The Black Widow Hits Her Mark
Hi, everyone. I’m back after some necessary time away to take care of some personal matters. One of my first outings that I’ve allowed myself was to go to see The Black Widow. It’s the first time I’ve been to a movie theatre in about a year and a half. I got together with one of my best friends who I see all the super-hero movies with as we’d both been looking forward to this for the year since it was originally supposed to be released. We were not let down as the movie served up the usual Marvel mix of action, adventure, and humor. The movie starts back well before any of the Avengers movies besides the first Captain America on and spans all the way through past Avengers: Endgame and makes all parts worthwhile.
The movie starts in Ohio with a couple young girls and then you get introduced to their parents. When the father shows up, you know something is wrong and the family grabs things quickly and takes off. They end up with the usual chase scene that leads to an airport. The difference this time is that the father holds off the attackers while his wife and daughters get in the plane and then he chases it down and jumps on the wing to ride as the plane takes off. The father it turns out is the Red Guardian and the older of the two girls (who has blue tinged hair oddly enough) is Natasha as young girl. The family was a set-up and they aren’t an actual family. When they land, the father turns a disk over as the mother is taken away, having been shot on take-off. Then we see the girls drugged and dragged off.
Jump forward to sometime after Captain America: Civil War with Steve and Natasha as renegade Avengers. Thunderbolt Ross is trying to catch Natasha but she just manages to make a fool of him as she heads off and goes into hiding. This was a nice chuckle as he finds out that a spy like the Black Widow can outsmart him so easily. (Like she would carry something that could easily be traced on her with her training.) In comes a new character Mason who seems to be the person to go to when you need…. well… anything it seems. He sets her up in an out of the way place to hide out though I never seem to figure out how he ends up getting paid for all that he does. We even get a hint of things to come as Natasha sits in the trailer with a hair coloring kit. A side story introduces us to a bunch of assassins who chase after a woman to get a case she has. Before she dies, she sprays one agent with a red mist that makes her act weird. She grabs the case with vials inside and takes off. Well, this case ends up in with some stuff in the trailer. Of course, Natasha has to go get some gas when the generator gives out and she ends up getting attached by the Taskmaster. I’ve always thought the Taskmaster was an interesting character with his photographic reflexes allowing him to mimic other people’s physical skills. (The comics have actually explored the concept of the limits of what he can remember how to do and how learning new stuff affects his knowledge of other skills or even other memories.) It turns out that he was after the case and not the Black Widow. He does get the case but the vials inside end up with Natasha who got knocked off the bridge.
The vials lead her to Budapest where she confronts the assassin from earlier who, not very surprisingly, turns out to be her younger sister. There’s the usual fight between 2 characters that the movie is sorta obligated too. (It’s like the cheesy super-hero landing pose that they actually make fun of in the movie.) At first, it looks like they don’t know who each other are but it turns out they did so I’m not quite sure why they fought as hard as they did. Of course, after they stop, people start crashing in and attack the two of them making them run for it. One of the Widows gets hurt and Natasha sees her get forced to kill herself showing the control the guy in the background has. At this point, the sisters decide that it’s time to go get their father to try to get information on the Red Room where the Widows are indoctrinated, something Natasha though was done since she had killed the person who ran it. (Hint: She should have made sure he was dead. Bad spy!) It turns out that the Red Guardian is in jail and has definitely put on some weight on top of getting a bunch of tattoos. He’s definitely full of himself and is the obvious comedy relief of the movie. Natasha and Yelena fly a helicopter to the prison to break him out and, of course, everything goes wrong. They eventually make it out and find out he knows nothing about the Red Room but their mother, who is still alive much to their surprise, knows a lot about it.
Cut ahead to them showing up at the mother’s farm where he’s doing experiments on pigs, one of them who is named Alexei after the Red Guardian. There’s the whole awkward family reunion thing that doesn’t go well (where we have the infamous “the suit still fits” scene from the trailers) and then Melina calls to have the Red Room come down and abduct everyone. Natasha and Alexei go into cells while Yelena prepares to get her head cut open (Yes, they even draw the lines on her forehead.) while Milena goes and talks to Dreykov who, of course, isn’t actually dead despite what Natasha though. There’s one twist though. Milena and Natasha have some tech masks that make them look like each other so Milena is down in the cell and able to help Alexei escape while Natasha has a little chat with Dreykov who she apparently cannot kill. It’s weird how the mental programming that keeps her from harming him doesn’t stop her from trying with bladed weapons, it just seems to stop her at a certain radius like there’s a force field. If Natasha can’t pull a trigger, I’d think she wouldn’t be able to swing the blade. Instead, she suddenly stops in the same place every time. That makes no sense whatsoever. Has anyone heard of inertia? But, whatever. We find out that Taskmaster is actually Dreykov’s daughter (WTF!?) who wasn’t killed by the bomb either. It’s bad that he survived (with no apparent scarring or anything) but a little girl also survived a bomb going off right in the room they were in even if she did get some scars. I want to know how this all worked out. This is some pretty messed up creative liberties too since this “origin” has nothing to do with the Taskmaster in the comics who is male.
OK. Back to the actual story. Taskmaster is sent down to take care of Milena and the Red Guardian but they manage to trap her in a cell. The Widows come to fight Natasha and save Dreykov and she holds her own for a while but is just too outnumbered. Yelena breaks free, gets the vials from earlier and heads after the Widows. Yelena frees the Widows from the mind control before they are able to kill Natasha and Milena’s plan to ground the Red Room fails so she sends the whole thing into a death dive. (I guess I forgot to mention that it was miles up in the air. This is quite a fall.) There are enough explosions around to make Michael Bey proud and lots of action as Milena and Alexei escape after they can’t wait longer for the daughters, Natasha frees and then fights Taskmaster as everything falls apart, and Yelena sets forth a plan to finally kill Dreykov for sure. After all sorts of cool action scenes, all the good guys are safe and Taskmaster is cured of her mind control. We get a little bit of the now blonde Natasha before the end of it all.
There is a scene at the very end of the credits with Yelena at Natasha’s tombstone and the mysterious Valentina, who has popped up in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as well as this movie now, shows up telling Yelena that Hawkeye is to blame for Natasha’s death. I’m not sure if this is a set-up for the Disney+ Hawkeye show or something that will happen in a future movie, but we now know that she’s working with Yelena and U.S. Agent which sounds like she’s putting together her own version of the Avengers. I guess only time will tell where this will go.
Despite a few really questionable choices in the storyline, the movie is overall a lot of fun. It’s definitely worth a see though you’ll have to do so in a movie theatre unless you’re paying a chunk extra on your Disney+ to be able to stream it t here. Now that Black Widow is finally released, we’ve got Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, and Spider-Man: No Way Home coming out later this year. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the first film for 2022 is the one I’m really looking forward to though.