Black Widow – First Impressions

Black Widow – First Impressions

Does NOT pass the Bechdel test.

I’ll do The Tomorrow War review first. There is no rush on this one. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be and since almost no one who reads this blog on the regular is going to see it anyway, Black Widow is now reprioritized. If I was going to rate it at Does Not Recommend I’d get it done today but it’s not that bad. I thought it was finally going to be the really awful Marvel film we’ve been expecting for a while and it isn’t. That is not to say that it is a particularly good movie either.

It is nowhere near as Woke as Disney marketing was desperately trying to make it out to be. And none of the women in it can go for five minutes without mentioning a man. So it fails the so-called Bechdel test.

Here is the big thing, I can’t help but wonder, what was the point of this movie?

If it had come out between Infinity War and End Game then it would have brought a lot more emotional impact to Natasha’s death. And the post-credit scene at Natasha’s grave would have fired up even more interest in End Game.

I suspect but cannot prove that after Wonder Woman came out something like this happened at Marvel. Feige gets a panicked called from Bob Iger telling him he absolutely has to make a superheroine movie. Kevin calls for pitch meetings and he fell in love with the Black Widow concept. But he also knew that he had to present an unworkable first idea to Iger so he could get Black Widow greenlit and back then Marvel didn’t own the rights to too many of their heroines. He went with the half-assed idea of Captain Marvel and pitched it high and to the left knowing that Iger would shoot it down. Iger instantly fell in love with Woke OP Carol Danvers.

And honestly, that should have been it for Black Widow but it clearly became a passion project for Kevin Feige. He really wanted this picture made.

Its most fundamental problem is that the character of Natasha is still dead. Her death hangs over the whole film like a pall of despair. Any triumphs she has are muted, any dangers she faces are pointless. The character died in 2019, no earlier and no later.

And this film does not set up much of anything for the films to come.

Since you are probably most curious about the post-credit teaser, here it is; Natasha’s sister, Yelena (AKA literally discount Black Widow) visits her sister’s grave, does sentimental things there, and then receives the assignment to kill the man responsible for her Natasha’s death, Hawkeye. Dun! Dun! Dun!

Ultimately, this film feels a bit like Schwarzenegger’s Last Action Hero, a film that would have been a mega-blockbuster just a few years before but now feels kinda dated. There is nothing here that you haven’t seen before and don’t know about already.

Share this post

Comments (11)

  • EXALT Reply

    “Does NOT pass the Bechdel test.”
    But female director!
    “I thought it was finally going to be the really awful Marvel film we’ve been expecting for a while and it isn’t.”
    Less than four months for Eternals…
    “Here is the big thing, I can’t help but wonder, what was the point of this movie?”
    Good question; the thing I would like to know, OTOH, is: why is this set after Civil War? By being so, it loses the basic appeal of a prequel (“Learn the origins of one of your favorite characters!”) – which, as the DH rightfully notes, is not that great of a writing choice, but it’s a great selling point – while damning itself to pointlessness: we have watched both Civil and Infinity War/Endgame, we know BW undergoes no development in-between them, so the events of this movie, for all intents and purposes, simply did not happen.
    “Natasha’s sister, Melina”
    Melina is the mother, the sister is Yelena. Clearly, you were very interested in the movie.
    “receives the assignment to kill the man responsible for her Natasha’s death, Hawkeye.”
    And that’s supposed to be one of the main hooks for Hawkeye’s show, coming later this year; the other is the training of Female Hawkeye, of course.
    “a film that would have been a mega-blockbuster just a few years before but now feels kinda dated.”
    Oh, so the decision to set the first Phase 4 movie during Phase 3 was symbolic.
    Question for anyone who has seen the movie: a leak stated that there was a scene where the Widow Sisters scare away their dad by starting to talk about periods; is this true?

    July 9, 2021 at 4:13 pm
    • JB Reply

      The period question – not exactly, but kind of.

      Their ‘Dad’ says something like ‘what, are you on your periods?’ and the two of them, frustrated at his callous forgetting of what felt like he was kind of partially responsible for (their time in the Red Room) describe their forced hysterectomies/sterilizations in clinical language and he is indeed weirded out by it.

      So like taking the ‘Dad can’t handle period talk’ trope and elevating it to the intensity of the world to display how they have family dynamics but also very much not normal family dynamics.

      July 10, 2021 at 5:42 pm
      • EXALT Reply

        Thanks for the answer.
        Wow; they’re becoming more and more callous with their lies.

        July 10, 2021 at 7:19 pm
      • bvdemier Reply

        So once again crappy writers take something that works, try their own take on it and failing miserable.
        We knew Black Widow was underwent sterilization in the Red Room. This was shown in AoU in 1 scene and immediatly we undestood the inhumanity of the training. We generated sympathy for Black Widow and that should have been enough.
        For me it is the equivalent of seeing a turd on the street. You either walk past it or clean it up. What you dont do is pick up the turd, smear it on your face and run around yelling;”there was shit on the street.”
        It is pretty funny that Gundam Unicorn does almost the exact same thing with a caracter called Marida Cruz. It shows just enough to generate sympathy without becoming a farce.

        July 11, 2021 at 6:17 am
  • WOPR Reply

    I never expected it to be a bad film. With a couple of exceptions, Marvel films have been on a downward trajectory in the quality department. And that is mainly because the formula is going stale.

    Marvel screwed up royally by not doing a Black Widow movie far earlier. It would have made a fortune. It is almost like Disney went “You like Black Widow? Tough. We’ll give you black Valkyrie and Captain Marvel.”

    July 9, 2021 at 5:55 pm
    • Sanders Reply

      >> Marvel films have been on a downward trajectory in the quality department. And that is mainly because the formula is going stale.

      I digress, I agree the formula was stale, then so is coke’s formula and people still like it.

      The death of Marvel comes from the woke-ism and bad writing it engenders, it began to be appreciable with Thor Ragnarok, where Thor and the Hulk got emasculated to give credence to sassy mulatto woman.

      The malaise might have started to be visible with Ragnarok and made very evident by Captain Marvel, but it is not the formula that’s currently killing the MCU is all the garbage writing by SJWs

      Captain America abandoning his duty ruins endgame.
      The silly women pose ruins endgame.
      Captain Marvel full fat woke-ism ruins endgame.
      Wandavision bad storytelling weakens endgame a lot.
      Falcon and the Winter soldier ruins endgame.

      There shouldn’t have been any Captain Marvel in Endgame, Stark Should have been rescued by the space pirates from Guardians, Hulk should have gone bonkers after Thanos bombards the avengers HQ, he should have been the one to destroy Thanos’ ship, and in no way turning Thor into a fat buffoon helps the narrative.

      The wokeism will continue ruining everything and if not stopped in its tracks it will kill Marvel Studios completely like it has killed the comics.

      July 9, 2021 at 6:46 pm
  • Chris Lopes Reply

    It still doesn’t sound like it’s worth 30 bucks to see. It might be worth the standard subscription fee, but not the premium.

    July 9, 2021 at 6:06 pm
    • Cloudbuster Reply

      *cought*bitTorrent*cough*

      July 9, 2021 at 11:26 pm
  • JB Reply

    I think the point of the movie was twofold.
    1) to take advantage of their lack of development of Nat to make more money (ofc) and to fill in as much phase whatever (3?) space as they can before it’s too late to go back to it
    2) it DOES set up things! It sets up Val and the likely Thunderbolts team – which was supposed to be Val’s first introduction if delays didn’t force Black Widow to be released after TFATWS. It also sets up Yelena (not sure the spelling, haven’t bothered to look it up yet) who is meant to be in the Hawkeye series. She would feel much more ham fisted if she got a few flashbacks and forced exposition in that series rather than the strong emotional ties she has to Nat that this film provides. She could even appear in the future Young/New Avengers world that seems to be being set up, especially if she ends up being friends with Hawkeye’s daughter, perhaps having them become a spiritual successor to Nat and Clint’s friendship.

    The movie was predictably low stakes due to us knowing how Nat needs to be in order to go through Infinity War and Endgame and yes, then die. I think they sidestepped this somewhat well by not even slightly trying to have Nat’s potential death be the stakes – we know from the start that Ross can go after her at any point and potentially save her.

    I also don’t think it’s trying to be ‘woke’ in whatever sense you’re comparing it to – I think it ends up ‘woke’ in the abstract sense that it tries to expand Nat beyond the one mandated woman in the Avengers, the love interest to Bruce, the tragic woman who cannot have kids, the Mommy to the Endgame Avengers. But I only stumbled across your review after being curious if the movie tried to pass the Bechdel test, so I don’t know what ‘woke’ means to you.

    I agree that it was clumsy in its marketing and planning, that they waited too long to do her movie and we don’t care about her anymore, both in stakes and in relevance. But I think even if it seems more fitting with the low-key ‘filling in the blanks’ style of the new shows rather than being an Iron Man, Guardians or Ragnarok (etc.) style shake-up, it leaves the MCU in a better place, not a worse one. Maybe that’s all we can ask of a weirdly-situated-in-the-timeline thing like this.

    July 10, 2021 at 5:35 pm
  • David Reply

    I watched it and enjoyed it, despite the flaws. It suffers the common MCU problem with its ultimate villain, as his motivation seems to be power for its own sake and we and the writers have no clear concrete end goal he is trying to achieve. Black Widow’s counter of the villain’s failsafe needed way better setup than a flashback.

    One confusing thing about the movie was the Red Guardian going on and on about Captain America. At first I thought it was something the Red Guardian was making up, but later he really seemed to think Captain America should know who he is, despite Captain America being on ice in the 80’s and 90’s when Red Guardian was active. Is there supposed to be an 80’s Captain America in the MCU timeline that Red Guardian fought?

    July 12, 2021 at 3:41 am
  • Bz Reply

    Then again, how final is death in these sorts of things? Don’t worry about it.

    July 17, 2021 at 1:51 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *