Black Widow (2021)
July 9, 2021 12:29 AM - Subscribe

A film about Natasha Romanoff in her quests between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.

In Marvel Studios' action-packed spy thriller "Black Widow," Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.
posted by kitten kaboodle (79 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I caught a late show last night.

David Harbour and Florence Pugh were fun and had some great moments. Rachel Weisz didn't have enough to do, unfortunately.

Taskmaster ended up being a big yawn. Disappointed it wasn't an actual villain with character, just a robot blah.

I'm all-in on the MCU, but this movie felt like one of the below average entries, and it should have been done five years ago.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:43 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


This movie is too late, full stop. If they'd done it shortly after 2012 or even before Endgame, that would be one thing. Younger!snerson would have been all over it with a large popcorn and soda, thank you very much.

I'm in so many minds about it, really. Glad we're getting a female-led superhero movie. Disappointed that it looks meh. Wondering if this is a glass cliff move after the superhero furor died down a little after Endgame. Annoyed at even seeing the name Scarlett Johansson after Ghost in the Shell.

idk, I may still end up seeing it in theaters (even if only for the novelty of being back in a theater). This just feels all mealy-mouthed and untimely.
posted by snerson at 6:24 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Surprising smaller scale for theel MCU, which is great after Endgame. A bit less of the big screen action and more of the already good character development would have been perfect, as well as a more developed villain. Common problem with MCU stuff, they need to work on that.

There is 1 stinger at the very end.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:26 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


Also, don’t expect it make sense logically, but the emotional themes work well.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:28 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


The stakes in this film were surprisingly muted compared to other Marvel films. They did a lot of talking about how Natalia needs to rebuild her family, but did we really see on screen why that needed to happen? Nat seemed perfectly fine on her own. And the Red Room is an EVIL organization that engages in MURDER, ASSASSINATIONS, and CHILD TRAFFICKING on an industrial scale. But again, did we actually see any of that on screen? No, it was only talked about in exposition. And is Taskmaster really evil? Or is she just another victim of the Red Room who needs to be saved? By waiting until the very end of the film, it blunted the reveal.

In short, there was way too much tell, and not enough show.

Compare and contrast with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The Bucky reveal came ⅔ through the story, not at the end. And after the reveal, Bucky became a POV character, and we get to see him being brutally tortured by Hydra, which not only hammered home who the real villain of the story is, it raised the stakes considerably for the final confrontation between Steven and Bucky, and we understood perfectly what Steve was fighting for.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:51 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


not reading any comments yet, just logging my helpless shaking hands that it's not on D+ here
posted by cendawanita at 7:46 AM on July 9


Taskmaster ended up being a big yawn. Disappointed it wasn't an actual villain with character, just a robot blah.

She wasn't a robot though.
posted by Pendragon at 10:38 AM on July 9 [8 favorites]


She wasn't a robot though.

Thanks, yes, I did see the movie. Saw her helmet come off and everything. Yep.
posted by Fleebnork at 12:01 PM on July 9


I liked the film but the amount of physical abuse the leads endured took me out of the movie. Like, I get it, it’s an action movies, we can expect the heroes (superhero or not) to survive things that would incapacitate people in the real world.

But, for example, there’s a scene in this where Natalie falls down the side of a building, gruesomely hitting several solid protuberances on the way down. In a 90s movie it would have been the death scene for the villain. But she immediately gets up and tells someone else who was injured to “stay down”. You stay down, you probably have a concussion, a shattered hip, and a broken spine.

I wish there had been a throwaway line about how the girls in the Red Room were all given a weaker version of the Winter Soldier serum. Not enough to make them superheroes but enough to make them resilient, a little more injury resistant.

I know, I know, it’s a dumb thing to get hung up on in a movie with a flying space fortress, but the hero armor was just way too thick for me to ignore here.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:46 PM on July 9 [7 favorites]


Maybe it's because I can finally go to the movies for the first time in a year and a half but I loved this one. I thought it was really well paced and not over long like most of the recent ones and the cinematography looked better than 90% of other MCU films. I could have done with a little less of David Harbor's clowning but Johansson, Pugh and Rachel Weisz were great.
posted by octothorpe at 10:26 PM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Had a blast. Funnier than I expected, interesting twist with the Taskmaster, and even a brief callback to the first Avengers movie. Left wondering if we'll see the other Widows again, and also about that after-credits scene, considering who else the surprise guest star has working for them.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:22 PM on July 9 [3 favorites]


This was so fun, they packed a family drama into a James bond/Bourne movie. Pugh is awesome and funny.

It hardly let up with the action, I know they were going for 'winter soldier', there a a few beats taken from that. The stunt team is incredible, the fights were tense.

Really it was the actors that pulled off the drama, the script is lean, and mostly about punching. Even the villain is mostly there to make you hate him as an abuser, but the actor was compelling, so I was moved by those scenes. Mostly everything is about the characters of Natasha and Yelena, so the villains are mere foils, albeit foils acted by performers that give you a lot with their two or three close ups

SJU basically said they would have traded the skybase falling for another two scenes around the dinner table, and I agree. Somehow the rooftop chase was more thrilling than our heroes diving through the air

But all in all a great flick for returning to the theatre
posted by eustatic at 11:53 PM on July 9 [5 favorites]


It was nice to see Natasha get the graveside send-off that she was denied in Endgame, even if it was in a post-credit sequence.

That's also the first time I can recall a character introduced in an MCU TV series (Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, who first made her appearance at the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) transitioning into a movie. Granted, Marvisny's push to television hasn't been going on that long, but it's interesting to see just how closely integrated the universe is becoming: it does look like Pugh will indeed play a major role in the Hawkeye series.

I agree that the film needed a few more beats - Widow's first fight against Taskmaster in Norway followed almost immediately by a fight with her sister in Bucharest, then against the other Red Room agents, only to be chased by TaskMaster felt like a bit much.

Florence Pugh was amazing. I haven't seen her in anything since Midsommar, and barely recognized her as the same actor here. I need to go back and watch some of her recent work.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 2:22 AM on July 10 [3 favorites]


That's also the first time I can recall a character introduced in an MCU TV series (Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, who first made her appearance at the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) transitioning into a movie

Well, the movie was supposed to be released before the TV series, but, you know, COVID.
posted by Pendragon at 3:44 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]


I'm definitely in the camp that loved it. If it's only job were to make a strong case for Florence Pugh taking the reins of the role going forward, it would succeed and be a good two hours based on that alone, but it does a lot more than that.

There were things I could quibble with. The repeated flashbacks to the Plan felt occasionally like I was watching a Honey Heist session, and Milena felt like she went from "Loving but badass mother figure" to "Actually super bought-in with the Red Room dogma and showing off how she can make a pig kill itself" to "Nevermind in with the 'family'" a little too easily.

But whatever, the flashbacks allowed for Natasha to break her own nose on the desk when Dreykov proved ineffectual at doing it for her, which was an indelible moment, as was Natasha and Antonia fighting atop falling debris.

Mostly though, this was a delight to watch with my wife, for whom this was, even more than Captain Marvel, the MCU movie she's been waiting (and waiting and waiting) for. She loved every minute of it, but in particular the matter-of-fact hysterectomy conversation, which she couldn't believe was happening in a mainstream action movie.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:59 AM on July 10 [10 favorites]


Yeah, these movie feels like 5-10 years late, but as a send off for the character who willingly sacrificed her life for half the universe, it definitely works!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:22 AM on July 10 [4 favorites]


I feel like there should have been two Black Widow films, one before the first Avengers' film and then one after Civil War which is when this is set.
posted by octothorpe at 5:57 AM on July 10 [3 favorites]


I feel like there should have been two Black Widow films, one before the first Avengers' film and then one after Civil War which is when this is set.

I will say, I feel like at the heart of what makes Natasha such a thrilling character to watch in the other MCU movies is that her close-quarters hyper-professional and balletic fight choreography is very indicative of who the character is - super competent, probably the best tactical thinker on the team, and self-possessed to an extreme degree that shows off the tension in how calculated and detached she is while doing "the work" and how warm she is at all other moments. There's a lot of talk about how this is a "lower-stakes" MCU movie but it's still one that features a prison break where a helicopter barely escapes a massive avalanche and a climax with a massive airbase falling from the sky. And a Black Widow movie doesn't actually need those things to be effective.

Like, yes, spectacle is a good thing in MCU movies, and it's what we're here for, but Black Widow is so distinctly human compared to the rest of the team that a very human-scale spy thriller (set in the Phase One era as octothorpe suggsests) would/would have worked gangbusters, settling into a tone of expectations such that a thrillingly directed motorcyle chase (like the Budapest one here) would feel climactic rather than like an early-act-two setpiece, and when the spectacle really hits, it could truly feel like a WTF moment that absolutely threatens our heroine.

But that's all woulda coulda shoulda at this point.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:12 AM on July 10 [10 favorites]


We watched last night at home.

Short version: Really enjoyed character-focused scenes, most of the battle scenes really felt like unnecessary filler. The end battle was just silly and I wish movie-makers would dial it back from unbelievable silliness to more believable fights.

Hire whoever did Daredevil's fight scene planning or whatever for movies like Black Widow. They really wasted Taskmaster's potential here. Instead of the big blowing things up in the sky bullshit we could have had a really epic and tense 1 on 1 between Natasha and Taskmaster.

(Also disappointed we're unlikely to ever get a good Captain America vs. Taskmaster battle, which could have been awesome.)

Hoping that Yelena Belova does pick up the Black Widow mantle going forward. She was a hoot. “This is a much less cool way to die.” "Such a poser."
posted by jzb at 7:07 AM on July 10 [8 favorites]


I had fun and I'm glad I went, but damn. If Marvel had given a shit sooner, then just like with Cap, Thor, and Iron Man, there is enough Black Widow material out there to spin into a whole film trilogy plus supporting Avengers appearances, with enough left over for an overstuffed TV series. Honestly, I was half holding out hope for a Natasha resurrection clue right up until the end of the post-credits bcs holy shit she was robbed.

Looks like Taskmaster has been as well, losing his entire identity to become Natasha's Guilt Amazo. I'm all for gender swapping and reinterpreting these characters, and I'll be pleasantly surprised if this take on Taskmaster does indeed return to be developed and occupy a similar space in the MCU as in the comics, but I have a bad feeling we've seen the last of her, which is a shame. Taskmaster is an all-time fav of mine, and has cool stories with other characters confirmed for future projects, such as Moon Knight.

Oh wells. Lots of weird choices on The Sacred Timeline. Like I said, I had a good time, but this was also Missed Opportunity vs. Missed Opportunity, the Motion Picture.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:38 AM on July 10 [4 favorites]


The writers of this one were pretty constrained by the fact that they had to fit this into an existing set of films with eight of them set in the timeline after this one. It's like the old pre-nineties model of TV show where everything resets at the end of the episode.
posted by octothorpe at 9:56 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]


It was fine and watchable but it wasn't the Black Widow movie I wanted or needed.

I think my ideal version of it would have been much more character-driven, more intrigue, less crazy action. Imagine Black Widow dropped into the world of Killing Eve, for example. That's what I would have wished for. Also for it to have come out 6 years ago.
posted by wabbittwax at 10:03 AM on July 10 [4 favorites]


Wouldn't have bothered but for Florence Pugh, who made it worth the effort. Solidly meh otherwise. Could've done with more character beats and less ridiculous CG action, but it's Marvel, so ... *shrug*

Bora Horza Gobuchul -- I might recommend beginning with Lady Macbeth and The Little Drummer Girl; Pugh is excellent in both. If her Yelena is as good in the Hawkeye series as she was here I may need to manage my dislike of Renner and give it a chance.
posted by myotahapea at 10:38 AM on July 10


I thought this was pretty solid, with Pugh's deadpan comedy being a high point. I'm also a low-key fan of Taskmaster in the comics and was a bit disappointed to have that character replaced by this one, but I did enjoy the bits of choreography where the movie Taskmaster was using fighting techniques we'd previously seen from Black Panther, Captain America, etc, and I thought the overall fight choreography was good and well-directed..

It felt like there was something interesting that this movie was trying to say, briefly, about the limits and nuances of the "make your own family" idea, but it was quickly drowned out by explosions. I was definitely hoping for a little more pathos from the Red Guardian character, too, but there didn't seem to be all that much under the surface.

I'm very glad that the movie didn't wind up with one of the many dudes on the Avengers swooping in for a deus ex machina rescue at the end, something I was mildly concerned might happen towards the end there.
posted by whir at 11:56 AM on July 10


deus ex machina rescue

Aren't most superhero stories just the superheroes forgetting they're basically gods and then at the end deus ex machina'ing themselves?

One of my giant, deeply personal gripes about the MCU wanting to do smaller scale stories like BW/WandaVision/TFAWS/Loki and tie-ing them in to the larger scale stories is the disconnect that has to happen.

Cap swinging in at the end of BW and saving the day wouldn't be deus ex machina, it's oh hey Steve Rogers is a personal friend and Bruce tagged along because we had a thing going for awhile.

I think this is why the stakes have to be small and more emotionally focused for any of these type of stories. Wanda pulled this off better than most but still feel like if a giant magic bubble appeared Strange would have at least popped in for a looksy. If BW was in actual danger or going against an actual world threatening foe she's not dumb enough to not call in one of her friends-with-godlike powers.

All that being said this was a fun movie and would have absolutely done extremely well if it had come out before IW. Sadly there's so much meta-information attached that it ultimately can't really hit its emotional beats because we all know what happens next.

Disney really needs to stop trying to shoehorn beloved characters into interesting ideas so they can breathe on their own. See also: Solo.

This should have been about Yelena with BW being the deus ex machina.
posted by M Edward at 12:32 PM on July 10 [3 favorites]


I thought this movie was super fun and enjoyable. Loved the relationship between Natasha and Yelena and really enjoyed both the more intimate scenes and the fight choreography.

And, it seems like a small detail, but I absolutely LOVED that all the women had their hair tied back in braids, ponytails, etc. during action scenes. So unusual for action movies, and about time we see practical hair and wardrobe for female characters!
posted by stellaluna at 12:54 PM on July 10 [11 favorites]


After letting the movie sit for a day, I have to say I'm a bit disappointed, especially in the editing and the story.
The action scenes were edited fine but when the movie slows down the editing is just bad. It's choppy and doesn't flow well.

They should have focused more on the "family" of Yelena, Natasha, Alexei and Melina, instead we get one scene at the dinner table when they reunite. And the idea of TaskMaster being the daughter of Dreykov is fascinating but it was wasted with only a couple of action scenes.

Also, the story rests too much on the viewer knowing the history of Natasha, the movie should have revisited the reason of why she has to destroy the Red Room. The fact that the Red Room still exists should have been a much bigger deal, instead it's just a quick scene and then on to the action.

It may be blasphemy for a Marvel movie, but I think it could have used less action and more story beats.

But the performances of the actors were good, especially Florence Pugh.
posted by Pendragon at 4:22 PM on July 10 [3 favorites]


The story behind one of the more real moments of the film.
posted by Quonab at 5:48 PM on July 10 [6 favorites]


This was really fun, and I'm fairly burned out on Marvel movies. Pugh rules, Weisz rules. I want more studios to roll with movies that are just good-but-not-great fun blasts, there's a void between oscar bait and tentpole blockbusters where a lot of fun stuff used to live (hell, Iron Man was one and its charm launched this whole thing), and I think despite being a big budget megastudio tentpole blockbuster in the biggest franchise around, it felt more like what I want.

The opening credits making liberal use of old video and photo effects for scenes of child trafficking and abuse was waaaay too heavy on the verisimilitude though. I know that's part of the story and the movie is unequivocally saying it's horrible, and taking enjoyable pleasure in fictional vengeance on people who perpetrate these things, but it's really hard to watch kids even acting like they're in distress in a format that looks like something out of a documentary that I wouldn't be able to bring myself to watch.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:00 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


Also I love that Pugh got to wear a baggy superhero suit with a chunky pocketed vest! This movie was pretty good at not going nuts for stupid male gazey stuff, or at least nothing really jumped out at me. I swear there was a scene where Nat had visible acne, even, which would have to have been an intentional choice. I'm glad there's space for movies playing on this level to not engage with objectifying nonsense so much.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:06 PM on July 10 [5 favorites]


Weirdly, the movie does a lot of the little stuff really well. Like the conversation in the car about Yelena’s vest with all the pockets. It felt like such a natural bit of dialogue. I fully expected Yelena was going to pull some life saving gizmo out of that vest. But nope. The pay off was that in the end, Yelena has to put the last vial of anti-mind control gas in her bra because she gave the vest to Natasha and now she doesn’t have any pockets. Then it comes back around at the stinger when Yelena’s wearing a crop top and two different kinds of plaid because she’s just now buying her own clothes.

Or Red Guardian having “Karl” and “Marx” tattooed on his knuckles. It makes him kind of cartoonish. And then he goes bragging about the time he fought Captain America. Everyone knows Captain America was still frozen in 1985. But, the irony is we know Steve Rogers went back in time and was running around in the eighties. Did the fight really happen or is he just telling tall tales? Kind of like the “Captain America is on the moon” conspiracy from Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it opens up a whole bunch of possibilities.
posted by chrisulonic at 7:01 PM on July 10 [10 favorites]


Iron Man 2: Nat is sent by S.H.I.E.L.D. to go undercover and assess Tony Stark, which she does by wearing sexy business formal and taking a lot of shit off of Tony.

Captain America Civil War: Nat leads Steve around by the nose getting him from one beat to another while pausing to encourage him to date and help facilitate his transition to modern life after the trauma of being frozen for 70 years.

I could type out examples like this for every single MCU film the character appeared in - the Avengers are family from Nat’s perspective but she’s the only one we see doing the work of keeping them together and doing emotional labor and regular labor for each of them. The abortive romance with Bruce which provided a little sweetness but was basically snatched away from her and later unaddressed.

I knew she’d been shafted for the entire run and I did enjoy this film but Steve or Clint could have shown up once to provide support. Dammit. I don’t think the film needed those two, at all - but I think Nat did, and it would have been nice to see something that explained why the Avengers are her new family other than the character simply saying it out loud.
posted by annathea at 7:03 PM on July 10 [5 favorites]


Also Florence Pugh is a wonder and I love her performance in this film.
posted by annathea at 7:05 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


Back from the theater, so many thoughts.

* I agree that while I was fairly well into it, I would have been a lot more into it if it wasn't a flashback movie, had a future, and/or if Natasha had been resurrected at the end of it.

* She wasn't a robot though.
Thanks, yes, I did see the movie. Saw her helmet come off and everything. Yep.

I concur that she's .... kind of a robot? Ish? Like maybe she got converted into a mimicking robot with no personality?

* Yeah, the stuff Natasha and Yelena survive in this one should have killed them a billion times over, esp. fall from floating fortress and perpetual outrunning of fireballs, why isn't it a plot point that Widows also get super serum?

* " Milena felt like she went from "Loving but badass mother figure" to "Actually super bought-in with the Red Room dogma and showing off how she can make a pig kill itself" to "Nevermind in with the 'family'" a little too easily."
Agreed, that was confusing, I didn't figure out where it was going until the switcheroo was revealed.

* “This is a much less cool way to die.” "Such a poser."
And making fun of The Pose. And then trying it herself. Both while in a gas station(!) and while on mission. Har.

* POCKETS IN A VEST!!! Women squeeing over pockets, just like real life.

* And, it seems like a small detail, but I absolutely LOVED that all the women had their hair tied back in braids, ponytails, etc. during action scenes. So unusual for action movies, and about time we see practical hair and wardrobe for female characters!

I thought same, but also thought, "Why did Natasha go out for a mission with her hair down but two fancy braids on one side?" And then later she had just a bunch of braids all over the place. Odd.

* I was amused at Alexei being Much Less Famous Russian Version of Captain America. Ludicrous but amusing, somehow. The entire family is kinda like that, really.

* I did think, why the hell would Russians bring kids on a mission? They brought a THREE YEAR OLD on a mission? Yelena was SIX? That seemed way too young for the plot, really. I know they encouraged spies to bone and impregnate on The Americans, but where did they get these two kids to throw in on a mission? Especially if they were intended to go into the Red Room? Also, did Alexei and Milena bone? I fear they did.

Anyway: overall enjoyed but REALLY WISH IT HAD HAPPENED YEARS AGO . I felt kinda obligated to go see it fast in theaters so as to encourage literally any other female led movie to be made again, despite my plot issues.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:09 PM on July 10 [5 favorites]


I liked the film but the amount of physical abuse the leads endured took me out of the movie.

I don't think it's ever said (at least in the MCU), but I just figured that part of the Black Widow process is shooting them up with some modified version of the Super Soldier serum Steve got. Maybe not as strong but good enough so they don't tire/die easily.

And then he goes bragging about the time he fought Captain America. Everyone knows Captain America was still frozen in 1985.

Given what we know from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier I assumed that he did fight Captain America but it was not Steve. It was another Cap.

Also, did Alexei and Milena bone? I fear they did.

They totally did.

I loved it. I was impressed with how they used the opening credits and I really liked the chemistry between the "family". I could see the arguments for it being released sooner but I really wish it had been a two-parter with the first movie set before Endgame and the second after. Anything that could have given us more time with Nat's family and especially her and Yelena.
posted by asteria at 7:24 PM on July 10 [4 favorites]


That fall Nat took in Budapest, with that perfect landing and immediately walking it off like nothing happened, is all the confirmation I need of super soldier serum or some kind of horrible body modifications in the Red Room or something whether Marvel says it's canon or not. It's the kind of thing old school Marvel would have No-Prized an explanation into being off a fan theory on the letters page.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:32 PM on July 10 [11 favorites]


It was in Winter Soldier that I really started to enjoy the character of Black Widow. Her previous outings had shown her to be hyper capable without being cocky, and not someone to be underestimated. One of my favorite parts of Age of Ultron was the realization that she probably stashes guns everywhere. Such an "oh duh" moment, of course she'd do stuff like that.

So it was great to get a whole film about her, one that lays a stronger foundation about her sacrifice in Endgame. But it's such a weird film MCU wise. It wasn't needed per se and it doesn't really tie into the MCU at large. Oh sure, maybe a network of Widows will appear in the future or the Widows were how Nat was holding the fort during the snap, by supplying information? It's so self contained and that's not a bad thing.

Can we talk about the weirdness of long mentioned Budapest background? You know, where Natasha, in order to join SHIELD/come over to the good guys, has to kill a kid? Presumably Hawkeye knew and ok'd this. The film never investigates stuff like, such as the fact Nat and Yelena probably got hundreds of prisoners and guards killed when breaking Red Guardian out. I know it's a Marvel/Disney film (Misney? Darvel?) so it's never going to get too deep as it tugs on our emotions, but daym y'all, let's not be so cavalier about death.

Finally, what's up with Yelena working as an assassin for the Contessa? I know switching careers is hard, but geeze.

I kinda wish Black Widow had been Disney + mini series, say like 3-4 episodes, with a helluva lok more character development and interaction. There a ton of dynamics in Nat's "family" and few minutes to touch on them didn't do that justice.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:34 PM on July 10 [4 favorites]


I kinda wish they were all miniseries from here on out, rewatching the movies after Endgame it's really frustrating how abbreviated everyone's stories have to be and the breathing room the D+ series has been giving people is fantastic. Feels paced like comics miniseries. I get the realities of the business and why they can't just keep doing those instead of movies, but I wish they could.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:43 PM on July 10 [11 favorites]


The movie set up something interesting but failed to pay it off.

What red does she have in her ledger? She murdered a child! Deliberately! Called it collateral damage! Ever since the first Avengers movie, remorse and trying, impossibly, to make amends for the wrongs she's done is what's most distinctive about Black Widow. Starting the film with something so unforgivable was a bold choice. I wanted to see how they could possibly resolve that.

This ended up being a movie where grudges don't fester, where psychological trauma can be cured with red mist, and where saying sorry is enough. I suppose I wanted to see a failed attempt at redemption, not least because it would have laid the groundwork for an interesting sequel.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:48 PM on July 10 [3 favorites]


So we actually went to the theater which was very understaffed and had the a/c way too high so that affected my enjoyment slightly.

But I agree that this character is way underutilized, and I felt like Filoni and the writers had decided to use Pugh as a way to get around that. I had never connected much to BW as a character, but found this pretty effecting. And so MANY women doing badass action shit onscreen is just a rush regardless.

So it disappointed me that it wasn't Nick Fury approaching her at the end. I don't want her to be in the Slightly Shady Avengers Knockoffs. I want her to be a good guy who kicks ass.
posted by emjaybee at 9:55 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


For everyone who saw it in the theaters: were there end titles? I saw it on D+ last night, and it bugged me that we went straight to the production credits without the fancy animated end titles like in every other MCU movie.
posted by RakDaddy at 10:16 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


The opening credits are astoundingly good, almost all the BW exposition you need without watching a single MCU movie previously.
posted by M Edward at 10:31 PM on July 10


No fancy end titles, just a post-credits scene. (I had to pee SO BAD by then.....I haven't had to hold it through a show in over a year.)
I forgot to mention that I would have liked an Avenger cameo in here. Hawkeye at LEAST. I'm not a superfan of his, but it would have fit.

I kinda wish they were all miniseries from here on out, rewatching the movies after Endgame it's really frustrating how abbreviated everyone's stories have to be and the breathing room the D+ series has been giving people is fantastic.

I agree. I am VASTLY more into TV shows than movies. Movies are expensive, they're only about 2 hours of plot and then you wait another three years for the sequel, I have to sit still in the dark (not my idea of fun) and pay for the privilege of doing that....I went back to the theaters for this one and man, I didn't miss going to theaters physically. I just do them for MCU movies because otherwise I can't go talk to other geeks again until I've seen the darned things. Also I use my mom's D+ account and she wasn't into the idea of paying $30 to rent at home :p

In all honesty, why I like the MCU is that they are generally *kind of* an entire series, rather than total one-offs.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:40 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


I'm kinda bummed that the Taskmaster series isn't canon, but it's entertaining anyway. /s
posted by Pronoiac at 11:56 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


I kinda wish they were all miniseries from here on out, rewatching the movies after Endgame it's really frustrating how abbreviated everyone's stories have to be and the breathing room the D+ series has been giving people is fantastic.

At least 50% of my enjoyment of seeing this was that I could see it in a theater. Watching movies on a home TV still doesn't cut it for me.
posted by octothorpe at 5:12 AM on July 11


At least 50% of my enjoyment of seeing this was that I could see it in a theater. Watching movies on a home TV still doesn't cut it for me.

Two theatre tickets cost me $35 total. Sure, it had the comfy seats that you lie back in, but the Disney+ option was only $30.

So anyway, the wife wasn't feeling well, so opted out. So after getting a refund for her ticket, I spent $18 for a medium popcorn, drink, and pack of twizzlers. Which I don't regret, it was great to be eating movie snacks in a real theatre after a year away!

But for $30 I could have stayed home, wife could have seen it and I could have had much cheaper and better snacks (hello air fryer), in a literally healthier situation.

For me, Imma have to seriously reconsider going to an actual theatre.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:11 AM on July 11 [4 favorites]


I've been watching TV at home for 16 months. It was worth the $14 for the XD ticket.
posted by octothorpe at 7:23 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Been trying to think up what the MCU might have looked like, had they decided to actually develop this character to her potential, and here's how I see that variant universe going:

Iron Man 2 - Black Widow is hardly in this one. Instead, we mostly see Natasha, infiltrating Stark Industries, manipulating Tony, and feeding information to Whiplash. We only see Black Widow at the moment where her plan comes together, and she hits Tony with a devastating act of corporate espionage, then gets away clean. That's right! If want to do a redemption arc, then let's bring Widow in like the comics did - as a villain!

Avengers - Hearing that someone is making a move against SHIELD, Widow looks into the job, but something seems off. She brings along friend and dirtbag mercenary Hawkeye to watch her back at the meet with Loki, then immediately regrets it when the mad god dominates his mind. Natasha's Red Room conditioning however, and the subsequent work she did to overcome it, leave her immune to Loki's scepter. Loki doesn't realize this, allowing Natasha to stay on the inside long enough to figure out how to stop him. When she escapes, she is forced to leave Hawkeye behind. When she reveals what she has learned to the newly formed Avengers, none are more reluctant to trust her than Iron Man, who is certain it's a trap. Natasha doesn't care about that, or what happens to her after Loki is stopped, as long as she gets her chance to rescue Hawkeye. In the end, Iron Man chooses to trust what Natasha told him of the Chitauri fleet's weak point and fly the bomb through the wormhole. In a private moment after it's all over, Cap suggests he might be willing to look the other way while the Widow escapes, but she doesn't want to. She turns herself in.

Black Widow 1 - Natasha's first film cuts between her captivity and interrogation at a SHIELD black site, and flashbacks to her actual origins to contrast with whatever story she feeds her jailers. Her as a little girl in Stalingrad during the Great Patriotic War. Her entering the Red Room program, receiving the serums and the training, and her decades of activity as a Soviet superspy. Great mayhem montage opportunities here, and probably some whirlwind tours of 20th century European fashion as the demands of "deep cover" evolve over the Widow's long career. The Winter Soldier appears near the collapse of the Soviet Union, a chilling, terrifying presence that prompts Natasha to discover just how deeply Hydra has infiltrated the collapsing Soviet Union, and begin her defection. Meanwhile, back in the present day, Natasha begins to notice these same signs of Hydra domination within SHIELD, and decides to remain their prisoner long enough to get proof. Once she has it, the film climaxes with her spectacular escape from SHIELD / Hydra captivity.

Captain America: The Winder Soldier: After Cap's own Hydra discovery, escape, and surrender to life on the run, the Widow appears to clue him in to just how much he does not know. Her insights into how the Winter Soldier fights, thinks, and operates allow Steve to both see and reach the Bucky who is still in there. When it's over, Cap refuses to bring Natasha in as a prisoner. He wants to talk to her about the Avengers.

Avengers: Age of Ultron: Largely the same, except Joss Whedon gets laughed out of the room when he suggests the "Natasha Crushes Out on ew, Bruce Fucking Banner, Your Obvious Author Insert" subplot. Geez louise what a gross dude, yikes.

Black Widow 2: For her second film, straight up adapt the Devin Grayon Marvel Knights miniseries, and spend a whole film with just Natasha vs. Yelena / Natasha + Yelena vs. the Red Room.

Avengers: Onslaught - For the second film in the Avengers Endgame Trilogy, we see guilt burdened Natasha struggling to hold the Avengers and by extension, the world together after the snap. Tony has retired, Thor has vanished, Cap is off leading support groups so now it's just the Widow, the Avenger's former prisoner, working her guts out to keep civilization from falling apart with the help of just about anyone she can. Will that include working with people like the ruthless Taskmaster? When Avengers are thin on the ground, the help of a man who can fight like all of them is tempting. Does she have time to run down Ant-Man's mad theories of time travel when the world right in front of her is on fire?

Avengers: Endgame: Natasha sacrifices her life to secure the Soul Stone, and rescue the cosmos from Thanos.

Black Widow 3 - For the third Black Widow film, Yelena Belova begins stepping into the gap that Natasha's death leaves in the world, pulling at the same sorts of impossible threads Natasha would have, taking on the same sorts of lost causes that she did, operating alone and from the shadows. But as Yelena moves deeper into the world of the Widow, she finds things that don't add up. Dead drops and safe houses and caches of files that Natasha never mentioned to her, never mentioned to anyone. Evidence of the sort of backup plans a person might make when they're a 90 year old former Soviet superspy with access to cosmic technology and knowledge of the true power structures of the cosmos. And as Yelena discovers these power structures as well, the question begins to haunt her: if Natasha chose to die within a pocket dimension around an Infinity Gem which she knew was destined to be destroyed, then was dying really the end of her plan? FIND OUT NEXT DECEMBER IN THE BLACK WIDOWS ON DISNEY PLUS!!!
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:40 AM on July 11 [19 favorites]


This is set after CA:Civil War ~2016. If they'd been willing to assume about 12% more risk, the natural time to make and release this movie would've been in ~2014. The implosion of SHIELD (and release of a trove of classified superspy materials) after CA:Winter Soldier was the obvious time for Natasha to realize the Red Room still exists! And if it came out in 2014, they could've hammered harder on the "disposable little girls" theme instead of avoiding it as an embarrassing cliche. Black Widow's release now feels like an ass-covering maneuver -- the only move the studio had available to them once their disinterest in female characters crossed the line from expected to obscene.

That said, I'm an absolute sucker for Florence Pugh as a bratty younger sister. I loved her character and I'm reluctantly really looking forward to seeing more of her. (And I'm a little amused that they retconned an explanation for Natasha's ugly vest from that Avengers movie.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:45 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


Black Widow's release now feels like an ass-covering maneuver -- the only move the studio had available to them once their disinterest in female characters crossed the line from expected to obscene.

To me it very much feels like "we're doing this because the character deserves it and certain people who were preventing it (looking at you Ike) are no longer here, so we're doing it. Yes, it's late, but the character deserves it (and there's money to be made from a female led superhero flick), so we're doing it."

and I'm pleased with that take.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:50 AM on July 11 [7 favorites]


I think that there were always people within Marvel who wanted a Black Widow film and there were probably people who agreed with Perlmutter that a female led MCU film would never do well at the box-office. Considering that this is a big hit so far, I'd say that Permutter and company have been proven wrong. At least superficially, things do seem to have changed at Marvel in the last five years with more women and people of color being hired as directors and show-runners.

Slate had an interesting story about the hysterectomy scene in this film and how the director is pretty specific in it being a retort to the scene in Age of Ultron about Natasha referring to herself as a monster because she can't have children.
posted by octothorpe at 11:05 AM on July 11 [11 favorites]




In 2015, one of the leaked Sony emails revealed an exchange between Perlmutter and former Sony Pictures executive Michael Lynton where Perlmutter rattled off a bunch of female-led superhero movies that flopped—Electra, Catwoman, and Supergirl.

He seems to have missed the point that all three of those were really bad movies. Also that's three movies in thirty years.
posted by octothorpe at 12:39 PM on July 11 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but literally any female movie is bad because a female is leading it, donchaknow. Or if you just want any excuse to not have a female leading a movie, doesn't matter. I did mention that I felt like I'd better pay to see it this weekend or else we'll never get another female-led movie again. The crowd wasn't the usual hordes of geekline at the door here, but then again, pandemic, so I don't know what standards this one is going to be judged on.

That link did explain a lot here.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:39 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed it, and also felt it suffered from being released now instead of five years ago. Some of this discussion also makes me inclined to second guess the decision for her to die in Endgame. It’s definitely a bigger thing than if Hawkeye died, but the character would have been a natural to take over the Nick Fury type string-puller role, even if Johansson was ready to move away from the skin tight catsuit role, as she had said.
posted by snofoam at 6:00 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


“The crowd wasn't the usual hordes of geekline at the door here, but then again, pandemic, so I don't know what standards this one is going to be judged on. “

Box office wise, the movie is doing just fine.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:51 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


Count me among the ones pleased that no other (male) superhero swooped in to save the day. Also faintly surprised; I am positive I had read that this was to be Downey’s last hurrah (as well, Tony is basically the only other Avenger who is not imprisoned, on the run, or off-world at the time).

I think it lacked a certain proper balance between found-family drama and dubious CGI action scenes. All four of the spy family are played by great performers, and dadbod Captain Soviet was a hoot. Still, the whole thing was weirdly off-kilter. As a flashback movie for Natasha, it was indifferent.

As an origin story for Yelena, it could hardly be better.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:34 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


a network of Widows

Can we just agree that an interconnected group of Widows is a web?
posted by The Tensor at 12:15 AM on July 12 [11 favorites]


I don't think it's ever said (at least in the MCU), but I just figured that part of the Black Widow process is shooting them up with some modified version of the Super Soldier serum Steve got. Maybe not as strong but good enough so they don't tire/die easily.

In Marvel's Ultimates comic, which the MCU borrows quite a bit from, Black Widow has "nanotech" stuff in her blood to jack up her reflexes and whatnot. Not quite super soldier, but yeah, gives her more of an edge.

Slate had an interesting story about the hysterectomy scene in this film and how the director is pretty specific in it being a retort to the scene in Age of Ultron about Natasha referring to herself as a monster because she can't have children.

Look, I'm not trying to defend anything Whedon has ever said or done, but am I the only one who understood the context of the line to mean that she is "a monster" because they altered her, both mentally and physically, so she would be a better assassin. She wasn't saying she's a monster because she can't have babies.

Quonab linked the story about the hysterectomy scene above.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:35 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


So I guess I missed something at the very end - at the beginning Nat is on the run from SHIELD for not signing on to the the Sokovia Accords and Secretary Ross is hunting her down to put her in the tank. Yeah ok great fits with my memories of the end of Civil War I think, sure. Honestly if you asked me to remember who was on which sides of that fight it was cap vs tony and er uh everybody else as narratively suited. Nat was originally with Tony until she helped Cap escape and that leads us into her being on the run in Black Widow?

Then the rest of the movie takes place and she reactivates her Avenger homing beacon to alert SHIELD about Dreykov and the Red Room, punch kick crash, SHIELD convoy is coming down the road so mom, dad and Yelena GTFO while Nat accepts that she has to face the music.

2 weeks later, Nat is blond and her fixer has scored her a Quinjet. But in the beginning of Infinity War she's still on Team Cap with Wilson when they save Wanda and Vision and she makes her "hey we all need to come together to fight these new bad guys, let's call a truce" speech to Ross at Avenger's HQ, so clearly she's not back in their good graces yet, right?

So uh.. How'd her fixer get a goddamn _Quinjet_? I mean, the blonde is easy to explain, she finally went back to the ferry for that bottle of l'oreal she left behind, sure.

I've think I've found Loki's timeline tomfoolery easier to just shrug and accept that they're in a bit of a pocket timeline at the moment, and either it'll make sense at the end of it'll just be *jazz hands* multiverse!
posted by Kyol at 8:54 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


(and don't get me wrong, she had a quinjet when she and Cap and Wilson saved Wanda and Viz from Thanos' dudes in IW, so they maybe felt obligated to showing how she had one?)
posted by Kyol at 8:56 AM on July 12


Yeah, Ross isn't the type to just let her walk. I have to wonder if some of the why/how of that scene ended up on the editing room floor.
posted by Fleebnork at 9:07 AM on July 12


And yeah, on the one hand I'm glad they allowed this movie to stand on its own, on the other hand they could've used Clint or Bruce to bridge some of the narrative gaps between Civil War and Infinity War even if they were just "appearing" and not "guest starring".

Honestly I'm sorta with a bit of the lighter consensus - I think I'd have enjoyed it more if this had been released back in 2017 as a bridge between Civil War and Infinity War and not in 2021 as a semi-cynical thing that has a whiff of contractual requirement about it (rightly or wrongly).

Black Widow wasn't bad, but it doesn't really add or reveal anything new either, and since we know where Nat's story is going it was always going to be that way? But if this came out in early 2012, 2013-ish Black Widow: The Red Room - as mostly this story? some of her backstory, some cleaning up the loose ends - and a 2017 Black Widow: SHIELD Are Dicks that works to help her understand how important her new Avengers family are to her, etc that sets her up as the new leader in Tony's absence? Hrm. Like, have Tony or T'Challa or some of the pro-Sokovian Avengers struggling with a problem and have Nat swoop in to save the day, sort of set up a "we're stronger together" story that Civil War dropped into the universe and Infinity War had to rush through responding to? I know, it's easy to armchair quarterback the most successful movie franchise ever a decade after the fact...

But ultimately this sort of felt like rewatching a MCU movie I've already seen before, despite being new, which is a weird feeling. But the viewer sort of knows what the stakes are going to be going in, which is a tough position for the writers.

That all said, Florence Pugh was fantastic, and I can 100% agree with the recommendation to watch The Little Drummer Girl as mentioned above, she was fantastic in that as well.
posted by Kyol at 10:17 AM on July 12


Look, I'm not trying to defend anything Whedon has ever said or done, but am I the only one who understood the context of the line to mean that she is "a monster" because they altered her, both mentally and physically, so she would be a better assassin. She wasn't saying she's a monster because she can't have babies.

Strong agree here. It's extremely Whedon to use sexualized trauma for pathos, and to not recognize the full impact of this sort of scene, so not trying to defend him, but the broader context of that moment is that Natasha is sympathizing with Bruce - who's feeling mopey and alone and guilty and misunderstood because he didn't ask to be Hulk and it can't be undone and being Hulk means that he's carrying around unimaginable remorse that's tied to the thing everyone needs him to keep doing - and she's saying "Hi, my childhood was stolen from me to turn me into a super-assassin with a mile-high body-count that, until joining y'all, didn't even have a defensible higher purpose to it, that process included sterilizing me so that I wouldn't go all Kill Bill on them. You're not as alone as you think, but unlike you, I've got a pragmatic way of constantly looking forwards and playing situations as they are. Try that, maybe?"

Also, the hysterectomy clap-back was maybe the best bit of the movie, and I really liked the movie.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:35 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


Then the rest of the movie takes place and she reactivates her Avenger homing beacon to alert SHIELD about Dreykov and the Red Room, punch kick crash, SHIELD convoy is coming down the road so mom, dad and Yelena GTFO while Nat accepts that she has to face the music.

Yeah, Ross isn't the type to just let her walk.


Well, there isn't really a SHIELD any more, and they arrived not long after the whole thing came down. I thought that she said something about it to her fixer later, but I didn't quite catch that part--it was half past midnight or so at that point for me. The thing is, even if Ross is head Sokovia-Accords-enforcer guy, and even if Russia (which is AFAIK where the Red Room crashed) would let him in with his own guys, I doubt that they'd be too happy about his nosing around the remains of their super-secret assassin program that has agents throughout the entire world.

So, my theory of the moment is that Natasha cut a deal with him before setting the whole plot in motion. He and his guys get whatever they can scrape out of the ruins before the Russians chase them out, the other Widows and Alexei get away, and Nat either gets to scoot away on foot or is "arrested" and detained someplace where it would be trivial for her to get out of. I don't know if she held onto something from the Winter Soldier files that she could use to sweeten the deal; I'm very sure that she wouldn't have given anything up about the existing Widows, but she may have used the existence of the program for leverage in a you-want-me-inside-the-tent-pissing-out-instead-of-vice-versa kind of way.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:24 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


I was trying to figure out how she was going to talk her way out of it when Ross showed up, and I came up with something like:

ROSS: Natasha Romanoff, you're under—
WIDOW: Over there [gestures at fiery wreckage of cloud base] you'll find the remains of the Red Room, which I was in the process of finally tracking down and destroying when you were annoying me earlier in the movie. Thanks for getting her in time for the cleanup, I guess. Little late.
ROSS: Now just a minute!
WIDOW: Yes?
ROSS: You violated the Sokovia Accords!
WIDOW: I did?
ROSS: Yes! [gestures at fiery wreckage of cloud base] You're guilty of unsanctioned super-powering!
WIDOW: I am?
ROSS: YES!!!
WIDOW: Pray tell, which super-power did I use?
ROSS: Uh...well...that thing where you do a three-point landing and flip your hair up...?
WIDOW: ...aaas I was saying, I just brought down [gestures at fiery wreckage of cloud base] a major international child trafficking, assassination, and terrorism ring. So you're welcome. Widow out.
posted by The Tensor at 4:56 PM on July 12 [13 favorites]


Black Widow wasn't bad, but it doesn't really add or reveal anything new either, and since we know where Nat's story is going it was always going to be that way?

For me, it laid foundation for her leading the Avengers during the Blip, because it was the only family she had left or at least the only one she wanted.

That wasn't a huge secret, it's been known that Nat has been trying to redeem herself. But seeing this depth behind that feeling was meaningful to me and my understanding of the character.

but the broader context of that moment is that Natasha is sympathizing with Bruce

Oh yeah, totally agree and didn't have a huge problem with the scene as it was done, though it did awkwardly worded/spoken when I first saw it. But clearly a lot of people, mostly women, absolutely did have a problem with the scene, which in my book means it definitely could have been better written.

I do wish the Hulk/Widow relationship had been explored a bit, even if it would have ended in a similar place. Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson had a subdued and charming chemistry together that would have fun to see, particularly since Banner was one of the few (only) people in the movies that managed to actually surprise her.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:44 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]


So looking at the subs (thanks, scene!):

WIDOW: Here comes the cavalry.
CAVALRY: We're closing in on the target, sir.
MELINDA: So, what's our plan?
WIDOW: You guys go. I'll stay.
ALEXEI: That's insanity. We fight. We fight with you.
WIDOW: I'll hold them off.
ALEXEI: Natasha, we fight.
MELINA: We can't split up. You're so pigheaded.
WIDOW: You guys, go.
YELENA: Oh, my God.
WIDOW: Besides, if it can work out with the four of us, you know, there may be some hope for the Avengers. Little bit.

Also - "Would you stop dropping things on the countryside? That's the whole reason for the Sokovia accords, remember!" (yes yes technically I think they got it going for the incident with Wanda in Lagos, but it's right there in the name, don't go full nerd on me here)

Nothing particularly jumps out in the scene with the fixer - she gives him some shit, he shows her that with a "little bit of time and money" he got her a Quinjet and we get this other bit of "oh right, this is still after civil war, before infinity war" dialog:

FIXER: Where you gonna go?
WIDOW: It's funny. My whole life, I didn't think I had any family.
WIDOW: Turns out I got two, so...
WIDOW: One of them's a bit of a mess right now.
WIDOW: I'm gonna go break a few of them out of prison see if I can't help patch things up.

(FWIW that's Wanda, Scott, Clint and Wilson. ...and then the very end of Civil War has cap breaking into the Raft. sigh Maybe Natasha was flying the Quinjet... yyyeah.)

Which, again, would've been a great sendoff in 2017 AW YEAH WE'RE GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER o/' BOYEEEEEE o/`, (er, especially if you redo the ending of Civil War so it's more ambiguous that half the team is in lockup) but in 2021 ... eh yeah you did and then half of everybody died anyway except 5 years later they didn't - it's complicated, all right?
posted by Kyol at 6:45 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


I went back and rewatched the relevant scenes in CA:CW and A:IW and they were interesting in the context of this. Natasha's last scene in CA:CW is her talking to Tony, who tells her that she's going to be in trouble since T'Challa talked to Ross. In A:IW, Ross is talking to Rhodey when Team Cap shows up after the fight in Edinburgh; he says that they stole the Quinjet. It looks like Ross is talking mostly to Cap when he says, "You got some nerve. I'll give you that", but Nat is the one who answers him: "You could use some of that right now."
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:09 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Women have come so far in genre movies. Now they too can be the starring cast of a mediocre, poorly written movie! Bleah. Wasn't the actors' fault though: Florence Pugh was absolutely great in this. Scarlett Johansson was very good too, even if Pugh upstaged her in every scene. Rachel Weisz and even Olga Kurylenko were good to the extent they were allowed to perform. Shame about the plot though. And the relentless pacing, an action sequence every 7 minutes like clockwork.

Baffling choice to have everyone talk in fake Russian accents for the whole movie. Particularly for Alexei and Melina. Their whole thing was how they went undercover in America for years; why not speak the perfect American accent? Or alternately why not speak Russian with your Russian family who all speak Russian? Instead we get them all hamming it up with the accents.

Apologies to folks who liked this movie, I don't want to spoil your fun. For me the thing that would have made this movie work is to connect the plot to some larger story in the MCU in a more meaningful way. And also to feature the other Widows more, make them part of the story and action all the way through. Give a few of them some meaningful characterization and dialog. Instead we just have flesh-robot-Antonia as the scary enemy and all we know about her is a half-remembered mistake Natasha made.
posted by Nelson at 8:14 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


if anyone is like, huh, the actress playing young natasha really does look like mila jovovich, well, that's her kid. probably the only hollywood choice from the jobbing actor-or-nepotism side that comes prepared with the language codeswitching ability.

all the widows are great, and even with captain soviet, i got something out of that character. i'm definitely looking forward to more yelena. parts of the story feels rote, though if you want to talk about a nothing-mcu movie, my personal low point is still the first doctor strange. and if you want to only limit it to the avengers first five origin movies, this is still miles ahead from the first thor. there're flashes of insight in the character and worldbuilding of this one that still makes it of personal greater enjoyment to me, even if it's in one sense, years too late. (but so natasha is dead, so what? plenty of popular fiction have characters whose final fates we know, but we still enjoy the trip). and what a long deconstruction of a journey it's been from the way the character was presented in iron man 2.

all that said, wow, mcu truly continues to provide the raw materials to perfect that de-aging VFX algorithms huh. there's at least a seminar's worth of content from their movies alone. once i twigged that pre-shield natasha was also deaged, i went back and paid more attention to melina as well.
posted by cendawanita at 9:19 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


I get that the MCU is kind of this huge sprawling thing, and I love all that and how the movies fit together and then the Avengers films are just overstuffed with characters and actors and concepts bouncing off of each other.

But I'm really bummed that they actually made a Black Widow movie that's fun and a huge spectacle and has some great performances and some good writing and really nothing that made me outright cringe--it's a good Marvel comic book movie like I never had growing up, certainly not one starring all these women--and 90% of the comments are about how people don't like the way it is connected to all the other movies.

This kind of thing happens all the time in comic books. Most of the books are all loosely or tightly connected telling stories contemporaneous with each other, but then a book or a series will come out set in the past or unconnected to other current comics and it's mostly just good (or bad) on it's own merits. Sometimes the fact that they're not Chapter X in a never-ending soap opera is what makes them good.
posted by straight at 12:38 AM on July 14 [8 favorites]


Anyway, I loved Natasha out there trying to Black Widow with her little sister at her side giving her grief the way Barton or Rodgers couldn't possibly get under her skin.

I kept guessing wrong about what was going on at the beginning, "Is this supposed to be Nat? No. What are you doing? Natasha Romanov cannot be from Ohio." And having it turn into The Americans was pretty delightful and then seeing that this girl had already spent time in the Red Room was a nice shock.

I liked the switch with her mom (and it was an elegant way to get Natasha back into her black costume for the third act). And her unable to fight back but still taunting that guy and basically interrogating him they way she's done in Avengers. "Thank you for your co-operation."
posted by straight at 1:02 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


I would have liked more character scenes and a TV series sounds like a good idea. But I didn't think any of the writing in Falcon & Winter Soldier or Loki has been nearly as good as the dialogue and banter those characters have had in the movies. We didn't get a whole lot in this movie, but what we got was good. I'm not sure a Marvel TV series can pull that off.
posted by straight at 1:05 AM on July 14


I just watched it for the second time, and I agree that the very last action sequence was pretty incoherent and almost all the action sequences could've used a bit of tightening up, but it broke my heart for Natasha, whom I've always rooted for as an underpowered woman on a team of mostly male blowhards who always stayed self-possessed. Almost all the first-team Avengers have had bad things happen to them, but her trauma was on an entirely different plane, and she never even really told them about it. It's kind of irritating to hear about how this movie is "just stuff we already knew about," when what we "knew" was just pieced-together scraps. (But, yes, this movie should've come out five years ago just for a bigger audience and more Natasha momentum.)
posted by praemunire at 10:05 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Hysterectomy with oophorectomy induces menopause. One of the possible side effects of which is osteoporosis. Yeah, definitely the decidedly non-fragile Widows have got to have something to counteract that— why not some super-soldierish serum?

Mr Nat and I went to see this in a theater. Since we were going Out I wore my new dress, which I specifically bought because it has pockets. Pockets! Pockets are great.
posted by nat at 12:39 AM on July 19 [4 favorites]


I thought it was strange that she mentioned removing the ovaries, as you don't need to do that to make someone infertile and menopause has many effects that would be undesirable for women doing that job.
posted by praemunire at 9:50 AM on July 19


I'm sure she knows how the biology works but has no compunction about exaggerating (or straight-up lying) when grossing a dude out to shame him for a sexist joke.
posted by straight at 10:34 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


it bugged me that we went straight to the production credits without the fancy animated end titles like in every other MCU movie

This really bothered me as well. That thing where you get stylized allusions to the best moments or celebrating each of the characters is often really nifty in its own right (I love the tilt-shifted dioramas at the end of Ant-Man and The Wasp). But it's also a pretty good trick for getting you to like the movie more than you thought you did. I would guess they more than pay for themselves in boosting the immediate word-of-mouth about a movie. And I don't mind at all something that gets me thinking more about the stuff I enjoyed than the stuff I didn't.
posted by straight at 1:37 PM on July 19


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