Review: Marvel asks audiences to care about Black Widow again

Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff (or Black Widow) entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a side character more than a decade ago with her appearance in Iron Man 2. The franchise’s latest film attempts to demystify her clandestine character with a worthy send-off as the lead in her own movie. Ultimately, the film falls short in its efforts to make Black Widow a compelling lead as they introduce a family of characters who are frankly much more captivating.

Summary:

Set after the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Romanoff is on the oust with multiple international agencies and governments. Her fellow Avengers have all been arrested, sanctioned or gone into hiding. She’s alone, and the Avengers who have become like a family to her are disjointed at best.

Romanoff goes into hiding as well. While there, she stumbles upon a secret her adoptive ex-sister left behind. Romanoff is prompted to take an unscheduled trip down memory lane to deal with her origin story and the relationships she sacrificed to become an Avenger. Romanoff reconnects with her faux-family and discovers that the line between make-believe and reality are never as clear as we think. 

What works:

Black Widow excels at telling a story about the beauty of family. We don’t always choose how families come about, but we always have a choice in how hard we work to keep them together. Romanoff’s family is definitely an unorthodox assortment of former criminals, but they put in the effort to remain a family after they reunite in this film.

Although this film is named for Johansson’s Black Widow, her adoptive ex-sister Yelena Belova, played by Florence Pugh, makes a triumphant introduction to the MCU. She adds levity and serves as a necessary mirror to Romanoff. The character even goes so far as to critique the superhero’s signature fight stance calling her sister a poser. She works as the glue that keeps this unconventional family together and appears to have a role in the larger Marvel cinematic universe moving forward.

Rating: 3.5/5

Disney+ has been raising the prices of its Premiere Access to digital screenings of its blockbusters. To watch Black Widow at home, audiences would have to pay the streaming giant $29.99. Although the film has the production value of a Marvel cinematic masterpiece, I wouldn’t personally spend my money to watch this film from home.

The questionable decision to base an entire movie around a character who was already killed off is a choice that bothers many fans of the franchise, including me. Why should we care about developing the background and complexity of a character that we won’t see anymore? Prior to coming to the theaters, that’s a question many audience members struggle to answer for themselves.

For the people pushing that this narrative was a feminist necessity to tell the story of a longstanding Marvel character, I would currently disagree. This movie isn’t about an exit for Romanoff. It serves only one real purpose – introducing Yelena Belova.

Black Widow is currently out in theaters and available for purchase to Disney+ subscribers. You can watch the full trailer below.

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