Black Widow Review (with Spoilers)

Black Widow movie posterMy son and I went out with a couple of friends last weekend to see Black Widow. First movie in a theater in well over a year.

The short review: I liked it. Fun, fast-paced, with lots of action and some humor. And it’s well past time Black Widow got her own movie.

Spoilers ahoy!

This felt a little smaller than some of the recent Marvel movies. There are no universe-threatening villains, no collapsing timelines, no magic or spaceships. And that works. It was almost refreshing, to be honest. It’s nice to not feel like we’re constantly trying to top the last spectacle.

We finally get to see more of Black Widow’s past, starting with a deep cover assignment when she was just a kid with her family, living in Ohio. The family dynamics were my favorite part of the movie. I loved that they all have some level of the same “real vs. fake” struggle we’ve seen with Natasha all along, and the actors do a wonderful job with it.

I particularly loved David Harbour’s take on Red Guardian, aka Natasha’s fake father. He dove into his character, growling and chewing scenery and being a clueless super soldier dad. The best parts were when the whole family came together, whether it was over a meal or working to take down (literally) the Red Room.

Then there’s Yelena, the younger sister. She was the most invested in their family, insisting it was real for her even as the others deny it. So it’s fitting that she’s the one who started the whole reunion into motion. And I loved watching her banter with her sister and call out Black Widow’s habit of posing.

Melina didn’t work quite as well for me. I think in part it’s because we didn’t see as much of her. Unlike Red Guardian, who’d been stuck in jail, Melina spent many years doing some Pretty Evil Crap. Despite her redemption bit at the end, it didn’t feel as believable or as earned.

The movie’s set after the events of Civil War, and I wish it had come out back then. The stakes didn’t feel as high, because we knew nothing would really change in the larger Marvel universe. Except maybe for that credits scene, where Yelena and her dog visit Natasha’s grave (which was beautiful), and we discover Yelena has been working for the Countess, who assigns her to go kill Hawkeye.

I know we’re setting up the Hawkeye series with this, but it felt…off. After all the good Yelena’s done, how does she end up working for a villain? And why would she accept an assignment to go after Natasha’s best friend without even asking any questions? Maybe the Hawkeye series will explain that better.

Thematically, I really liked the ending, and having all of the Widows come together to take care of each other–even Taskmaster–and to go after the deep-cover Widows that are still out there.

I know there have been complaints about Taskmaster’s character being 1) untrue to the comics and 2) a woman, but I thought it fit really well into the movie.

All in all, a fun movie. Some fun lines, entertaining (if a bit over-the-top) action, and good characters. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing more of Red Guardian and Yelena.

What did the rest of you think?