Being a rookie when it comes to the Marvel Universe (I have not seen any of the Avengers films…can you believe it?!?) I came into this one pretty much a fresh canvas. No preconceived biases or soft spots for any of the characters. I don’t know any of the stories, how they have developed, etc. Nor any of the characters’ backstories. Good? Bad? Who knows. But I dove into the superhero world with Black Widow.
Interesting that the film is called Black Widow and yet the character who makes the biggest impression is her younger sister – Yelena. The estranged younger sister who is also a Widow. A short backstory of the two sisters when they were young, living with their parents in suburban Ohio and then one night Dad came home and told Mom they had an hour to get out. Everything changes from that point on. Both Natasha and Yelena’s lives would become what they never could have imagined. Apart from their parents and each other.
Natasha (Scarlett Johansson – Lost in Translation, Her)….well, she finds another family in a group of superheroes called The Avengers and becomes known as the Black Widow. After some years and some “stuff” Natasha now finds herself on her own. While in Norway trying to disappear her past comes roaring back. Her past in the form of her little sister.
Yelena (Florence Pugh – Midsommar, Lady Macbeth) has undergone a form of mind control at the hands of Russian baddie Dreykov (Ray Winstone – The Departed, Cold Mountain). She is now one of the many Widows he has working around the globe. Able to free herself from Dreykov’s grip, Yelena reaches out to her sister, bringing about a reunion between the sisters. Though they are not exactly happy about it.
They are going to try and take down Dreykov and they need help. From the two Russians who acted as their parents all those years ago – Alexei or The Red Guardian (David Harbour – from television’s Stranger Things) and Melina (Rachel Weisz – The Lobster, The Favourite). It’s a family affair of the most awkward variety.
Typical superhero film stuff ensues. Meaning kick ass visuals, cool stunts, mind bending fight sequences, and rather shallow storylines. I mean, can anyone tell me why Dreykov is the man he is? No explanation whatsoever. No character development and, sorry, but that makes a villain less scary in my books.
Too bad because there are a couple of cool characters and performances here. Both Pugh and Harbour (nice mix of superhero and funny) are good and their characters/performances made me want to see more of them. Plus there was an interesting kernel of a story here. At one point it is said that the Widows came about because it was using what there was a never ending supply of – girls/women. Throw in the stuff of a man controlling the brains and actions of a lot of women. Women just being used as commodities. And you have an interesting story.
It is great having a female superhero. One which young girls and women can root for. See themselves in. Feel like a woman can save the day. Too bad that, unlike DC’s Wonder Woman, they did not give Black Widow a good story when away from the boys.