Director: Cate Shortland
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour
Before we talk about Black Widow, let us get one thing out of the way. Natasha Romanoff’s standalone film is not only many years too late, but the character also deserved a trilogy. With that being said, Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson, is the perfect send-off to our favorite superhero.
Right from the start, Black Widow is a bitter-sweet experience. You see the Marvel Studios intro playing but feel the pang of not being able to watch the film in theatres.
Black Widow starts with a sweeping shot of a perfect suburban neighbourhood in Ohio, where a young and blue-haired Natasha is cycling back home. There are kids playing, but she is objectively alone in that journey.
This is until she rides up to her driveway, where we see a little blond girl playing on a swing. Nat calls out to her sister Yelena with a whistle note and she reciprocates. They play their favourite game, competing to hold their handstand for the longest time.
“We’re both upside down,” Yelena says. In that moment you get a sense of what the film is about. It’s Natasha and Yelena against the world.
What follows in Black Widow is how the sisters’ perfect world falls apart because it did not exist in the first place. We see how they become deadly assassins. Natasha goes on to become an Avenger (the film takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War), while Yelena is still a killer for hire.
Nat and Yelena’s lives intertwine while the former is on the run as a ‘criminal’ and the latter finds out the truth behind the Red Room (where the Black Widows are trained). The ‘sisters’ team up for a mission, but a family reunion of spies and assassins would not go as smoothly.
Black Widow has it all, from edge-of-the-seat action sequences, a heartfelt sibling dynamic, some great twists and also a big opening for the future of the MCU. However, it’s heartbreaking and unfair that as fans you watch the film knowing Natasha is going to be dead in the near future. This character deserved to have closure from her past and a continued bond with her loved ones (just like all the male superheroes do). It’s tragic that the only reason it didn’t happen was because the Studios didn’t have faith in a woman-led franchise.
However, credit where it’s due, Marvel almost makes up for that with this film. It’s one of the best films that it has ever presented. Director Cate Shortland knows the significance of the film and through every shot and sequence, makes a statement about her agency.
Black Widow used to be a highly sexualised character, though it got better over the years, this film is the only time where she truly gets the treatment that she deserves. Natasha Romanoff is not the glamorous factor, or the token woman character anymore. She is a warrior, whose superpowers are her skills. She needs no saviour.
In terms of performances, Scarlett Johansson brings her best foot forward. David Harbour is highly entertaining as Alexei. Rachel Weisz, though a tad underused, has a lot of grace in her work. However, it is Florence Pugh that steals the show. She is badass and vulnerable at the same time. I am so excited to see what’s in store for her future in MCU.
Black Widow is one of the rare films that feels short. It lingers long after it is over. I might be biased towards the character, but it is only because of the impact she has held over the years. Black Widow is a film that should be watched and talked about, and not just for Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against Disney.