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'Black Widow' Review With Casey

Perhaps the most anticipated summer movie of 2021, Black Widow premiered on July 9 in both movie theaters and on the Disney+ streaming platform. Directed by Australian woman Cate Shortland (Berlin Syndrome, 2017), Black Widow is a colossal, sexy, explosive action-adventure about the famous superspy Natasha Romanoff played by the steely Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story, 2019).

This film’s chronology takes place between Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018) adding even more complexity to the dynasty of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The word universe is aptly used here because Black Widow is the 24th film in this series of superhero comic book adaptations for the big screen (and many of the films in this series are interconnected).


After escaping a surprise brush with death, the title character travels on her own across the globe to uncover a conspiracy of assassins and mind control that she was part of long before joining the Avengers. She is forced to confront her past and reunite with her estranged family, revealing long-held resentments and wounds of betrayal. This prequel treatment of such a famous female superhero works well for Scarlett Johansson to revel in the poignant emotional scenes with the same energy as she does in the action sequences. 


Being the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to be directed by a lone woman (Anna Boden worked as a co-director with Ryan Fleck for the 2019 film Captain Marvel), Black Widow has all the expected parts of a superhero film. (A car chase, explosions, rooftop jumping, hidden earpieces, and a villainous lair that floats perpetually in the sky.) The only difference this time is that almost all the action, fighting, and drama is centered around women. Being female-centric works well for this film since its main purpose is being a triumphant send-off of a female action hero. 


But being the 24th film in such an enormous franchise, Black Widow is really showing its age in this genre. So many parts of this film were fun. But they lacked originality or surprise because I felt I had seen much of it before. Even the comedic moments followed a clearly familiar pattern. (Isn't it funny how the film is self-referential about comic book heroes and fighting? Isn't it funny to see such a strong and contained female action hero bicker with her younger sister and her parents?)


I understand why so many viewers have waited impatiently to see this movie (and why so many have loved it since it premiered). It's fun and exciting to watch Scarlett Johansson escape an avalanche by helicopter or plummet to the ground dodging chunks of industrial debris. Let's just hope these embellished superhero adventures can be laid to rest for a while.  

Casey T. Allen is a native of Utah who graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor's degree in English in 2007. He has worked in many capacities throughout USU campus and enjoys his time at UPR to continually exercise his writing.