Let’s talk about Black Widow.
I’ve been wonder if the pandemic was good for Marvel creatively. If they were ever to be forced to have a break in releasing films, it happened at the right time with the end of Phase 3. But it’s more that for a few years, we were getting three Marvel films a year and they do follow a formula. It’s a very good formula which has given us a lot of entertaining movies over the years, but a formula nonetheless which we could have got tired of. And probably would have considering not much will match the emotional highs and lows Endgame took us on. So a break, only interrupted by the unique TV shows on Disney+, probably did the series a lot of good before we finally returned with Black Widow.
Just after the events of Civil War, Natasha Romanoff is on the run. However her attempts to stay low are disrupted when she receives a message from her sister who she hasn’t seen since they were both children. She soon discovers that the man who brainwashed her as a child is still alive and training more widows, so she teams up with her sister to try and stop him.
The film has a pretty breathless start. After a flashback to show us Natasha and her sister Elena’s childhood, the film just throws action scene after action scene at us. There’s barely a breather as we go from fight scene to big chases to more big fight scenes, maybe with robot type people involved. You think you’re in for a break as Natasha gets used to life in the middle of nowhere but no, it takes a couple of minutes for a missile to hit her car and for her to be hanging off the edge of a bridge. For a while, you think this is the film. That it’s going to be this breathless, non-stop action film where your main characters are thrown from set piece to set piece. It would have certainly been an interesting turn from Marvel and would mark it out as very different from the other films in this Universe. But eventually, it does settle down and get into that Marvel formula we are used to.
That Marvel formula is one we all know and love. You get some cool action scenes and then some witty banter inbetween, there’s a heartfelt moment somewhere before the final third where a lot of CGI things go boom. It is much the same here. The witty banter comes from the combo of Natasha and Elena. What a great addition the latter is to this universe! While Natasha has had her funny moments, she’s always been a bit of a dry character who others have bounced off for their own funny moments. Elena contrasts by being very witty and funny, even calling Natasha out for the pose she does that is on all the posters for this film and the ones before. She’s just a very fun character to be around and the sister relationship is very enjoyable to watch.
Considering there are a lot of action scenes, it’s a good that they are very good. They aren’t the best, I think seeing Nobody has ruined me for the year as I’ll be down, but they are still very good. There are still some shakycam moments which really shouldn’t be happening, especially when the two people fighting are wearing similar coloured costumes, but for the most part it’s clear and you feel the hits. I will say it’s nothing spectacular, but it is very good and the action just flies by. It’s just solidly good, hence how small this paragraph is.
I mentioned at the start that Marvel probably benefitted from the pandemic creatively because people could refresh themselves before getting into the formula. And Black Widow in particular will be happy it’s been almost two years since the last Marvel film in the cinemas because this is probably the most standard Marvel formula film that could be released. Other than a title sequence, which is quite novel, this is probably the most basic Marvel film we’ve had for a while. There’s no genre bending, no massive attempts at world building and nothing that would make this film stand out in the middle of the pack. I think if this was released in a normal schedule, it’d end up feeling like Ant-Man and The Wasp, a perfectly good film but one that struggled around its fancier colleagues. But with barely any big blockbusters having come out, it certainly feels a lot better for it.
But don’t let that feel like a downer on Black Widow. This is a very good film that does what it sets out to do. It gives us more backstory on a beloved character in The Avengers and considering what we know happens to the character, is certainly a very good way to say goodbye to the character. It has very good action scenes, is able to give you enough laughs to make some modern comedies ashamed of themselves and reintroduces us to the Marvel universe in a fairly comfortable way. Considering how long it has been for those of us who don’t have Disney+, maybe this is the ideal way to get back into this mad comic book world.