Once again Marvel sucks creativity from its talent
Avengers fans have always known that Natasha Romanoff, the Russian-American super-assassin played by Scarlett Johansson, has a dark past. Black Widow, borrowing narrative influences and tropes from the spy thrillers of The Manchurian candidate To The woman Nikita, allows us to understand all the specifics of this story while intelligently pointing to the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Director Cate Shortland, debauched by Marvel after independent projects like the excellent Traditions (2012), borrows from the vernacular of the Cold War era conspiracy to place Natasha in a winding world of deception; even the family in which she was raised holds untold secrets. Johansson brings a typical strength and gravity to his performance in what will likely be his last time to play the role.
After a long separation, she and her younger sister Yelena (Florence Pugh), with the help of what you might call a dysfunctional family made up of parents played by Rachel Weisz and David Harbor, attempt to shut down the program. assassinations that separated them.
Ray Winstone has an agreeable gravity as the helpless leader of the “Widowed” assassin program, which harvests lost and orphaned maidens and conditions them as skilled killers and spies. This is the same program that created Natasha and Yelena, and which has now developed a powerful form of mind control.
Black Widow is the first film in “Phase Four” of the MCU franchise, in which the original Avengers have completed their story arcs and a new group rises to answer the call for heroism. It works like a handover, showcasing Yelena as one of the major new characters of the Next Era.
The movie is thrilling when it feels like an action flick that just happens to be adjacent to Marvel, tearing up car chases in Budapest and breaking its noses with the kind of audible bone crunch that the kid-friendly MCU rarely indulges in. . And the storytelling is solid, building emotional scenes in the hands of more than capable artists.
The problem is, the heart of the story gets lost somewhere in the middle of the movie. It takes too long to start, to go through a long story that could have been condensed; and like so many of these visually interchangeable films, it absorbs independent talents like Shortland and Pugh, making what might have been their unique impacts on the film both visually or expressively negligible.
Rather than allowing creative talent to inform the aesthetic of the film, the choke Marvel has on its product keeps it from reaching more exciting levels. The result is a fun movie to watch, but very little else.
In theaters and on Disney +