Benjamin Wollmuth is an avid reader and writer who loves to explore movies and what makes them appealing or unappealing.
It Has Arrived
After two years without a big blockbuster from Marvel Studios, fans and casual audiences alike now have a solid reason to go to the movie theater (or pay the extra money to watch it at home): Marvel is back, baby! Well, I guess they have been back since the beginning of this year, with the releases of their limited series on Disney+. But what I mean to say is that they are back in theaters, and, God, I am so thankful. I almost forgot what it was like to experience a Marvel movie in theaters, to be surrounded by fans who know just as little as you do.
However, I must say that Black Widow was definitely my least anticipated movie out of the four coming out this year. It's not that I didn't want a Black Widow solo film, it's just that I didn't understand why Marvel waited so long to finally do it. Black Widow is canonically dead, so what could they possibly do with her character?
I will say, though, that the movie does shed light on the very clouded history of Natasha. While we don't see much of this history actually play out, we do get specifically told what happened. I don't know if we needed a whole movie for that to happen, but I'm glad I now know.
But I think I'm holding off on asking the question at hand here: was this movie worth the wait?
Be warned: spoilers potentially lay ahead.
Holding On For Too Long
From Marvel's series which they have put out and the slew of movies they have announced, I got the impression that Kevin Feige and everyone else a part of his team wanted to move forward. This movie doesn't feel like that. Rather, it feels, well... too late. There, I said it. It feels as if it should have been released between Civil War and Infinity War because other than the after-credits scene, this movie does nothing to set anything up in the future. Thunderbolt Ross was barely in the film, so it didn't feel like a Thunderbolts tease. Perhaps Red Guardian could show up again, but out of all the projects announced by Marvel, I don't really see a place for him in any of them. Yelena will definitely be showing up again, but I still feel as if her character will not be majorly important. Look, I will get to positives soon, but I just needed to get this off my chest. At this moment in time––and hell, this thought could change––Black Widow feels unnecessary, like a film made only because fans were begging for it. I hate saying it, but it's how I feel.
Let's keep the gripe train rolling with a bullet point list:
- In typical Marvel fashion, the villains were one-and-done antagonists that felt very lackluster. Dreykov was not imposing in the slightest, the Black Widows were barely utilized, and Taskmaster had so much wasted potential. I think the reveal of Taskmaster being Dreykov's daughter was interesting, but silent antagonists––besides Michael Myers––have never really felt imposing to me. Taskmaster was no exception. For a character as dangerous as Taskmaster... well, she didn't feel very dangerous.
- It's hard for a movie to have stakes when we know the main character lives to tell the tale. Therefore, many of the action set pieces lack the stakes that I'm sure Marvel wanted them to have.
- Why the hell was O-T Fagbenle in this movie? Nothing against the guy, but his character was completely underused.
While I do have gripes with the film, that does not mean that I disliked this movie. For a movie over two hours long, the time flew by. It was definitely entertaining and kept me engaged all the way through. The fight choreography was stellar––it reminded me of the brutality from The Winter Soldier and Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The performances were great––all of the actors and actresses give their all. In fact, Florence Pugh has slowly become one of my current favorite actresses.
Moreover, I do enjoy this film more than, say, The Dark World, or Iron Man 2, or The Incredible Hulk, to name a few. I still heavily enjoyed it and what it had to offer. It just definitely felt lackluster––like filler intended to give fans a little something to satiate their thirst while the super important stuff still made its way. Not terrible, though. It's still better than plenty of movies I've seen this year.
I don't like to say that a Marvel movie disappointed me, but I definitely feel as if the super cool stuff Marvel wants to show us just hasn't arrived yet. I'm sure Marvel told the story they wanted to tell, and I hope that director Cate Shortland was able to tell the story the way she wanted to do so. Again, it was still enjoyable. I had a good time, and my excitement for what is coming next has not diminished in the slightest. I guess I just wish that I could say a Black Widow solo film was great because as of right now, I can't. It was funny, it was action-packed, and it made me smile, but I think it could have been so much more.
So, was it worth the two-year wait? Because of my slight disappointment, I'm going to say no.
However, I still recommend you go see it.
I'm going to give Black Widow a 7/10.
© 2021 Benjamin Wollmuth