At long last, Marvel returns to the theaters, and their new phase of movies kicks off this month. Was the return worth the wait? Should fans be excited about the future that awaits the cinematic universe? In short, yes.
Most of you will probably go see this movie without even reading a review, and I don’t blame you. It’s been over a year without getting together to go see the next chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and now we can gather together again and leave the theater with smiles beaming on our faces. For the most part, Marvel’s latest outing, Black Widow, is exactly what we remember these movies being, and despite the uniqueness of Black Widow and her thematic elements, this movie plays things safe, which is good because I predict the next few Marvel movies are going to get weird. Though this movie disappointingly feels similar to other superhero adventures, this is nonetheless a good time. Set in between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, we get to see Natasha Romenoff take center stage as her past comes back to haunt her, and she must face it head-on and put an end to it once and for all. Though it has the ingredients for it, this does not end up being the political spy-thriller that one might expect. It’s a well-paced rollercoaster ride as Natasha goes around the world, from one action scene to the next, with nice, slow moments of reflection sprinkled throughout. The one part that doesn’t feel fully fleshed out is the third act. Unfortunately, Black Widow doesn’t make a superhero landing with a satisfactory resolution. This being a prequel may have messed with that part of the story, since we know what comes after these events, but I personally feel as though that’s not a valid excuse. Marvel’s legendary writer Stan Lee gave great advice to comic book writers: always assume the reader hasn’t picked up a comic book before. Meaning, make your story as captivating as possible in each issue. This movie seems to assume you’ve seen the other 20-something movies and will continue to keep up with the series moving forward. Aside from a lacking ending, this is a great return to the merry Marvel universe.
It’s so wonderful seeing Scarlet Johannson take the lead after all these years since she first donned the black and red costume back in 2010. As always, she just absolutely nails the character. From her confident poses to her witty banter, Johannson continues to make the character a powerful figure and someone who you want to get coffee with at your local Starbucks. Speaking of hanging out, Black Widow has some new (or, in terms of the story, old) friends to join her on the journey. We get to meet Yelena Belova, played by Florence Pugh, and the Red Guardian, played by David Harbour. These two characters are welcome additions, and much like the lovable mischiefs of the Guardians of the Galaxy, you’ll love these troublemakers, despite their flaws. Like Johannson, they bring their A-game when it comes to both being dramatic and silly and help sell each scene’s themes. Harbour is no “stranger” to “things” that balance humor with high-stakes drama, but Pugh was a standout. She easily got the biggest laughs out of the audience but also, I imagine, will become a fan-favorite very quickly. Heart and humor are staples for every great Marvel character, and the character of Yelena uses both arguably better than the leading lady herself. It’s a terrific cast that makes this movie so much fun to watch.
Another factor that makes Marvel movies so much is the super-heroic stunts and effects. This one in particular tries to change things up by implementing some influences from spy thrillers like Mission: Impossible and Jason Bourne. Those action scenes are the standout ones, because of their use of practical stunt work. It’s engaging and absolutely thrilling. However, the third act suffers from its ridiculous premise and high reliance on CGI. I know it’s a comic book movie, and I am quite the sucker for its goofy sci-fi elements. Though I must admit, I was a bit disappointed in the final action scene because, compared to the earlier ones, it wasn’t nearly as exciting, despite its explosive and bombastic cinematography. It went from believable stunt work that reminded me of better James Bond films, like Skyfall, to the campiness of the worst James Bond films, like Moonraker. Marvel movies have been criticized for years for their fake-looking third acts, and this one will not break the trend. I wish the final part relied more on practical effects, like the ending to Mission: Impossible Fallout. The final fight of that movie made great use of tangible vehicles and sets with good usage of CGI. Unfortunately, Black Widow did not take note of this and falls into a predictable and lifeless final confrontation that had so much potential.
Despite its flaws and Marvel’s repetitive trends, Black Widow is a great return for Marvel and theatergoers. Its fun espionage plot coupled with flawed yet memorable characters create another fun story set in the ever-expanding cinematic universe. I fear though that this movie may not be recognized as one of the better chapters in this saga, but undoubtedly, it will be a big hit with fans. And honestly, that’s why going to see these movies are a blast; the audience gets so thrilled seeing their favorite characters on the big screen time and time again. I, for one, hope this won’t be the last time we see Natasha Romenoff or her compatriots. I truly do hope we will be able to spend a couple of more hours with these characters sometime in the future.
Leave a Reply.