Might contain spoilers.
I resolved not to watch it unless it got extremely positive reviews. It got extremely positive reviews, so I watched it. I should have listened to my gut. I used to say this movie was coming 10 years too late, but I can now confidently say timing isn’t the issue. It’s just a boring, unnecessarily violent (cf. Alexei breaking someone’s wrist for no reason) movie. Natasha has always been one of my two least favourite heroes in the MCU, and Black Widow demonstrates why.
Florence Pugh’s Yelena is the true protagonist: charming, interesting, complicated, authentic, nuanced, capable, and believably naïve and childlike when the occasion calls for it. She steals your heart and demands your attention. Every moment without her onscreen is a waste.
Rachel Weiss is better than the role she’s stuck with. Ray Winstone makes no impression until his
confrontation with Natasha, when he suddenly shines. David Harbour is good at playing the comic
relief, but emblematic of the movie’s struggle with tone. Take the emotional reunion with Natasha
and Yelena—his delivery of
I couldn’t be prouder of you both is just right, but the scene needed much more careful direction to avoid
destroying its emotion while still maintaining the humour.
Names from the MCU show up here and there, and there is a vague adherence to the æsthetics of the larger universe, but no strong sense of being one story among many. At least, not until the post-credits scene, which is my favourite section: bright lighting, no Scarlett Johansson, genuine emotion—I didn’t expect to feel so much upon seeing the headstone—and a focus on Yelena. On top of all that, it promises more of her in the upcoming Hawkeye show thanks to Julia Louis-Dreyfus establishing a proper MCU connection. What’s not to like?