“Black Widow” is too little too late


Violet Chace, Entertainment Editor

“Black Widow” takes place immediately after Captain America: Civil War when Natasha Romanoff is on the run from the government. She takes this time away from the Avengers, who she considers her adopted family, to explore some of her past trauma. In an institute known as the Red Room, young girls are turned into human weapons. After being trained as a spy, Romanoff escaped the Red Room’ through S.H.I.E.L.D. But her upbringing haunts her throughout all of the movies that she appears in. Her development compared to other Avengers has only been mentioned in passing, which is surprising considering that she is one of the original six Avengers.

For years fans of the character pestered Marvel to give Black Widow a stand-alone film where her incredible comic book backstory could be displayed on the big screen. After Romanoff was killed off in “Avengers: Endgame,” Disney realized it made a mistake. Fans were furious because her death defeated the purpose of the minimal character development that she received in the MCU films so far. Despite learning from a young age that the only person to trust is yourself and that loving others makes you too vulnerable, Romanoff found a group of friends that she now considered to be a true family. Moments before her death, the writers had Romanoff justify her sacrifice by explaining to Hawk Eye that since he has a biological family, he is more deserving to live. To complete her character arc, she needed to have the chance to love her found family and accept that she was an equally valuable member of the team.

“Black Widow” was a decent addition to the MCU overall. It has a solid plot, a quick action packed pace, and some of the best fight choreography fans have ever seen in the MCU. Since Romanoff is going against the evil agency that she was raised in, most of the people she fights have the same training and skills as her. This results in opponents almost mirroring each other which results in very visually appealing fights. It also shows how Romanoff was facing herself in a way. Something previous marvel movies have been criticized for is unrealistic fighting where characters bounce back too easily despite the blows. “Black Widow ” makes a point to display the physical toll that fighting takes.

Some new fan favorites are introduced in “Black Widow.” While exploring her backstory, viewers learn that Romanoff did have a childhood family, although they were not biologically related. David Harbour plays Red Guardian and brings the hilarious character to life while serving mostly as comic relief. Black Widow’s sister Yelana Belova also made her first appearance and was an instant hit with fans. It seems a bit like Romanoff is being swapped out for another token female hero after being killed off. Although there is hope for stronger representation based on cast lists for confirmed future MCU content. The new Marvel TV shows have definitely improved when it comes to being more inclusive. “WandaVision” has a strong female lead, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” focuses on real-world issues pertaining to racial inequality, and “Loki” came out as the first main character to be queer in the miniseries that is now confirmed for a season 2. Hopefully, decent representation will become a priority in upcoming films rather than just in the Disney+ exclusive TV shows. Nothing in “Black Widow” is significant to the current MCU plot and the film exists as a filler to market upcoming content. Real effort was not put into “Black Widow” for any of the right reasons.

Some fans had a problem with the depiction of Taskmaster in “Black Widow,” since it was vastly different from the traditional comic book version of the character. It felt like Taskmaster was only present in this film so that there was a “bad guy” to fight. Natasha’s main objective was dismantling a group rather than defeating one person with evil superpowers, so Taskmaster was really just there to be on the movie poster. That being said, Taskmaster’s costume design was fantastic and was still an interesting part of the movie despite being so much unlike what fans are familiar with.

From the beginning, Black Widow in the MCU has not received the love she deserved from writers and producers. Between marketing, costume design, and shot choices, the character was oversexualized over the years. This is the first film in which she had her hair tied up during a fight and a costume that is something other than armorless, skin-tight leather. “Black Widow” even poked fun at the way they had her unrealistically pose and flip her hair to be more aesthetically appealing during fights. Overall this film is fairly progressive when it comes to feminist themes of women helping women and also felt much less performative and forced than “Captain Marvel.” This movie is decent, but it was too late especially considering how many times the release date was pushed back due to COVID 19. “Black Widow” was made retrospectively which takes a lot of power away from the messages in the film. The movie killed two birds with one stone by filling in gaps to set up future movies while attempting to make up for the poor treatment of Black Widow’s character.