Scarlett Johansson and Marvel had before them a remarkable challenge, and that, in all sense, was left in the hands of a character who had been in the MCU almost from its beginnings. That superheroic mission consisted of starting with Phase 4 and continuing the franchise after the explosion of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (and after the interlude of ‘Spider-Man: Far from home’). And then came the pandemic.
The film, scheduled to be released on May 1, 2020 (approximately one year after the premiere of ‘Endgame’) Thus began an escalation of delays that have ended up leading to this final July 9, 2021, in which it can be seen in theaters and on Disney + under a premium rate. The expectation, then, is tremendous doubly: delay of more than a year and return to the MCU in feature film format, before new heroes such as Shang-Chi or Los Eternos, from the other two films, enter the shared Marvel universe. planned by Disney for this year.
Before the plans have been modified on the fly, and we have seen in Disney + series such as ‘Wandavision’, ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ or ‘Loki’, which They have completed the mission initially planned for ‘Black Widow’: send us to Phase 4 using already known heroes (in these cases, also from the circle closest to the first Avengers) as a springboard. That does not detract from the character of an event from ‘Black Widow’, but it is clear that, after productions of a certain formal audacity such as ‘Wandavision’, they diminish some impact capacity.
However, the findings of ‘Black Widow’ do not come from its spectacularity, but from the opposite: They are in the elements coming from genres that are far from blockbuster, or details that we do not necessarily associate with superhero cinema. ‘Black Widow’ works well as an MCU movie, but it works better, like so many of its companions (‘Ant-Man’, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, ‘Doctor Strange’), when it forgets about commitments.
‘Totally Spies!’ By Marvel
‘Black Widow’ is close to the approach of ‘Loki’ in the sense that it does not continue where Phase 3 of the MCU left off (that is, the story continues), but fills in gaps that were left untold: in this case, after from ‘Civil War’, with Natasha on the run from the law and splinter Avengers. That’s when discovers that what she believed to be a buried past in the service of the Soviet government is not quite so, and after reuniting with his sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) he also contacted a couple of unique father figures, Red Guardian (David Harbor) and Melina (Rachel Weisz).
It is in that part of reunion where the film finds an identity to differentiate itself from the rest of the Avengers films, not so much in the emotional and nostalgic – which is also there and to everyone’s relief, it does not burden – but in the sympathetic comedy dynamics that occurs in this dysfunctional family, thanks to the not very cartoonish irony that the four actors inject to their characters. Especially sweet is Natasha and Yelena’s relationship: at this point in her career it is no surprise that Florence Pugh comes with a brilliant performance under her arm, but the humor and humanity that she brings to her relationship with the female lead is stupendous.
Otherwise, everything you can expect from a Marvel production that is not directed by an author with a strong personality like James Gunn or Taika Waititi: very chewy and competent action scenes, with some very brilliant specific moment in the final climax; well-defined and memorable characters in some cases – like that most stubborn Harbor-; a villain, The Supervisor, utterly wasted and with a terrible costume redesign; the inevitable continuity tolls with the rest of the MCU that sometimes slow down the plot but will delight hardcore fans …
‘Black Widow’ is a very competent and somewhat conservative return to the canon of the MCU, leaving aside the slight experimentation of the Disney + series and that will undoubtedly warm the hearts of fans by taking them to places where they are very comfortable. The clever layer of class and originality is set by references to the spy movies of the seventies and the chemistry between the actors, but it is clear that by now, and despite its indisputable findings, the MCU is most of the time a treehouse where risk and innovation have been reduced almost to irrelevance.