‘Black Widow’ – A Family Affair

Marvel is back in business with its latest blockbuster, “Black Widow.” “Black Widow” finally gives the solo film treatment to the Avenger’s super spy and prominent female superhero in this prequel that explores her origin story.

Pro – Exciting

“Black Widow” is a hard hero to fit in. Being a super-spy and master of martial arts is impressive, unless you are on a team containing a Norse god, a super solider, a tech genius in a super robot suit, and a green rage monster. With that in mind, it’s nice to see “Black Widow” get her own film that can set the villains and stakes at a level commensurate with her powers.

What follows is an exciting movie. “Black Widow” explores the origins of the hero while pushing forward a plot that, while not perfect, is quite serviceable. The fighting scenes are intense and enjoyable. Black Widow gets a chance to showcase her moves and some of her signature tech (widow’s bite) throughout the film, and the focus provided Scarlett Johansson’s character is deserved and fun. The film feels more “Jason Bourne” than “War of Worlds,” and that’s a welcome breath of fresh air.

Pro – Fun

Ultimately, Marvel Cinematic Universe films are meant to be fun. It’s an impressive franchise with an insane batting average that succeeds by combining mind-bending action set-pieces and witty, optimistic fun. MCU films are never afraid of breaking up the fate of the world with a joke or a nod to the audience. It’s been a winning formula. “Black Widow” continues this.

“Black Widow” is an origin story focused on reckoning with Natasha Romanoff’s past, which allows the audience to come along to discover said past. At the heart of the film is the relationship between Romanoff and her sister, Yelena, played wonderfully by Florence Pugh. The reunification of these sisters is the heart and soul of the film. Further, the movie delights with it’s humor, much of which is delivered with a wink and a nod to the audience about some of the mishandlings of the Avengers female stars over the last 10 years.

Neutral – by the numbers

“Black Widow” has a great cast, plenty of action, and classic Marvel wit. That said, it feels standard. It’s unlikely anyone will leave the theater feeling like they’ve just seen something transformative. It’s entertaining, but it’s not art. It also felt a bit like the director didn’t quite trust her film was “Marvel” enough, and so for some unknown reason everything starts blowing up at the end. It also does nothing to set-up the next phase of Marvel films, especially after its criminal handling of the Taskmaster. That said, we can always hope Red Guardian finds a way to show up again.

“Black Widow” is a standard Marvel movie. On the balance, that’s a great thing. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it has depth and humor. It’s not the best offering the MCU has put out, but it’s middle of the road for a franchise that keeps putting out quality films. It’s nice to see Natasha Romanoff get some solo screen time, and the cast of characters built around her is awesome with one glaring exception. If you’ve been looking for a reason to go back to the theater, I suggest zip-lining over to the Fridley Palms Theatre and giving this movie a watch!