The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is finally available, after COVID-19 related delays.
Cast and Crew Information
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff
Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova
Rachel Weisz as Melina
David Harbour as Alexei
Ray Winstone as Dreykov
William Hurt as Secretary Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross
Story by Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson
Screenplay by Eric Pearson
Directed by Cate Shortland
Currently in theatres (where they are open) and streaming on Disney+.
Between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Natasha Romanoff makes some startling discoveries about her past and the realities of the present.
“I guess you’re just not strong enough, so I’ll have to do it myself.”
It’s hard to mention this without spoilers, but… no wig?
This isn’t as original as one would hope. As the twenty fourth film in the franchise, there are some elements that are expected (post-credits scene, villains, etc.) but we always hope to go somewhere new. While this does some of that, and adds original elements by departing from the letter of the source material while still maintaining the spirit, much of what we see here plays directly into expectations. It plays into them well, but for the most part, we still know what’s coming. I give it 4 out of 6.
The effects are well done, and plentiful. This movie was a long time coming. Had it been up to me (or Kevin Feige, or almost anyone except Ike Perlmutter, who actually had the authority to make the call) the Black Widow’s first solo film would have been made between The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The upside to getting this so late in the franchise is that the box office track records of Wonder Woman and Avengers: Endgame were established, so this got a far larger budget than it would have had previously. (The budget was 33% higher than the budget for Thor: The Dark World, for reference. Remember, this is a lead character with no supernatural abilities, so it’s easier to make her movie cheaper.) There are a suprisingly high number of action sequences in this compared to what I expected. There are very few scenes without some type of visual effects, but they all seem natural. I give it 6 out of 6.
The story is predictable, but no less enjoyable. It’s like an episode of Columbo: you know who the killer is, you know what detail is bothering Columbo as he hunts the killer down, and you usually know how he’s going to nail the person, but it’s still a lot of fun to watch when it finally happens. The same goes here: by the end of the first act, you’ve got a pretty good idea of how it’s going to play out, especially since it takes place prior to movies we’ve already seen, but it’s still a fun ride to take that is logically consistent. I give it 4 out of 6.
The acting is a big part of why this works. Despite the volumes of action, there are character arcs for our lead players, and Johansson, Pugh, Harbour, and Weisz all deliver the performances needed to make this story work. While Oscar nominations are unlikely, they are far more likely than Golden Raspberry nominations. I give it 5 out of 6.
The production is rock solid. Marvel Studios have an excellent grasp of the mechanics of filmmaking, and Cate Shortland brings it all together. I’m new to her work, but I’ll be watching for her name in the future. I give it 6 out of 6.
The emotional response is excellent. They are in control of the ride, and even when you see the turns coming, it’s fun to go through them. I give it 5 out of 6. If it were just a little less predictable, it could have hit a perfect score.
Overall, it’s another enjoyable chapter in the franchise. If you like the previous films, expect to like this one. If you didn’t like the previous films, I doubt this will change your mind. I give it 5 out of 6.
In total, Black Widow receives 35 out of 42.