‘Black Widow’ Review: The Film Start To Phase 4

Black Widow has finally come out, fans have been waiting since the movie was announced, then delayed three consecutive times, hopping from May 2020 to November 2020, then to May 2021, and then lastly to July 2021. All in all, though, Black Widow was worth the wait. It has its ups and downs, just like any film, but it’s overall a wonderful kickoff to Phase 4 of the MCU.

WARNING: FROM THIS POINT ON, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR BLACK WIDOW. IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO SEE THESE SPOILERS, STOP READING IMMEDIATELY.

The Good

Where to start? Well, this film is pretty good. Despite the 80% on Rotten Tomatoes (which were mostly due to a certain detail that we’ll talk about later), it still was a good movie, and when I saw it at the theater, I really enjoyed it. Florence Pugh really takes her role to the next level in this film. She acts with grace and elegance, and outshines everyone else in this film.

Rachel Weisz plays her part as Melina Vostokoff, and while she does end up calling the Red Room to capture Romanoff, she later regrets it and helps them to escape and kill General Dreykov. Her story has a full character arc, from the flashback to Ohio in 1995, to the escape with the Widows from Secretary Ross, she has a full arc that’s well developed, and she would do well in the future of the MCU, as a hero, anti-hero, or maybe even a villain.

The action scenes in this movie are off the charts, up there with the likes of John Wick, Mission: Impossible, James Bond, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Scarlett Johansson has some impressive scenes, including the prison break sequence and the whole sky-fight display.

Julia. Louis. Dreyfus. We saw her for all of about 3 minutes, but that was enough to give us chills about what she has in store for us as the MCU continues. First in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, now in Black Widow, it seems that Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Val for short, but NEVER call her that to her face) is assembling a team. Her character is meant to be a sort of Dark Nick Fury, so you never know what projects she might appear in.

Finally, O-T Fagbenle. He portrays Rick Mason, who basically outfits and equips Natasha for her missions. He’s the one in the background, never seen, never known, but is always there, helping out as much as he can.

The Bad

Now, let’s go to the bad. David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian mostly just gets his butt kicked in this film. Period. Whether it’s a pyschological butt-kicking by Yelena and Natasha, or a physical one from Taskmaster, it’s basically all he does in the movie, and doesn’t add much to the plot. If anything, he’s there for comedic relief, but it’s mostly dad jokes.

The third act is when everything falls apart. There was too much talking in the first two acts, so the third act becomes super rushed, and doesn’t make complete sense. It feels like The Flash is speeding up the script, there’s so many ways the third act could have been better, but somehow, they didn’t catch the mistakes in post-production.

The biggest issue with the film, though, was Budapest, Dreykov, and Taskmaster, which are all related. Taskmaster was Dreykov’s daughter, which was a problem in itself. In the comics, Taskmaster was a man, named Tony Masters. While the gender and identity change was fine, the way it was executed was poor. The movie doesn’t explain how Dreykov and Taskmaster survived the assassination attempt in Budapest.

On the topic of Budapest, to the crew of the film: Show, don’t tell. That scene could have been done better in so many ways. There was just a bunch of description, but it would have been 100x better if they had shown a couple flashbacks to the battle.

Now, Dreykov. I’m going to be blunt. He was terrible. There was no character depth to him, he died too quickly, and his character didn’t make sense. He was basically a Russian military general who had his men kidnap young girls and train/brainwash them to become assassins.

The film doesn’t explain his motivations for doing those things. He died too quickly, and could have been better developed if he was taken prisoner by Yelena and Natasha. In a future project, he could have been visited by Yelena (since Nat’s dead), and he could have been a bit part of another project. But of course, he died.

The Breakdown

Quick breakdown of the film and the ramifications it has for the MCU going forward: Val is setting up Hawkeye. By giving Yelena a target (Clint Barton), we’ve gotten our first look at what we’ll see in the Hawkeye series. Second, Val’s also clearly building some sort of super-team, either the Thunderbolts or the Dark Avengers. By recruiting Yelena and John Walker (US Agent), Val has 2 members needed, and she’s expected to recruit Zemo soon enough.

David Harbour and Rachel Weisz are clearly appearing in future projects down the road, most likely with the freed Widows and the now-freed Taskmaster. What happens to them, hero, anti-hero, or villain, remains to be seen. Taskmaster will probably become some sort of a Deadpool-ish character, without the explicit content. The freed Widows may go on missions with Vostokoff and Shostakov. Vostokoff may become her comics persona, the Iron Maiden.

Yelena Belova will hunt Barton down, probably try to kill him, clearly appearing in the Hawkeye TV show, and wherever Val shows up, Yelena’s probably not too far behind.

Conclusion

All in all, the film’s action was top-notch, and Florence Pugh CRUSHED IT as Yelena Belova, but Taskmaster could have been done a bit better. Besides that, and that the film was rushed in the third act, it was one of the more memorable entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I look forward to seeing these characters in action again someday.

Marvel Studios’ Black Widow is now playing in theatres and streaming on Disney+ with Premier Access. See Yelena Belova in Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye, releasing Late 2021 on Disney+.

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