Most would say that Natasha Romanoff was long overdue for her solo movie. Better late than never, right Marvel Studios? Either way, Black Widow officially hits theaters next week and many have wondered how it would stack up against other films in the MCU. Sure, there is a lot to unpack. But overall, Black Widow is a fun movie that’s a solid addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
From the opening scene to the end credits, we follow Black Widow and a stylish band of new characters around the globe as they work to stay off the grid and locate The Red Room. Overall, the story isn’t anything mind-blowing, but it’s still engaging and fun to watch. What helps with this is how slick the characters are and stylized the action scenes are shot. Florence Pugh is introduced as Yelena, Romanoff’s younger “sister”, and her performance is spot on as she introduces a new character with a lot of potential in the MCU. Pugh’s chemistry with Scarlett Johansson is splendid. It’s also great to see Pugh in a movie of this size so her acting skills can be seen by a bigger audience. She is truly a gem. Another addition to the cast is Alexei (David Harbour) and Melina (Rachel Weiz), and they turn in solid performances to round out this dysfunctional “family.”
Black Widow feels similar to Captain America: The Winter Solider in the sense of it’s basically a spy thriller with superheroes. The difference in Black Widow is that the script has to work a little harder since Romanoff doesn’t actually have super powers. The story, as a whole is decently written, minus a serious slow part in the middle that we often see in a Marvel movie. What helps forget about an overall average script is that Black Widow is a lot of fun. The action is sophisticated and a few of the set pieces make for plenty of eye-pleasing scenes that have you on the edge of your seat. The comedic timing is on point as well and that helps offset the action very nicely. It rarely comes off cheesy.
One of the biggest criticisms of the MCU over the years is how weak the villains come off in a lot of the films. Unfortunately, Black Widow is no different. The action is fun, but it does get a little bogged down by a villain no one really cares about and some other forgettable enemies. None of these things ruin the movie by any means, but it’s disappointing at this point that Marvel Studios seems to put little effort into foes in the bulk of their flicks. The chemistry of the cast and performances help distract from it, though. Just go into the movie knowing you’re not gonna get a Black Panther-level villain this time around.
Black Widow doesn’t break way from the MCU formula we’ve all grown to expect at this point, but it does help that Romanoff is a well established character in the universe. While this movie is fun, it makes you wonder what the MCU is going to do to keep everything fresh from here on out. We’ve seen this same song and dance for years now, and one way or another, it’s going to need to change.
By and large, Black Widow is a movie that Johansson deserved years ago, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good time. Even though it isn’t amazing, it’s nice to see a solo movie from one of Marvel’s longest, well-known characters. It’ll be challenging to not have a good time with this one and it needs to be seen on the big screen. Stick around for the post credits scene, which teases an upcoming project in the MCU.