Oh boy, Black Widow! Yet another dull studio scheme to make money by pandering toward whatever audiences want to see! Don’t be fooled if these films seem to celebrate progression while embracing the current sociopolitical climate, there’s too many ways it’s steeping into old ways, particularly by its method of storytelling.
As if some cheesy sci-fi serial made in the 1940s, this continues the Marvel trend of shamelessly insulting other cultures by casting American actors and forcing them to attempt horrible accents, Florence Pugh of which gets the worst treatment. Her role gives all White women a bad name by her painfully awkward comic timing as she tries to sound Russian, yet doesn’t try at the same time. If anything at all could redeem her character, it would be the way her favorite song, American Pie, is used. Whenever it plays, the lyrics serve the context of her and Natasha saying goodbye to the ideal American image to ride toward an image tainted by another country. Yes, you heard that right. This movie isn’t just racist in its accents, its narrative is essentially saying that America is the greatest country in the world, and any others, such as Russia or Hungary, are merely out to enslave it.
With this being a comic book movie, you can forget about it encouraging love and acceptance of potential enemies, just like how you can forget about it being believable. In only the third scene, a running man somehow catches up to a moving plane, then easily stays on its wing while it’s airborne. After that, you could host a drinking game off the number of times Black Widow should have suffered broken bones from how frequently she falls; I guarantee you will wind up on the hospital bed before the halfway point.
Though you may rather start taking shots to numb your brain from the horrid attempts at humor. The confused tone aims to be strictly serious with occasional funny parts, except those funny parts only emphasize the monotone pacing. Maybe it would help if these jokes’ punchlines weren’t super anticlimactic, or even if the jokes had punchlines at all. Not to mention some of the humor is tasteless, as it goes as far as forcing us to laugh at animal abuse. Come on, did any of the writers at Marvel study up on the basic rules of comedy? And how could a movie give an obvious image of wanting to empower women yet also think that somebody nearly killing their own pet is funny? The humor is so bad, I doubt even the actors were aware the some of the lines they had to recite were intended to be funny.
To sustain the incomprehensible plot, unnecessary flashbacks hinder the story arcs, which I guess fits the mood since Marvel lacks any concept of time. Like really, they didn’t bother giving Black Widow her own standalone movie until after she died? And they set the chronology to after the events of Civil War? Why not just produce and release this movie back in 2016 in the first place? Oh right, back then they thought women heroes wouldn’t make money. So yup, that’s right, we got this movie late because Marvel is led by disorganized, sexist cowards! Now the first female hero in the MCU is doomed to have one long unnecessary flashback as her standalone movie. Way to go, Marvel.
Johansson has been playing Natasha for over a decade now, yet the pathetic, insincere family drama she’s forced to act in actually makes her performance worse than it’s ever been. She’s still there more for the purpose of having the pervert production crew find sneaky ways to close the camera in on her chest and butt for as long as possible, while also trying to make sure she looks perfectly stunning in every single shot. She’s not the only victim either: Rachel Weisz appears as Natasha’s adoptive mother in a 1995 setting, then when she’s seen again after a twenty-one-year time jump, she looks exactly the same—no wrinkles or gray hairs in sight. Clearly it was more important that she looked beautiful as opposed to looking like how one would realistically look in her predicament.
If I could pull something out that was genuinely done well, that would be the treatment of Natasha’s hair. Her hair as a child is dyed blue as a symbol for her pureness, then when she becomes a Widow, she changes her hair to resemble fire, because exposure to such horror made her want to change, only bringing back her natural hair color once she felt stronger. This context of her childhood gives her an effective arc to the extent where you now see how she grew movie by movie based on her hairstyle.
I also should, in complete fairness, praise the imagery in the opening credits, with its containment camps full of girls that look hauntingly similar to current events around the Earth. Other newsreel videos and still images are included to depict the political climate from the late 90s to the mid-2010s, ultimately creating a more impressionable intro than the two Guardians of the Galaxies.
However, those pieces of praise are miniscule, and only happen within the first ten minutes. The rest of the time, you just have the awful battle choreography to watch- worse even than The Winter Soldier. You know what I’m talking about: extreme close-up cinematography, fake blood effects, obnoxious closeups, blurry aperture settings, shots that last less than a second, the camera often pointing up without reason, Steadicam everywhere even when people are just sitting around talking, you better bring a barf bag.
Black Widow is overall a greatly unpleasant experience, the biggest I ever had watching the MCU, but you know, Marvel’s gotta do what Disney’s gotta do. With them controlled by the mouse, Marvel will never try for more adult themes as long as they make money.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!