2021, Movies

Black Widow (2021, Cate Shortland)

Much like Captain Marvel, this is a necessary and needed corrective. And much more than Captain Marvel, we can legitimately wonder what took so damn long. Most of the other Avengers got their movies a long time ago. (The Hulk got his own movie, remember.) But being a necessary corrective to a patriarchal movie franchise doesn’t make the film great. And, much like Captain Marvel, this film suffers from being an MCU movie.

It’s been a little while since the MCU was this full-on in origin story mode. Well, maybe not that long in earth years but a long time in MCU movies. But this movie lapses back into the cliches of earlier MCU origin story films. This is a little bit different because of the characters involved- being stolen at birth and all – but otherwise it hits similar beats to a number of earlier MCU origin stories. It’s reasonably well-done, I guess, but there is definitely a sense of deja vu. (Particularly with how it echoes The Americans.)

In the middle of the film in particular, the action scenes are better than many MCU films merely because they involve real people. Prior to the jailbreak much of this is well-done and I was kind of enjoying myself, despite myself. If the entire movie had been like this, we might have had something. Alas…

Before I get to that alas, I will say I enjoyed the Red Guardian. He’s a comic foil but he’s an effective one even if he is one hell of an awful parent (and he’s forgiven for it very quickly). Anyway…

From the jailbreak, we get back to the usual MCU craziness. First with how hundreds (thousands?) of prisoners presumably just die and nobody notices – shades of Avengers movies – and then with the stupid cloud city shit. All the while the daughters who were treated horribly by their parents forgive and forget and join together to destroy yet another chunk of the globe. (Apparently we’re supposed to take away something about “family” that’s vaguely like The Fast and the Furious movies albeit far, far less dumb, and somewhat more believable.) The cloud city thing is just ridiculous, not the least in its preposterously slow fall through the sky, conveniently slow enough so that everyone can still fight. Why do people fall faster than giant cloud cities? I don’t know.

I’m happy this exists for the same reason I’m happy Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman exist. (In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be so many comic book movies but there would be a more equitable distribution in terms of gender.) But I didn’t like it any more than the former.

6/10

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