‘Black Widow’: Marvel redeems relationship with Natasha Romanoff
Redheaded and overly sexualized spy Natasha Romanoff, played by Scarlett Johansson, was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) over 10 years ago in “Iron Man 2”. After nine Marvel films, the only female Avenger in the original six gets her own movie.
The star-studded film starring Florence Pugh, David Harbor, Rachel Weisz and Scarlett Johansson is packed with female power, comedy, and heartfelt moments with enough action to last a lifetime. After a year of delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, fans can finally see how Black Widow’s journey began.
The film, released July 9 in theaters and on Disney +, features a typical Midwestern family in 1995 with a grunge aesthetic.
Directed by Cate Shortland, the film opens with a young Natasha with red hair and blue tips as she plays with her younger sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) in Ohio.
With Russian super-soldier Alexei (David Harbor) and scientific mastermind Melina (Rachel Weisz) playing the girls’ fake parents, the family makes a classic superhero escape from the authorities to the coast of Cuba. Alexei takes on the role of the Red Guardian, the Soviet Union‘s response to Captain America, and the two daughters, Natasha and Yelena, are sent to the infamous Red Room to establish themselves as murderous “widows”.
The film gently touches the infamous Red Room, a training camp ripping young women off and training them to become assassins. Other characters like the Winter Soldier trained in this piece, which made it infamous in the comics. The room serves as a metaphor for human trafficking and more specifically the sex trafficking of young girls.
Aside from the mentions of forced sterilizations, the film doesn’t show much of the harsh and cruel training the girls endured, providing little context for new fans of the Marvel franchise. There is no bridge between the girls we met at the start of the movie and the trained adult assassins that we will meet later. By failing to show cruelty, Black Widow’s most crucial and defining years are erased from its backstory.
The film gains speed and importance when we discover that the Red Room, which Natasha knows she has finished, is still operational.
Natasha and Yelena, who have found an antidote to Dreykov’s (Ray Winstone) mind-control tactics, are tasked with the Herculean task of destroying the Red Room with the help of their imaginary parents Alexei and Melina. Although they are not related by blood, fake sisters have one thing in common: the need to redeem themselves from their past.
While the theme weighs heavily with nuances of human trafficking and abuse of women, the film strategically uses Habour’s comedic nature and Pugh’s insane ability to steal the show to bring comedic relief to audiences. The Red Guardian, now sporting a heavier and more worn look, reunites with Natasha and Yelena as they attempt to prevent the main villain, Dreykov, from controlling more “widow” assassins.
The film’s abundance of explosions, superhero twists, and one-on-one fights grab audiences’ attention, but its depth came from the heart-wrenching scenes of Yelena and Natasha realizing how important their upbringing was. wasted. During a bizarre family reunion with Melina and Alexei, Yelena’s heartfelt talk about the reality of everything she felt as a youngster stings viewers’ hearts.
“Black Widow” feels disconnected from the MCU, almost like a side plot to the events of the Avenger. It sounds disappointing for Black Widow’s long-awaited first solo film, given the events that unfolded in “Avengers Endgame”. The film allowed the Black Widow character to remain the reserved, stone-cold spy who lacked depth and personality, leaving the writing at fault.
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Marvel fulfilled their relationship with Black Widow and failed to solidify the only female in the original Avengers lineup with a standout movie. Instead, the movie acts as an additional puzzle piece wedged between Captain America: “Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War”.
Despite this, the film succeeds in giving Yelena a bigger role and spreading the message of free will and the empowerment of women.
The film’s ending highlights Yelena and Natasha’s relationship as sisters and invokes a few tears as the two bring down the Red Room. The jump from the post-credit scene moves into the MCU’s current time with Yelena and her dog Fancy Longbottom, a callback to Natasha’s alias from earlier in the film. A familiar face from the Falcon and the Winter Soldier approaches Yelena with an interesting proposal for revenge, setting up Black Widow’s successor for a bigger role in the MCU.
Overall, the film gives context and excites Marvel fans for the start of Phase Four of the MCU and is worth watching for those returning to theaters around the world.
Rating: 7/10 The film has some comedy, heartfelt moments, and a bad mood similar to a liaison film, but is underwhelming compared to Avenger’s other solo films.
Contact Melissa at [email protected] Follow her on twitter @mhernandezdlc.
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Melissa Hernandez de la Cruz is a fourth year journalism student at the University of Florida. She enjoys traveling, creating photography, enjoying new cultures and is addicted to history. Besides being a citizen of the world, she also shares birthdays with legendary artists Bruce Lee, Jimi Hendrix and Bill Nye.