This a spoiler-free article, more or less. So, if you are yet to watch the film, you have decision to make.
Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff is the first female superhero of our generation. When I say that, I obviously only mean, the MCU and the DC movies. She was introduced in Iron-Man 2 and since then the Black Widow has become an integral part of Disney eventual goal to rule the world.
She is more or less loved by everyone, despite the shoddy writing often associated with her character(that cringeworthy romantic arc with Banner) and the oversexualisation that came with it. It’s why you see a lot of Hawkeye being useless memes across pop culture and not Black Widow.
The truth can’t be changed, no matter how much PR and money might gave gone into giving the title of the first female superhero to Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel. Black Widow is the first female superhero.
So it naturally seems perplexing that her mysterious character had never been explored in the MCU, prior to her death. Now, MCU had a chance to redeem themselves and give Nat and Ms Johansson a better send off, than killing her by throwing her off a cliff in the middle of movie that had so many ‘gotcha’ moments that it didn’t even feature in the Top 10.
Then they announced the Black Widow movie and we all thought, “Finally!” They were finally going to give Nat’s character a lot more to work with, probably giving more meaning, more emotions to her sacrifice.
Then the movie got delayed. And when it released, Disney decided to just stream it on its new platform, which is understandable given the pandemic. But in doing so, they also broke their contract with Scarlett Johansson and now both parties are involved in a very public lawsuit.
Firstly, the film released at a weird time. It had been 2 years since the character was killed. Phase III had come to and end. It just seemed like a lot of people had moved on or were prepared to move on from the Infinity Saga, which is why we should have had this movie a long time ago, when the hype was real.
Johansson’s spy/assassin deserved a well-versed arc outside the Avengers films or the Captain America & Iron Man films, where had started off as a second lead of sorts but was soon reduced to one of those guys in the back.
Even after all that, you would expect the movie to do justice to this beloved character but nope, even the film wasn’t centred around her. It might have her name but sole purpose of the film was to fill in the gaps from the previous movies and introduce new characters to milk later.
No offence to Florence Pugh. She is a terrific actor who makes you want to root for Yelena Belova the moment you set eyes on her. Pugh’s done some terrific character roles in her career and this is just another feather in her cap. But the movie acts as her origin story, rather than being centred around Natasha Romanoff.
The manner in which Black Widow unfolds and the story it tells, it would have been extremely difficult to tell anyway, in the wake of Avengers: Endgame. And while Johansson is excellent as always, the plot just doesn’t do her justice.
The Black Widow movie, even the one we have got right now, should have been told 5 years ago, but the studios kept procrastinating it in favour of the larger picture. This movie serves the MCU as a whole, rather than being a solo movie, or even as a tribute to the character or a thanks to Scarlett Johansson.