After a long year of waiting, 'Black Widow' finally has her own movie. But is this too little too late? After all, Marvel seemed to reach its peak with 'Endgame', add a nice epilogue with 'Far from Home', and it feels a bit like it's time to move on. Not to mention, the idea of a 'Black Widow' movie has been on Marvel fans minds since her first appearance in 'Iron Man 2'. Personally, I was actually fine with the film's timing due to a few things in the film, but I can also see the point when people claim it should have come right after 'Civil War' - which is incidentally when it takes place.
That's not before we delve into the past, and the intro to the film is a slice of origin, taking us back to 1995. In Ohio, we meet a surrogate family, starting with two young girls, Natasha Romanov (Ever Anderson) and Yelena Belova (Violet McGraw) who are enjoying their lives, having fun etc. That is until super soldier father figure, Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour) enters the scene to warn his Black Widow wife, Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) that their time is short. The parental units take the girls on an "adventure" to escape the scene with some SHIELD intel successfully stolen. Arriving in Cuba, they rendezvous with their boss, General Dreykov (Ray Winstone) who then has Natasha and Yelena sent to the "Red Room" to be trained. The credits start, and the opening is actually pretty damn disturbing.
As years pass, Romanoff eventually becomes an Avenger with a checkered history, as we all know, and we do get some answers as to what she did so wrong in her past. To add to that, the year is now 2016, and she is a fugitive on the run for violating the Sokovia Accords (see 'Civil War'). Meanwhile, Yelena stays a Black Widow, and discovers that the Red Room holds a pretty significant dark secret, while Shostakov is in a secluded Russian prison, and Vostokoff is living on a farm somewhere. Once discovering the Red Room's secret, Yelena attempts to coax Natasha to help in her own subtle way, which will ultimately mean helping other Widows and hopefully bringing down Dreykov and his Red Room antics.
Meanwhile still, a villain known as the Taskmaster (uncredited) is sent onto the scene to retrieve something Natasha and Yelena are carrying. The idea for Taskmaster is really neat - he can simply mimic anything he sees. So for instance, watching a newsfeed of Captain America fighting allows him to use a shield as a weapon very efficiently. The thing is, if anyone has a problem with any part of the movie, it's probably going to be Taskmaster fans being wronged. From my perspective, I'm very unfamiliar with the character comic-wise, so didn't see a big problem with the character. But for fans? I can definitely seeing this being the equivalent of Deadpool showing up in 'Wolverine' looking like Baraka.
All that aside, it's time to get down to my personal opinion on this. There was actually a lot I liked about it, but first let's mention the negatives. First, I find it a touch odd that they actually brought in a few horror elements to this with the opening credits. It's creepy enough, but soon you find out just what they did to these girls in the Red Room and it sounds like a living nightmare. To be fair, that is the point, but I wasn't sure I expected it to get that dark. I expected a bit more of a 'Dark Angel' scenario. But that's just being nit-picky on my part. Sometimes the action is a bit over the top for something you'd think would be more grounded, and going back to Taskmaster, I can see that being the biggest disappointment of the film.
Like I said, however, I did like a lot about this. It's a solid girl power theme without being so in your face. I liked the introduction of some new characters, namely Yelena and Red Guardian. I thought that the performances were good, and despite some of the action being over the top, I enjoyed that it was a Marvel take on a bit more of a spy/espionage movie, which really hasn't been done yet. To me, this is Marvel's answer to the 'Mission: Impossible' films - very similar in style. In the end, I definitely liked it more than I disliked it, but I will admit that it's one of Marvel's lesser films. I might suggest continuing the wait and not feeding Disney that extra cash.
POST-CREDIT SCENE: Set after Romanoff's death in 'Endgame', Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) shows Yuleena Belova her next target; Clint Barton, who she claims to be Natasha's killer.