The Day The Music Died (Black Widow Review)

Have I mentioned that COVID ruins everything? Well, it does. Thanks to COVID, we didn’t get to see Black Widow in theatres for a year. Black Widow was originally supposed to be released May 1st, 2020, so really it was over a year after its original release. Then we were supposed to get released May 7th, 2021 but then it got delayed again to July 9th, 2021. The point is, I’ve been dying to see this movie for over a year. Dying. to. see. it. I’ve had to wait so long. Black Widow is my favorite character. (Well, besides Bucky Barnes, of course.) Should we have had this movie like a decade ago? Oh yeah, definitely. But we still have it. It is here. It is beautiful and (mostly) perfect. And all of that is to say. . .

I don’t care what all the reviewers say.

My cousin Paul doesn’t want to see it because Taskmaster is a (SPOILERS) a female. And like. . . .I don’t care. Plus, I never got the whole reason why people get up in arms when a character is gender-swapped? Like does it truly affect the character’s backstory? Take Mar Vel in Captain Marvel for instance. A lot of people were pissed that it was a female pilot. But consider this, Mar Vel is an alien. Perhaps the writers changed Mar Vel from a male pilot to a female pilot because Carol Danvers was A) a female and B) a pilot. It might have made the mentorship more believable. I feel the same way–depending on the story–about race-swapping. If a character is originally white and they make them a minority, is that a bad thing? Like, we could use more minority superheroes, honestly. However, if a character is originally a minority, and they make them white, that is a problem. Such as in Doctor Strange where instead of the Ancient One being an older Asian man, it was Tilda Swinton, an older white woman, which nothing against her, she’s a goddess. However, why did they do that? What was the point?

The point of this ramble is that I don’t care what the reviewers say. Not really. Considering I feel like a lot of the movie critics are a bunch of old white men, they’re not really unbiased, now are they? It’s why I never read movie or TV show reviews before I watch something. I don’t want to go in biased before I give the movie or TV show a chance. I also ignore what others say about the movie. Again, I don’t want to be biased. I want to go in. And then I’ll form my own opinion.

Before we get to her debut solo movie, let’s discuss where we first meet Natasha Romanoff, and what we know about her from the other MCU movies she’s been in.

We meet her in Iron Man 2. (See movie clip below.)

Now, she goes by Natalie Rushman in this until later when you find out her name is Natasha Romanoff. If you’re like me and you Google like, everything, then you know that Natasha Romanoff is Black Widow. So in Iron Man 2 though she doesn’t have a huge part, you’re like “Oh my god, they’re bringing in Black Widow.” I may have done a happy dance when I realized who she was.

Natasha Romanoff, using the code name “Black Widow” first appeared in the comic “Tales of Suspense #52” in April 1964. Here’s a great breakdown of her comic book history.

Now, we’ve seen ScarJo, as she’s called, in other projects before Iron Man 2. Such as: Eight-Legged Freaks, We Bought a Zoo, The Perfect Score, The Nanny Diaries, and The Spirit, to name a few. Decent, okay-ish movies that really didn’t get big. I mean, they got big, but she wasn’t the big star in them. Iron Man 2 was really her break-out role.

The second time we see Natasha Romanoff is in The Avengers.

Now, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk (though they recast Bruce Banner), Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger, all set up the first Avengers movie. The first time all these people team up to save the world. Or rather, save Manhattan in The Avengers. In this movie, you get to see them all interact for the first time. Other than Tony and Natasha who already know each other. This set of movies are known as “Phase One.”

So in The Avengers, we get to see Iron Man snark with Captain America, Black Widow try to convince Bruce Banner to join the team, Hawkeye get mind-controlled. It’s fun to see them all interact. They’re all vastly different characters. This movie is really like, a base. you really see more of the team dynamic in Avengers: Age of Ultron and the other movies. The Avengers is when they’re just getting to know each other and established as a team. So as you can imagine, there’s a lot of distrust.

The third time we see Natasha is in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This is my favorite Marvel movie. To date. It is a brilliant movie. The choreography with the fight scenes is amazing. Seriously. The elevator scene alone. Seriously. Watch it below.

In The Winter Soldier, we get to see the dynamic between Natasha and Steve Rogers. You know, Captain America. Duh. Natasha is a spy. Steve is a soldier. (Obviously). They shouldn’t work together, yet they do. They have a very interesting dynamic. Steve is all Mr. Serious and Natasha has a sense of humor. Honestly, they’re cute together, and I really do understand why they’re a popular ship on AO3 (Archive of Our Own).

I think one of the reasons why I like this movie so much (besides you know, Bucky Barnes aka the Winter Soldier) is because you actually get to know more about Natasha and her personality. You get to know her better. You see how she interacts with Steve and Fury. How she reacts to knowing that she’s been working for HYDRA all along, when she thought she was working with SHIELD and clearing all the red on her ledger. Just her devastation at knowing that the missions she went on, thinking that it was benefitting SHIELD and the world in a good way, was really HYDRA all along. That had to suck. A lot. More than a lot. At the end of the movie, she leaks all of the information SHIELD, or rather HYDRA has. This includes information on about how she was a part of the KGB and how she defected. This puts her at risk of being arrested because of her crimes against the United States. Yet, she does it, because she wants HYDRA exposed for who they really are. And that is the moment we begin to realize what Natasha will do to protect people.

The fourth time we see Natasha Romanoff is in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Admittedly not one of the most received MCU movies. It’s not my favorite, and honestly, I don’t even have much to say on it. Basically Tony and Bruce are dummies and create a murder bot that thinks the Avengers are the problem, not the solution. How do they create this thing? By using an Infinity Stone, the Mind Stone to be exact. Because you know, that’s always a great idea to use a cosmic stone you don’t understand. They also create Vision. We get to meet the Maximoff twins, Pietro and Wanda. Pietro dies. Hawkeye adopts Wanda. The team is a bit messed up after the whole Ultron mess. Bruce Banner disappears.

One thing that everyone hated in this movie was the romance between Natasha and Bruce. Me? I didn’t hate it. I liked it. I just didn’t like how it was done. It came out of the blue, but I could see it. I like their dynamic. They’re awkwardly adorable, and I kind of dig that, ngl. It could’ve had a lot of potential, if we had seen more of it. But it was like introduced but then never really addressed again.

The next time we see Natasha is in Captain America: Civil War. Which really should’ve been named Avengers: Civil War since the only two who were missing were Thor and Hulk. Either way this movie wrecked me.

On the other hand, we did get this beautiful scene with Bucky. Watch it.

ICONIC.

Who knew a guy stealing a motorcycle and doing a cool flip thing could be so hot? (Might be biased. I do love me some Bucky Barnes.)

Either way, Civil War destroyed me. The team disagrees on the Sokovia Accords, there’s a huge misunderstanding about Bucky killing T’Challa’s father, and poor Tony finds out HYDRA killed his family. The Sokovia Accords splits up the teams into two groups: those that agree and those that oppose.

The Sokovia Accords. Approved by 117 countries, it states that the Avengers shall no longer be a private organization. Instead, they’ll operate under the supervision of a United Nations panel, only when and if that panel deems it necessary.

Meanwhile, Natasha says she agrees but really, she doesn’t. She just wants the team to be together. She’s not dumb. She doesn’t trust Thaddeus Ross or the Accords. She ends up betraying Team Accords to protect Steve and his team. Thus she, Steve, and Sam go on the run. Bucky goes into the deep freeze. Hawkeye and Ant-Man go on house arrest. And the Avengers are officially broken up.

This is one of those MCU movies that I can’t rewatch. It hurts me too much.

(Note: Black Widow directly follows Captain America: Civil War.)

Her next appearance is in Avengers: Infinity War. It has been two years since the airport fight that split up the Avengers. Natasha has spent those two years on the run with Sam and Bucky doing who knows what. We really don’t know what they do. She comes with a new blonde ‘do that I kind of dig. We don’t really need to hash out what happens in Infinity War, you’ve seen it. If you haven’t, then why are you here?

We see our girl again Avengers: Endgame. She has taken up the mantle of leading what’s left of the Avengers and running things, talking to Rocket the Raccoon and Carol Danvers, the folks in Wakanda, and generally being a badass.

Now, again, if you haven’t seen this movie, why are you here? But SPOILERS.

Natasha Romanoff dies. She gives her life to get the Soul Stone so that Clint and everyone else can get the ones they love back from being Dusted.

I won’t lie.

I cried. I was bawling as I watched this scene.

We all knew that someone was going to die but I didn’t expect it to be her. I had finally stopped crying over her death when we lost Tony Stark and I was like what the fuck. Thank you for destroying my soul, Disney.

Natasha Romanoff and Tony Stark made the ultimate sacrifices. They grew so much. From being a billionaire who didn’t care about anyone but himself to an ex-brainwashed assassin who was forced to kill people. They grew and we will always miss them.

I won’t deny that I wasn’t disappointed that we didn’t get a funeral scene for Natasha like we did for Tony. She deserved that too. But either way, RIP Natasha Romanoff and Tony Stark.

Now, without further adieu, let’s talk about Black Widow. As stated previously, Black Widow takes place after Captain America: Civil War.

We start the movie in Ohio, 1995 where some young girls, one with blue hair, the other with blonde are playing. It kind of starts out as a typical like Hallmark movie with the two girls and the parents. But the, oh, the parents have secrets. We find out that the parents are Russians spies who were sent here undercover three years to get information. And by “get” I mean “steal.”

So the girls, who we find out are Natasha and her sister, Yelena, have to leave their Ohio home and they end up back in the Red Room.

Honestly, though, I don’t want to run through this entire movie. It’s been out a while and people have already done reviews about it.

What I will say is that I was a bit disappointed in what we learned about the Red Room. Which is to say, nothing at all. When I think “origin story” I really wanted to see like baby Nat when she first started in the Red Room. We got to see her as a teenager with some fabulous blue hair, but it was only in the first like maybe twenty or so minutes.

We get this montage in the opening credits. It’s a great montage, don’t get me wrong. Beautifully done. As a film major, I can appreciate it. The music, the images, the videos. It’s all perfect. It almost reads like a propo for a war. Kind of like what they did in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. Take a look below at a scene from the movie and I think you’ll see what I mean.

It felt new, raw, and real. However, and I know I’m not the only one who thinks that that’s not exactly what I was expecting in this movie. The montage is like a summary of what the Red Room is. When what we wanted was a deep delve into the Red Room. In the comics, Natasha Romanoff and the other Widows were trained by the Winter Soldier aka Bucky Barnes. Bucky and Natasha even had a relationship. The intel Alexei and the one chick who also played in The Mummy movies, the intel they got was from the Winter Soldier program.

We also didn’t get Hawkeye aka Clint Barton, going after Black Widow. How did she really defect? We know he had something to do with it, but what?

Also what happened to all the other Widows? They are free now, yes? But where did they go? Do they go find all the other women? Were the Widows a part of HYDRA? Is the Red Room truly over?

Black Widow was a good movie. I liked it a lot. I liked that we got to focus on Natasha Romanoff. It did have problems though. Like the ones I mentioned. Also, this movie should’ve happened during Phase Two. It felt like a Phase Two movie, not a Phase Four movie.

I also feel like the after credits scene where Yelena visits Natasha’s grave was an afterthought. I’m curious as to what happens with her and Clint in Hawkeye. We’ll have to see how that goes.

However let’s not focus on all that. Let’s just talk about my favorite parts.

  • Yelena and Natasha’s relationship is seriously the cutest thing in the world. Their dynamic is perfect. Natasha is the exasperated older sister and Yelena is the annoying little sister. Yelena is a gem of a human. How she has remained so optimistic and full of life after all the shit she’s been through, I have no idea.
  • Alexei. Ohmygod. David Harbour, who is also in Stranger Things, is just. . .He’s a caricature Like he has no idea how ridiculous he sounds. I don’t know a lot about the Red Guardian, but like, is he like that in the comics too?
  • Yelena’s Vest. Enough said.
  • Poser. Just. Omg. Way to be meta in a movie by making fun of superhero poses. Especially female superhero poses that *clears throat* accentuates their assets.

All in all, I enjoyed Black Widow. I wish we had it sooner, but I enjoyed it and I am more or less satisfied. If you havne’t seen it, you should

R.I.P. Natasha Romanoff.

-K

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