July 23, 2021 – The Black Widow is a character introduced to movie audiences in Iron Man 2 (2010). When Tony Stark saw her in action, he immediately said “I want one (of those)” and so do a lot of moviegoers. Black Widow has since appeared in half a dozen Marvel films, even though the character was killed in Avengers Endgame (2019). She's back from the dead now and she has her own origins story in the latest Marvel movie, Black Widow (2021).
Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Natasha Romanoff (the Black Widow) in this film after scenes from her back story years earlier as part of a Russian sleeper agent family in the United States. This family, super soldier father (played by David Harbour of “Hellboy”) mother (played by Rachel Weisz of “Oz the Great and Powerful”) and sister, Yelena Belova (played by Florence Pugh) are not Natasha's real family, but they are the closest thing to a real family she ever had, and they are reunited later in the film.
Natasha has lost touch with her ersatz family over the years, but comes in contact with Yelena Belova, who is on the run from ninja-like assassins called Widows, after she defects from the Widows. Natasha, also a former Widow, is also on the run because she violated international laws.
Yelena has come into possession of drugs which can cancel out the drug-induced programming used to control the behavior of the Widows. When Natasha discovers that Dreykov (Ray Winstone of “Beowulf”) the man in charge of the Widows, has escaped death, she and Yelena vow to take him down and dismantle his organization. Dreykov, like many evil movie megalomaniacs, has a plan to conquer the world using his multinational, strategically placed army of Widow agents.
That brings the old ersatz family back together for the purpose of destroying Dreykov and his evil plans. During this quest, all four of these people are forced to confront their feelings for each other, and to confront their relationship to the Widows organization itself, which has dominated their lives for years. In the process, they discover that maybe they are a real family, after all.
Like most Marvel movies, this one features lots of action, and a fair amount of science fiction when it comes to mind control and megastructures floating on thin air. What makes this movie stand out from the majority of action movies is that it is more character-driven than most. It is about family relationships as much as it is about the mission. It is this voyage of emotional discovery that essentially powers the film.
The key relationship in the movie is between Natasha and Yelena Belova. Johansson and Pugh work this relationship, complicated by a lot of emotional baggage, very well on screen. They are quite the dynamic duo in both action scenes and emotional scenes. This film rates a B.
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