Black Widow (AU - M/UK - 12A/US - PG-13)

In A Word: Death-defying

Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson stars as Natasha Romanov and Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova in Black Widow.   PICTURE: Jay Maidment © Marvel Studios 2020. All Rights Reserved.

The first film in phase four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was originally set to release in May, 2020. Now, more than a year later, Black Widow has been unleashed, complete with all the high-kicking and back-flipping we have come to expect from this super spy.

Set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Black Widow sees Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) reunited with her long-lost “sister” Yelena Belova (played by Florence Pugh of Fighting With My Family, Midsommar, Little Women). Together they are compelled to hunt down the elusive General Dreykov who has created an army of mind controlled assassins known as the Widows. To complete their mission, the sisters must seek out their de facto parents: the washed up super-soldier Red Guardian (David Harbour) and the brilliant scientist Melina (Rachel Weisz). This dysfunctional family reunion injects much needed humour and heart in this otherwise ordinary tale of revenge and redemption.

"Black Widow is the first standalone superhero film in the MCU to feature a hero without any supernatural superpowers. She has managed to keep up with the Avengers with her wits, charm, martial arts and array of high-tech spy gadgets. There was a deliberate decision not to feature any of the other Avengers here - in fact, scenes with Tony Stark were deliberately cut to ensure that the Black Widow could stand alone without the need for external help."

Black Widow is the first standalone superhero film in the MCU to feature a hero without any supernatural superpowers. She has managed to keep up with the Avengers with her wits, charm, martial arts and array of high-tech spy gadgets. There was a deliberate decision not to feature any of the other Avengers here - in fact, scenes with Tony Stark were deliberately cut to ensure that the Black Widow could stand alone without the need for external help.

What could have been the most “realistic” film in the MCU, however, chooses action sequences that continually defy the laws of physics. Whether it be car chases, helicopter stunts, pyrotechnics or falls from great heights, there is a massive suspension of disbelief required to accept that any human could survive even just a few minutes of the fighting. The action feel like a mash up of Mission Impossible and The Fast and The Furious with the female empowerment of Little Women.

The real sparks fly in the scenes between Natasha and Yelena. The banter between the estranged sisters provide some of the most memorable scenes, particularly Yelena’s mocking of Black Widow’s trademark fighting pose. Pugh does a commendable job bringing just the right mix of vulnerability and toughness to her role as the film tackles the complex task of both being a final send off for Johansson while introducing Pugh as the new face of Black Widow. Be sure to stay after the credits for an extra scene that teases the next MCU TV series, Hawkeye, in which Yelena’s journey will continue.

The film features thinly veiled themes involving redemption, sisterhood and what it means to be a family. Any deeper meaning, however, is lost in the whirlwind of spectacle. Black Widow may not be the best that the MCU has to offer, but it is a fine enough farewell for Johansson and an intriguing beginning for Pugh as she dons the mantle Natasha Romanoff leaves behind.