Rob Reviews "Black Widow"
I have to admit: it was REALLY good to see the Marvel Studios logo on a movie screen again. After the well-documented time away from theaters combined with the amount of Disney+ content we have had access to, I had forgotten what it is like to see it in all of its majesty on that big screen with that deafening level of sound that we all love so.
The odd thing here is that “Black Widow” is being seen as the first film in Phase IV or the Marvel Cinematic Universe as far as time goes, but it actually takes place just after “Captain America: Civil War”. This film is part origin story, part revenge tale, part message about family, and all blowin’ stuff up. (Not that this is a bad thing.) Scarlett Johansson gives one more go of it as Natasha Romanoff, who was part of a secret Russian operation that trains young girls (not necessarily by choice) to be their top assassins around the world. After her “family’s” cover is blown in the mid-‘90s, they go on the run back to the Soviet Union with her “father” (David Harbour) wanting to return to his former glory, her “mother” (Rachel Weisz) wanting to get back to her normal job, and the two “sisters” just trying to make sense of it all.
Fast forward twenty-one years, and Natasha is back to being hunted by the US government after the Sokovia Accords are enacted. As she tries to go off the grid, she winds up with a mysterious package that leads her back to Budapest where she meets up with her former “sister,” Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and being hunted by the mysterious Taskmaster as they try to take down the program that made them who they are forever.
I think the main thing to realize here is that this is not your typical MCU film. It’s darker and moodier (the opening credit sequence alone will set that) while still keeping the tone and storytelling style of the films that it falls within. Make no mistake; this is the most non-superhero movie superhero movie I have seen. The themes of family, country, and betrayal make this more of a spy thriller with costumes, but the connective tissue is still there.
And Florence Pugh simply IS this film. Knowing what we know about the MCU, she is primed to be a player in the storytelling overall going forward (and yes, there is a post-credit scene). Harbour is full-on in his element as Red Guardian (deep cut fans will see a couple of great things in this) with Weisz rounding out the “family” well. Honestly, I would have liked to have seen more from her character, but this thing is already pushing 2 ½ hours and something had to be trimmed.
With no one really knowing outside of the studio where all of this is headed (we knew pretty quickly in Phase I), “Black Widow” is priming fans of all levels for a heck of a ride, and I. Am. HERE FOR IT.