As the first movie of the MCU Phase 4, Black Widow (2021) refreshes with its unexpected wholesomeness.
Black Widow (2021) Synopsis
While on the run after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Natasha Romanoff receives a blast from the past in the form of a package from Yelena Belova, a fellow Black Widow agent. Through Yelena, Natasha also learns that the unscrupulous General Dreykov, who previously controlled both of them in the Red Room, is alive and well. To rid the world of Dreykov and to free the remaining Widows under him, Natasha then agrees to work with Yelena to locate the Red Room. For their first move, they stage a daring attempt to free the imprisoned Red Guardian. The super-soldier Soviet agent had previously masqueraded with them during an Ohio mission. For both women, the garrulous Red Guardian is also “dad.”
I’m quite late in watching/reviewing this, and it’s not because of fear of watching it in a cinema during the SG Heightened Alert, or indecision over whether to purchase Premier Access on DisneyPlus.
It’s because I wasn’t interested in the movie, to begin with.
Yeah, as kickass as Scarlett Johansson was in all the MCU episodes she’s in, as affecting as her sisterly side in Phase 2 and 3 was, well, the Black Widow story somewhat pales beside those of Stark, Thor, or even Dr. Strange.
(Not to mention what happened in Endgame … Which makes this episode somewhat akin to a eulogy. One that I didn’t feel is necessary)
Well, it turned out not at all to be what I expected. I thought the bulk of the movie would have Natasha moping about, struggling with her past, etc. But no, she’s as coldly ruthless and efficient as ever. A little on the tender side because of her involvement with the Avengers, but still very much the dependable co-worker that Steve Rogers respects.
The story is also not the usual world-saving adventure. There’s a threat, of course, but it’s neither immediate nor looming. Instead, the whole fracas with the Red Room is no more than a platform to showcase Natasha’s superpowered “family.”
Yeah, a superpowered, dysfunctional, wholesome-in-its-own-way family. One that’s a whole bag of laughs thanks to Florence Pugh and David Harbour. Harbour, in particular, really steals the show with his egotistical but straightforward affability. As I highlighted in my visual summary, if only the movie places all of them beside Natasha in a high-powered fight! How would that turn out?
This was, truly an entertaining watch. An engaging adventure that wasn’t bizarre or unnecessary despite its timestamp.
I’ll end by saying too that I notice the MCU Phase 4 doesn’t just throw limelight on characters who previously didn’t get their own movies, it downplays the arcing threats and explores more intimate personality aspects.
It’s altogether a different flavor from the previous phases but so far, the taste is delightful. At the moment, I’m even looking forward to the Hawkeye series, despite him being my least favourite Avenger.
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