The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been away for some time, at least on the silver screen. Heroes have been fighting crime on the small screen through Disney+ and now, Natasha Romanoff is kicking through theatres in “Black Widow.”
The film, directed by Cate Shortland, brings back Scarlett Johansson to reprise her role as Natasha Romanoff, a member of the Avengers and a former Russian agent. The film takes place in 2016 after the passing of the Sokovia Accords featured in “Captain America: Civil War,” with Romanoff fleeing prosecution by the United States government. Romanoff eventually makes contact with a mysterious asset of her former employers the Red Room, a shadowy paramilitary organization associated with Russia but connected to governments all around the world. The asset, a super-soldier able to mimic anyone they see called Taskmaster, attempts to kill Romanoff because she has come into contact with a package desired by the Red Room. Romanoff links up with her younger sister, Yelena, portrayed by Florence Pugh of “Midsommar” fame, to help her track down the Red Room and put a stop to its continued operation. Natasha and Yelena are joined by their adoptive parents the Red Guardian Alexei, portrayed by David Harbour, and former Black Widow Melina, portrayed by Rachel Weisz.
The film is certainly a worthy next step in the MCU. It should probably be considered an in-between step. The only thing making it worthy is it finally gives us more insight into Natasha Romanoff’s psyche. For a majority of the MCU, Romanoff has got the short end. She’s been heavily featured, don’t get me wrong, but it’s always been in someone else’s movie. In “Avengers: Endgame,” she’s practically the leader of the Avengers in the five years after the infamous snap by the mad titan Thanos. This is her first solo step and unfortunately, it will probably be her last. Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of the Russian defector Romanoff is spectacular.
It’s also a good thing that Marvel executive Kevin Feige wants to see more of David Harbour and Rachel Weisz because they are a great addition to this movie. Florence Pugh is great too but the acting ability by Harbour is something that overshadows others’ performances. Harbour is probably most well-known from the Netflix series “Stranger Things,” where he really got his stride. Harbour knows how to fill up a room or a shot with his own personality seen through the character. I share in Feige’s aspirations of wanting to see more of Harbour and Weisz. They’re great, great characters.
The film’s shortcomings are in the form of pacing. The pacing is just a little off when moving out of action sequences. It often turns into family drama (which is somewhat appropriate given the nature of Romanoff’s upbringing). There’s a certain bore about some of the family fights but overall, this isn’t an extreme setback.
“Black Widow” has a great approach that many of the other, often hidden, MCU characters should be treated to. It’s a great action-packed way to flesh out these characters after the Infinity Stone era. “Black Widow” receives an A rating.