Black Widow

REVIEW: Black Widow (2021)

After the events of Captain America: Civil War Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is on the run but soon her past catches up with her as she’s reunited with her sister Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and learns that the Red Room she thought she’d long destroyed is still active.

After all this time Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow finally gets her own movie. While I’m certainly pleased that the character, and Scarlett Johansson who has more than a decade with this character, has finally gotten their time to shine, as a film it also feels a bit redundant. Having it set between the events of Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War means that there’s no real stakes for Natasha as we know we see her again. However, while her physical safety may be assured, Black Widow does allow more time to examine her psyche and she a few other characters certainly go through the emotional ringer – whether all those emotional beats land is another matter.

The fight sequences are great and having so many aerial shots make the movements seem fluid and helps these scenes standout more compared to other fight sequences in the MCU. The initial confrontation between Natasha and Yelena who haven’t seen each other for decades is a highlight. There’s the usual big explosions and car chases but it’s the one-on-one fight sequences which are the best and highlight how Natasha differs to her fellow superheroes.

With Natasha unable to turn to her Avenger family, she is forced to reconnect with a family from her past. Her dynamic with Yelena is interesting as while Yelena is clearly a more than capable spy and combatant, Natasha quickly falls back into the older sister role. Alexei (David Harbour) is the only Russian super soldier and Melina (Rachel Weisz) round out this family unit as the slippery scientist who you’re never quite sure where her allegiance lies. There’s an easy chemistry between the four actors but Florence Pugh steals just about every scene she’s in. Her Yelena is sarcastic and funny but she’s also hurting from her own experience in the Red Room. She’s also struggling to compartmentalise what this family unit means as she was so young when they were last together and to her, while it was a family of spies and double agents, it felt real.

Black Widow is a simpler MCU film. It’s Natasha facing her past and while the hundreds of Black Widows out there can certainly cause a lot of damage, it’s not framed as the end of the world type scenario. Instead, it’s about saving these young women from a life of trauma and control. However, the idea of the Red Room and these young girls being trained, and even brainwashed, to become master spies and assassins is a dark one and Black Widow never really goes into it more than at the surface level. Natasha’s past is dark and while Johansson does a good job at slowly revealing the layers of Natasha’s guilt and pain and love that’s all mixed together with her feelings for the Red Room and this unconventional family of hers, it often feels like something is missing.

Black Widow is an enjoyable action/spy thriller and there’s some good character work for Natasha and Yelena. While characters like Alexei are fun when they’re on screen (he’s much of the films comedic relief) they’re not particularly memorable afterwards. 3/5.

TRAILER REACTION: Black Widow

The first trailer for the long-awaited Black Widow movie was released yesterday and I liked what I saw.

Now let’s get what will obviously be big talking points about this movie out of the way – the fact that this movie exists after certain events and that it probably should’ve happened a lot sooner. Also, that’s a spoiler warning for Avengers: Endgame.

Yes, Black Widow is a film that probably should’ve happened a long time ago, when Natasha Romanoff was the only female hero we had in the MCU and really had space to shine in amongst all the male heroes. Post-The Avengers was probably when it was the height of her popularity and would’ve made sense to have a solo movie. Nowadays it’s a bit odd we’re getting a Black Widow movie considering the fact Natasha dies during the events of Endgame but, it is a prequel. When it’s exactly set I’m not sure (because you know me, I don’t like to know too much about MCU films going into them) but it would make sense if it was post-Captain America: Civil War as that’s when the Avengers broke up, Natasha made her escape before the rest of Team Cap were arrested and we don’t really know what she was up to in the years between Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.

So in short, it kinda sucks we’ve had to wait this long for a Black Widow movie, and for a film that may not have lasting consequences for the overarching MCU and its characters as it’s a prequel, but it’s here now so let’s sit back and enjoy it.

Though Natasha’s voiceover quote is from Endgame and can obviously be applied to the whole Avengers team, I’m happy that Clint and Fury are the one’s singled out when it comes to her family. Clint was sent to kill her but made a different call and it was probably down to Fury (and maybe Coulson) that Natasha was allowed to prove herself and be a part of SHIELD. I’m a big fan of the OG SHIELD squad being a family.

Speaking of family, it looks like the family of choice trope is going to be alive and well here which I’m always happy to see. I won’t lie, I know very little about the characters who are in this movie. I know Florence Pugh plays Yelena Belova and I’m pretty sure I’ve read some Black Widow comics where she’s featured so I have a rough idea of who she is, but who Rachel Weisz and David Harbour play? I have no idea and even just seeing their characters names on IMDb doesn’t jog my memory at all but I’m OK with that. I’m liking the very brief look into what the dynamic between these four characters/actors could be like because as I said, the found family/family of choice trope is my jam.

I really liked the fight between Natasha and Yelena. I thought that was a great way to introduce this new character and set up her relationship with Natasha and show she’s just as good (if not better) as Nat. I also like the general vibe of the trailer. It feels like an espionage thriller but with added superpowers in the same way Captain America: The Winter Soldier did and as The Winter Soldier is one of my favourite MCU films, that works for me!

Black Widow is going to be the first film in Phase 4 of the MCU so even though it’s a prequel, the world is kind of its oyster. We have no idea who or what could be the overarching Big Bad for this phase of the MCU, or even if they’ll start dropping heavy-handed hints for it yet. Plus, with Florence Pugh becoming a bit of a rising star this year with Midsommar, Fighting with My Family and Little Women, the powers that be may be setting her up to return in future MCU movies as the new Black Widow or have her own new superhero name. I’m just guessing here.

Have you seen the Black Widow trailer? What did you think of it? I’m sure May 2020 is going to come around much faster than we expect.

SPOILER REVIEW: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

This review is full of spoilers. It’s all my thoughts about the characters and the plot, and all the things I loved and the stuff I wasn’t over keen on. You can read my spoiler-free review here. I wasn’t sure of the best way to go about this – it turned into a weird episodic structure where I talked about each character in turn and the things I liked/disliked about what they did. It also ended up being rather long, seriously it’s over 1,800 words! Last warning for SPOILERS! (more…)

The Hashtag Campaign for a Black Widow Movie

On Tuesday Marvel announced its future film slate up till 2019. Of the nine films there’s two that really excited me (and a large portion of the internet) Black Panther and Captain Marvel. I’ve been wanting a Black Panther movie since I first met the character in the Avengers: Earth Mightiest Heroes animated series – one of the best animated series ever and I miss it terribly. I’ve been all for a female led superhero movie for ages and Captain Carol Danvers is a pretty great character for connecting the real world of The Avengers and the space-elements of Guardians of the Galaxy.

I still can’t help but feel a bit disappointed that Marvel have no plans to make a Black Widow movie though. Yes there’s talk that she’s going to have a major role in The Avengers: Age of Ultron and in other future team-up movies, but she deserves to be so much more than the sidekick.

I loved Black Widow’s role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and I would love her to have her own movie so we could properly see her develop away from other characters like Cap and so we could find out about her backstory.

On Tumblr TheBeckyFord called for a Black Widow offensive before Marvel’s announcements were made. The plan is simple:

“On an agreed day (maybe a week from today, Sunday 2nd November to allow for awareness) everyone in support of a black widow movie tweets marvelentertainment using the hashtag #BlackWidowMovie demonstrating the wide fan base in favour of it. It’s a small gesture to be sure, but who knows. Encouragement doesn’t hurt. And mentioning that DC have female and people of colour led movies in the works can’t hurt either.”

The plan is still going ahead even though Marvel has now announced a female led movie and a person of colour led one. Just because Marvel is making one female-led movie it doesn’t mean ‘one’ suddenly means ‘equality’ what with all the other male (and more than likely white male) led films Marvel has announced are in production.

Just because Captain Marvel is having her own movie – why can’t Black Widow have her own film? It shouldn’t be a case of either/or. We should be able to get both movies.

both is good

So on Sunday I will be tweeting Marvel asking about a Black Widow movie and I hope you will be too – and don’t forget the hashtag #BlackWidowMovie

Here’s all the social media accounts you could possibly need:
@Marvel
@MarvelUK – there are also many other country specific Twitter accounts for Marvel but the Marvel Entertainment one is the most important
Marvel’s Facebook page
Marvel’s Tumblr page

REVIEW: Black Widow, Saga, Secret Avengers, Locke & Key and X-Men

Here’s anothphoto (7)er batch of mini-reviews of the various comics I’ve been trying out recently.

Black Widow Vol 1: The Finely Woven Thread – Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto
Much like Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, this is the story of what Black Widow gets up to when she’d not being an Avenger. Generally, she’s doing less than legal things in order to help make money to (somewhat) atone for her sins towards her previous targets families. This is a beautiful book and Natasha is awesome and I really like her relationship with her lawyer, who is also quietly badass. I love how Natasha does sometimes make mistakes (because she’s only human) and does get hurt but that doesn’t mean she stops fighting and being an awesome spy. 5/5.

photo 4 (1)Saga Volume One – Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Saga is a sci-fi, fantasy epic with star-crossed lovers. Alana and Marko fall in love and have a child, the only problem is that they are from long-warring alien races. Their marriage and child are against both races laws and they must fight for their survival while trying to bring up their daughter Hazel. I liked Alana a lot since she was no nonsense and tough (even when giving birth) but you can still see her softer side in relation to Marko and Hazel. Also I loved the artwork and how the aliens really look alien. Some are more humanoid than others but some of the best are the ones that look so weird and different – Prince Robot IV is kind of awesome since he has a human body but then a TV as a head. Saga is action-packed and funny and a great bit of epic science-fiction. 5/5.

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