MARVELverse. She’s earned her stripes and this movie is an ode to her efforts over the last decade or so.
Scarlett Johansson returns as the titular character on a collision course with her past, a time in her life she wishes would have left her alone long ago but rather has clung to her like a virus. She quickly begins to learn in hopes of navigating her complicated future she must close the book on her darkened history of murder and betrayal. But for a past riddled with horridness she knows the only reason she survived is those she met along the way and so to face it all once again she must find them again as well. Her Russian “family” is as muddled and intricate as she is so her hope in them may just be misguided. Still, in a world of double crosses and backstabbing amounting to nothing more than just another Tuesday at the office she really has no one else to trust. It’s the disgruntled family unit or nothing.
Johansson has this character honed in perfectly at this point. She is as energetic and human as ever kicking ass and saving the world one henchmen at a time. A new addition to the fold, and a welcome one at that, is the effervescent Florence Pugh as an equally capable spy as Natasha and is one of the only people on the planet to truly understand how Natasha became who she is. Together they combine in a wonderful chemistry of sisterly love and bickering trying to right the wrongs of their history despite the efforts of their complicated parental figures. David Harbour and Rachel Weisz are the kind of parents you could only hope for and hope you never have. Like I said, they’re complicated. They are funny together and just as badass together as their daughters have become. All four facing down the evils of their world is a lot of fun with humorous banter and superhero level day-saving.
I think one of my favorite elements of this particular origin story is knowing the future of that character and knowing it isn’t a happy ending. It adds a certain element of doom to the overall tone of the film. You know her efforts will end in tragedy and yet you still can’t help but root for her and hope she comes out of it okay. You find yourself repeatedly remembering what her fate is which adds a kind of Shakespearean twist to something that might otherwise be a typical superhero origin story.
Black Widow I fear will be maligned for many of the same reasons Captain Marvel was so unfairly judged but that’s fanboys for you. Best course with those idiots is to ignore and enjoy the damn movie if you so choose. I for one thoroughly enjoyed this newest installment of the MARVELvese. In a collection of movies filled to the brim with over-the-top, world altering, universe altering consequences it was nice to return to a more grounded story. Make no mistake, this is a superhero movie and it has its fair share of physics defying moments but the story of a tattered family coming together to right what mistakes they made in the past is as human as it gets. We all live with regret, this family just decided to do something about it. If I can take anything away from this movie it’s that the MARVELvese is as exciting as it has ever been. The future is bright in this world of superheroes, I assure you.
Rated PG-13 For: intense sequences of violence/action, some language and thematic material
Runtime: 133 minutes
After Credits Scene: Yes
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz
Directed By: Cate Shortland
Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 7.5/ Acting: 8.5/ Directing: 8/ Visuals: 9
OVERALL: 8.5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes. In theaters July 9, 2021.
Check out the trailer below:
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