Black Widow - Spoiler Review

 One of the most anticipated films from 2020 has finally been  released, Black Widow is now available to watch.  Black Widow was delayed several times since its original release date in 2020, but the pandemic has caused Disney to shift a lot of their films.  Black Widow was given a theatrical release, but it was also made available through Disney Plus as an on-demand movie.  Theatres, where I am, are still closed, so I did the premiere access on Disney Plus to watch Black Widow.  After what happened to Natasha in Avengers: Endgame I thought it was a weird decision to give her a solo movie after the character was killed off in the current timeline.  Natasha was one of two main characters that were killed off in Endgame, there were more, but only two have stayed dead (Black Widow and Iron Man). While two others (Loki and Gamora) have a different version from an earlier in the timeline still running around.  I was hoping that Black Widow would not reverse Natasha's death and pay tribute to her character by giving fans a better idea of her history and who she was.  I don't think I learned anything more about Natasha besides her having a fake family.  I think this film would have been more impressive had it come out after Captain America: Civil War rather than after Black Widow was killed off.  Had Black Widow been released after Civil War, Natasha would have still been the star of the film.  In Black Widow I feel Natasha is sharing the screen with her replacement Florence Pugh, and as much as Pugh is amazing her presence takes away from Natasha's story.  

I also need to briefly touch on the subject of Scarlett Johansson's lawsuit against Disney, Johansson says Disney's decision to release Black Widow on Disney Plus at the same time as theatres is a breach of her contract.  Disney's decision to put Black Widow on Disney Plus have no doubt hurt the box office returns for the film.  Scarlett Johansson was set to receive a percentage of the box office returns and since they will likely be lower than expected she is saying that Disney breached their contractual obligation to her.  It is unfortunate that this has happened, it distracts from the film, and it is causing a rift between Johansson and the MCU.  I understand both sides of the argument, Disney's release strategy was not meant to cause Johansson to lose out on income, but it will, and I can understand her frustration.  This is likely going to hurt any chance that we ever see Scarlett Johansson again as Natasha, especially if Disney fights this.  


The film starts with a flashback to an undercover spy mission that was Natasha was on as a child.  Natasha, her fake sister Yelena, her fake mother Melina (Rachel Weisz) and her fake dad Alexei (David Harbour).  Alexei is the first and only Russian super soldier, but on this mission his cover is working at a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. facility (that is really a HYDRA facility).  Alexei is supposed to steal some secrets on mind control and then destroy the facility.  Melina we learn later is the brains behind the mission, but we see this fake family struggle and fight to escape.  When they make it to Cuba, the family is separated, Melina is getting medical treatment and Yelena and Natasha are sedated and taken by Dreykov who runs the Red Room.  We jump forward and join Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) as she is on the run from Secretary Ross (William Hurt).  We see Yelena (Florence Pugh) on a mission, she kills her target but is exposed to a gas and after she is remorseful for the kill.  Yelena removes her tracker chip and takes the remaining vials of the gas which seemed to bring her to her senses.  Natasha makes her way to Norway where she meets her ally Mason (O-T Fagbenle) who has procured her a new identity and the trailer she will be living in.  Mason has brought her stuff from another safe house Natasha used in Budapest.  Dreykov is alerted to the fact that one of the widows (Yelena) has deserted, and so Dreykov activates the Taskmaster protocol.  Natasha's trailer runs out of gas and so she must go to town to get more fuel, on the way she is attacked by Taskmaster.  Taskmaster is more than a worthy opponent for Natasha, but she notices that Taskmaster is not there for her.  Taskmaster goes for a case that was in Natasha's trunk, the case was one of the things that Mason had brought from Budapest.  The case it is revealed to contain the gas, so Natasha distracts Taskmaster so she can get the gas and escape.  

Natasha is in Budapest and is returning to her old safe house, Yelena is staying there and the two of them engage in a surprisingly brutal fight.  The fight ends when they are both using the same curtain to strangle each other.  The sisters talk and Natasha learns that the Red Room is still active, Natasha tells Yelena that her defection to S.H.I.E.L.D. involved her killing Dreykov.  Natasha failed to kill Dreykov, but succeeded in killing his daughter, and as a result of the attempt on his life he made the Red Room more formidable and secretive.  There is some tension when Yelena asks why Natasha never tried to look for her, Natasha obviously has some guilt over that.  The Widows arrive and the sisters are forced to flee, on their escape Natasha encounters a Widow who kills herself (at the command of Dreykov).  The sisters are fleeing on a motorcycle, but they are being chased by the Widows and Task Master.  Yelena takes control and takes out a Widow, but Taskmaster disables their vehicle, and they are left in the subway.  Natasha reveals that on her mission to join S.H.I.E.L.D. her and Clint Barton (Hawkeye) hid in that subway station's ducts after the bombing that killed Dreykov's daughter.  Natasha and Yelena hide out in the same ducts, they then come up with a plan to locate the Red Room and kill Dreykov once and for all.

Finding the Red Room is the problem, since Natasha tried to kill Dreykov he has moved the Red Room and when Widows are brought there, they are sedated first.  Natasha and Yelena decided they need to find Alexei, Alexei and Dreykov were close, and they figure Alexei would know where the Red Room is.  Alexei is in a prison and arm wrestling anybody who wants a chance to beat him (they can't), he gets a package, and it is a Red Guardian toy.  The head pops off and inside the head is an earpiece which allows Natasha and Yelena to give Alexei instructions to escape the prison.  The escape is chaotic as Natasha is forced to get off the helicopter to help Alexei, the ensuing battle causes an avalanche, and they barely escape.  Alexei is happy to be reunited with his "daughters", but they are not happy to see him.  Alexei reveals that he and Dreykov had a falling out that ended with Alexei being imprisoned and having no idea how to locate the Red Room.  Alexei suggests the girls track down their "mother" who was closer to Dreykov than he was.  They go to see Melina who is still working for Dreykov, Melina created the mind control method used on the Widows, and she is doing further work on new methods with pigs.  The family has a meal and continue to bond, but after the meal Dreykov's men show up take down Alexei.  Yelena is still fighting but Melina sedates her, and we see Melina has also sedated Natasha.  The family is taken to the Red Room which is a flying fortress; Natasha, Yelena and Alexei are imprisoned while Melina goes to meet with Dreykov.  

Dreykov, is living like a shut-in.  Dreykov and Melina engage in small talk with Dreykov saying he will cut out Yelena's brain and study it to figure out how to make the gas useless against the other Widows.  Dreykov though reveals that he knows Melina is actually Natasha in disguise, the real Melina is in disguise as Natasha.  The real Melina using her knowledge of the Red Room is able to get herself and Alexei free, Melina tells Yelena that put a small blade in her pocket.  Yelena uses the blade to remove her restraints and take out the medical staff that was about to cut her brain out.  Melina reveals that the plan is for her to cause the Red Room to descend to the ground while Natasha is given the task of taking out Dreykov.   Dreykov reveals that Taskmaster is actually his daughter Antonia, she wasn't killed in the bombing but rather seriously injured.  Dreykov saved Antonia and turned her into his ultimate weapon, Dreykov fully controls Antonia now.  Natasha tries to shoot Dreykov, but she can't as Dreykov has a surprise for her, he has the Widows implanted with a programming that prevents them from attacking him if they can smell his pheromones.  Taskmaster is after them, so Alexei will fight Taskmaster so Melina can carry on her part of the mission.

Natasha keeps insulting Dreykov, she keeps minimalizing his achievements until he starts to hit her, but Natasha wants him to hit her.  Melina told Natasha about the pheromones, so Natasha plans to break her nose to prevent her from smelling Dreykov's pheromones.  Dreykov did not hit her hard enough, so she has to finish the job of severing the nerve, she bashes her head into his desk.  Melina could not program the Red Room to descend so she disabled it so now the Red Room will fall back to the ground.  Taskmaster is beating Alexei, but Melina arrives and takes Taskmaster out by throwing her into a cell and locking her inside.  Dreykov is saved by Widows who arrive and allow him to escape while they attack Natasha.  Natasha exposes the Widows to the gas, and they become removed from Dreykov's control, they need to get off the Red Room before it crashes to the ground.  Natasha stays behind to take the information from Dreykov's computer, Natasha sees Taskmaster stuck in a cell, so Natasha frees Taskmaster.  Immediately upon release Taskmaster attacks Natasha, but the Red Room is falling apart as it falls, and Natasha is saved by an explosion.  Dreykov is getting away on plane, but Yelena jumps on top of the plane and throws her batons into the engine causing an explosion that kills Dreykov.  Yelena is falling to the ground so Natasha jumps taking a parachute with her, and she catches Yelena and straps her into the chute and pulls the cord.  Natasha lets go and free falls herself because Taskmaster is after her, but as they tangle in the air Taskmaster must pull the chute.  They land safely and continue to fight; Natasha is able to remove Taskmaster's mask and then she uses the gas to free Antonia of the mind control.  

The Widows escaped on a plane with Alexei and Melina, Yelena is okay too.  The family reunites, but Secretary Ross and his men are arriving on the scene.  Natasha tells the family to go, she will deal with Ross.  Natasha gives Yelena the last vial of the gas and the information she took out of Dreykov's computer.  The information contains other Widows around the world who are still under Dreykov's control, Yelena is to save the other Widows.  The family, the Widows and Antonia take off and escape before Ross gets there.  Natasha is standing alone as the vehicles approach; we see that it is now two weeks later and Natasha is free.  Natasha meets up with Mason who has procured a quinjet for her which she will use to free Sam and Wanda from the raft with Captain America's help.  The quinjet takes off and flies away as credits roll.  There is one post credits scene which takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame.  Yelena is standing at Natasha's grave, and she is joined by Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (once again played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus).  Yelena has been working with Valentina and her newest mission is take down Hawkeye who Valentina says is responsible for Natasha's death (setting up the Hawkeye Disney plus series).


I did a series of articles where I ranked the MCU films and upon viewing Black Widow a few more times I am not sure where I would rank it.  I enjoyed the film and I found it very entertaining, but the issues I had with the film are hard to ignore.  The MCU now has 24 films and three Disney Plus series, and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to rank all of the material.  This is a complaint that I am happing to be talking, having too much content is not a problem, especially when it is all high quality and at the very least entertaining.  There is not a single film to series that I would say is bad, Wonder Woman 84 and Justice League (the Whedon version) are bad.  I might not be the biggest fan of The Incredible Hulk, but the film is better than the two DC films I mentioned above.  I should be clear I wanted to like Wonder Woman 84, the cast was great, but the story choices did not land at all for me.  The first Wonder Woman film is one of my favourite comic book films, and I felt that the sequel was not as enjoyable.  Black Widow was a film I wanted since the first Avengers film, but Marvel kept dragging their feet.  Black Widow felt like an origin film for Yelena rather than a film about Natasha, we know Natasha's fate and I did not think the film tied into her choice in Endgame at all.  That might be my biggest fault, Natasha's choice in Endgame to let Clint live and sacrifice herself instead makes no sense after watching Black Widow.  Natasha's decision makes less sense after watching Black Widow, she did have a family and she still sacrificed herself.  Kevin Feige has said that we will learn if Yelena was snapped, likely during the Hawkeye series (my thought not Feige's).  If Yelena was snapped that would make sense why Natasha seemed so alone in Endgame, but it still does not explain why she was so willing to sacrifice herself.  Before Black Widow came out I assumed that her "family" would die, and that would explain why she couldn't let Clint kill himself as he still had a family.  I feel the Black Widow script was written before Endgame came out, and they decided not make changes to make the film explain why Natasha was willing to sacrifice herself.  

Natasha's decision while powerful has become even more baffling after the release of Black Widow, because I cannot seem to understand how they messed up this up.  I cannot go more into beyond that I do not get how they made this film and never thought to include a scene that might explain why she felt she needed to be the one who died.  My next biggest issue was Taskmaster, I have no issue that Antonia was revealed to be Taskmaster.  I don't care whether Taskmaster was a man or a woman, but in the comics Taskmaster had a personality and Marvel turned Taskmaster into a robot.  The MCU has had a villain problem and Black Widow continues that trend.  They didn't need to make Taskmaster a mindless goon, which was a choice that gave the main antagonist no personality and it made me not care.  I know the real villain was meant to be Dreykov, but they could have had Antonia under his mind control and still showing a personality.  We spent so little time with Dreykov that we needed to hate someone else, and a robotic non-verbal Taskmaster was boring.  Another smaller issue I had with Taskmaster was that they hired a male actor to portray the character, why not have a female stunt performer do the mask on scenes.  The character had the height and build of a man, and when the helmet came off and Antonia was revealed she look weird.  I think Marvel dropped the ball on Taskmaster, in the comics Taskmaster is a lot of fun and they turned fun into boring.  

My last nitpick of the film is about Natasha not really having an arc in the film, she did not seem to change from the end of Civil War to her final moments in Endgame.  Black Widow feels more like a set up for more MCU appearances by Alexei, Melina, Taskmaster (Antonia) and Yelena (the new Black Widow).  I thought we might see more of Natasha's past and learn more about why she joined S.H.I.E.L.D.  The film did show Natasha constantly putting herself in danger to save others, which does sort of lead into her choice in Endgame.  Natasha was like this before, and it was not something solely done in the film.  The film did do a good of job of showing how Natasha and Yelena had a hard time letting go of their past.  Natasha turned her back on her "family" when she joined S.H.I.E.L.D., but by the end of Black Widow we see that she loves them.  Natasha was previously running from her past and Black Widow made her face it and make peace with it.  I don't believe Natasha ever stopped caring about her "family", but she put on an air of indifference towards Milena and Alexei at first.  My issue was that Natasha never felt like the most interesting character in her own film, almost everyone else in the film seemed more interesting to me.  Black Widow felt more like an origin story Yelena taking on the mantle of Black Widow going forward then it was about Natasha.  The cast was fantastic, and I do really hope we see more of Alexei, Milena and Mason.  I know for a fact we will see more of Yelena as she is confirmed to appear in the Hawkeye series for Disney Plus.  

Black Widow is not all bad, I mentioned I really enjoyed the performances by the cast, and I thought the action was great.  I know my complaints make it seem like I hated the film, but my issues with the film are my issues.  I do think MCU fans will enjoy Black Widow, and I think casual movie fans will enjoy the film too.  The banter between the "family" members was always funny and the group had great chemistry together.  I know people who are big fans of the MCU like me that really liked the film, which tells me that my issues with the film are mainly my issues.  I would recommend Black Widow just because it is a good film, but like Wonder Woman 84 I disagreed with some of the choices.  I also appreciated how the film shone a light on Dreykov's subjugation of women, he took them from a young age and removed their free will.  That is an issue that still happens today, and it is not okay for this to still happen to anybody.  If I had to rank Black Widow, I think I would put between 16 and 18 on the list, I like it, but it is more toward the back of the MCU rather than the top.  I would give Black Widow a 7/10, it is a fun film that is entertaining, but it fumbles on the villain and delivering on a film about Natasha.  

I hope you enjoy the review and let me know your thoughts on the film.  I will be seeing The Suicide Squad later today so look for a review in the next few days.  Thank you for reading and stayed tuned for more MCU content.  

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