REVIEW: Black Widow flick adds grit and feeling to the MCU

It’s been a long time coming.

For the Marvel fans who’ve been waiting for Black Widow to have her own standalone movie, it’s finally here! And directed by Australia’s Cate Shortland no less.

I love that for all of us!

For those who aren’t getting their Marvel fix from Loki, WandaVision or The Falcon and The Winter Soldier on Disney+, it’s been quite a while since a Marvel movie has hit the big screen. If my Marvel knowledge serves me well, the last was 2019’s Spiderman: Far from Home.

For everyone else, it’s been a looooong time since we’ve had a real blockbuster at our local cinemas. Yeah, thanks for that COVID.

Sure, we’ve had Oscar darling Nomadland and the best sequel in a few years, A Quiet Place Part II, but I’m talking sold-out cinemas on release day movies. The ones you plan around for weeks in advance. The ones you go to see in Gold Class.

The movie opens with an idyllic picture of small-town America.

Natasha and her sister Yelena are small girls playing gymnastics in their leafy backyard. We even have a mother, Melina (Weisz) kissing the grazed knee of the younger child. However, when dad Alexi (Harbour) arrives home, he informs the family they have one hour to get out.
After a Marvel worthy plane vs gun battle, the family arrive in Cuba to be greeted by head honcho villain type Dreykov (Winstone). The girls are then drugged, taken away from their parents and the movie fast forwards to a grown Natasha (Johansson) just after the Avengers broke up. (NB: the movie takes place just after 2016’s Captain America: Civil War)

Should I watch it?

This is an origin movie without being an origin movie. One of the things Marvel movies do best is they make their characters human and relatable. Sure they’re Avengers and cool AF, but they also have loves, lives and limits.

We delve into Natasha’s background and the family dynamics that make her who she is, as well as who she isn’t. The gentle teasing between sisters is relatable to anyone who has siblings.

That they resolve their issues with knife fights and gun battles is (hopefully) a point of difference to our own families. When the girls rescue their father from what seems to be a Siberian prison where he holds court as the prison tough guy, it’s a thing of beauty.

I won’t write too much as it will give it all away. Needless to say, the action is intense, the battles are long, bloody and clever and the script is spot on.

I suspect the female direction gives the movie its dark soul. Those familiar with Shortland’s previous works, especially 2004’s Somersault, which catapulted local girl Abbie Cornish towards Hollywood stardom, and 2017’s Berlin Syndrome, Shortland knows how to take the viewer on a journey. Looking into the murky depths of a broken woman’s soul is perhaps deeper, darker and more powerful than you would imagine.

And Black Widows are broken women.

Black Widow is an absolute must-see. A kick-arse woman who takes on the patriarchy. And you might just be surprised by how moving you’ll find it all too.

Marvel peeps – you’ll need to wait till the very end. The lights coming up very end. You’ve been warned.

4 ½ stars

Running Time: 133 minutes
Release Date: In cinemas now
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, O-T Fagbenle, Ray Winstone

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