Black Widow, movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021) - Film review by KadmonBlack Widow, movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)
image © Marvel (Disney)

Article updated: 2021.08.25

The Black Widow (2021) is a high-tech fantasy action / thriller film. The movie was reviewed by Kadmon.

Product: Black Widow, movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)

Original title: Black Widow

Series: Marvel Cinematic Universe

Setting: alternate fantasy Earth (Marvel Universe - Marvel Cinematic Universe)

Previous films in the series with Black Widow: Iron Man 2 (2010), The Avengers (2012), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Later films in the series with Black Widow: Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Product type: Film, Genre: high-tech fantasy action / thriller, Style: sci-fi, thriller, action, high-tech, fantasy, super-heroes

Release: Premiere: 2021.07.03 (Taormina Film Festival), Release: 2021.07.07

Reviewer: Kadmon, Type: Male, 40s, Preferences: Immersive, logical story, consistent setting, prefers surprises to spoilers, prefers establishing elements before referencing them

Watched: very recent (2021.01), first time

Rating: Average (2 out of 3 points), Enjoyment: Average (2 out of 3 points)

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This is my review of Black Widow, a high-tech fantasy action / thriller movie from 2021. It's about a super-spy forced into hiding, trying to take down the organisation she worked for. The Black Widow film is watchable, I recommend it to fans of action films or Marvel movies.

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Review (spoiler-free) - Black Widow, movie (2021)

I knew there's going to be a Black Widow movie for a long time. I don't say I've eagerly waited for it, but since I tend to watch every Marvel movie sooner or later, I knew I'll most likely watch it. After I've seen the trailer, I was intrigued by the possible story. When I had the chance, I've watched it.

The Black Widow movie is about a super-spy forced into hiding, trying to take down the organisation she worked for.

The story is strange, as it's about Black Widow, but we don't really get to know her. It is consistent, but consistently average. There are no character arcs. Basically it's episodic enough that there's no change to the world from its start to the end. There are only minor logical problems. The action scenes are technically good, they take place in interesting sets, but there's practically no tension because there's no feeling of immediacy, and we already know the outcome of those fights.

Compared to other Marvel movies, it's similar in scale to the Captain America movies, and similar in story to the Captain America: Winter Soldier film, but it's probably less interesting. For a contemporary action movie, I don't think it's exciting enough, and for a Marvel movie, I feel that it's not fantastic enough. I actually prefer "street-level" Marvel movies like Black Widow or Spider-Man to the epic world-shattering cosmic stories like Avengers: Endgame, but I still found Black Widow lacking.

Also, the usual comedic elements of Marvel movies is missing in this one. There are some jokes in the dialogue, but overall, there's not many funny moments.

The cinematography is good, it's usually clear what is happening on the screen. Visually it was interesting, and we get a wide variety of vistas and action scenes.

The characters are not very interesting or well developed. We only get glimpses about them. They portrayed fine by the actors, I especially liked the performance of David Harbour. Since I know that Scarlett Johansson is a great actress, I feel that the movie didn't really gave her the opportunity to showcase her abilities.

The music (by Lorne Balfe) is great. It was probably the best thing in the movie for me.

Black Widow is a watchable high-tech fantasy action / thriller, I think fans of the genre could enjoy it.

My experience

I was okay with Black Widow (2021), but didn't find it particularly interesting.

Rating: Average (2 out of 3 points). Black Widow is a well-made film, with a weak story.

Enjoyment: Average (2 out of 3 points). Black Widow is watchable.

Rewatchability: I'm not sure. If you are really into action movies, you might find it interesting to watch it multiple times.

Chance of watching it again: Nope. I've seen it once, and that was enough.

Chance of watching a sequel: Yeah, I'll probably watch it, no matter how average this installment was.

Black Widow, movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021) - Film review by KadmonBlack Widow, movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)
image © Marvel (Disney)

Will you enjoy this?

If you are interested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you'll probably watch Black Widow, no matter what.

If you are a fan of Scarlett Johansson, you might enjoy watching the movie, although her abilities are not really used here.

If you like action or thriller movies, you might like Black Widow.

If you'd like to watch an action comedy (Ant-Man, Spider-Man), this movie might be a disappointment.

If you like super-hero movies (Avengers, Justice League, Spider-Man), you might like the film, although there are not many action scenes with proper super-heros in the Black Widow movie.

If you hate super-hero movies, this is still a good fantasy action story, but it probably won't change your mind about the genre.

If you hate violence in movies, you might want to skip the Black Widow film, although the violence is not particularly graphic.

Do you need to see the previous films to enjoy this?

If you watch them, or at least Avengers and Captain America: Civil War, you'll understand the background of the story, and the character of Black Widow better.

Do you need to see the later films in the series to enjoy this?

You'll probably appreciate the character of Black Widow more if you watch the Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. However, if you intend to do that after Black Widow, you should skip the post-credit scene of Black Widow (2021), because it includes a major spoiler about those movies.

Watching for plot points

I don't think it's worth watching the Black Widow movie for the plot points.

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Black Widow, movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021) - Film review by KadmonBlack Widow, movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)
image © Marvel (Disney)

Review with spoilers - Black Widow, movie (2021)

I mostly liked the Black Widow movie, it's a watchable, though forgettable action flick.

The main problem is that the story of Black Widow is told in the other movies, and instead of giving her a proper story, completing her narrative, we are just shown a side-plot of that. Even the movie shows us that it's incomplete, as there's no definitive ending, the Black Widow just goes off for another adventure.

As we know that the Black Widow probably won't be back for another movie, and the character died in Avenger: Endgame, this would have been an opportunity to tie off any remaining plotlines. As this movie was a typical episodic story - introduce a villain, fight the villain, probably defeat the villain, but make sure that he could return in a sequel, don't change the status quo -, this was a missed opportunity in my opinion. Yes, the ending will allow Yelena to continue the quest of Natasha in a sequel, and destroy the rest of Red Room, freeing all those girls, but that should have been done by Natasha.

The "leaving the USA" part in the beginning was a fine start, it was a good way to show what will the girls miss when they get back to Russia. Although it would have worked better if it was set in the 80s, but then Natasha should have got that anti-aging serum she has in the comics.

Cover

The covers of the movie are okay, they don't spoil the movie.

Some of the preview posters however show Melina and Alexei in super-hero costumes that kind of spoil the story. When you see Alexei taking on the agents it the beginning, it's more tense if you don't know he's a super-hero. Also, the fact the Melina is a Black Widow would be better hidden from the audience.

The trailer

The latest trailer is okay. It shows enough action scenes that the film looks exciting, but not enough details that would spoil the story.

Promise of the first scene

There's a Russian spy family on the run in the USA. Their two girls get into a special training camp. I assume the girls will become super-spies, and we'll probably see them in action while they are working for Russia, before at least one of them, the Black Widow, will leave them. The other girl will be still working for Russia, causing some conflict for the Black Widow.

Execution: Well, almost. The girls did become super-spies all right, but by the time the story starts, both of them are free of the influence of the Russian spymaster. What did surprise me that their parents also came back to the story to join them in the final fight.

I don't know why, but I thought that the whole story will take place in the past, similarly to Captain Marvel. So the fact that it took place just slightly in the past also surprised me.

Plot summary / Synopsis

In 1995 we see a family with kids in the USA, when the father arrives. It turns out they are Russian spies, who have been uncovered when they stole some secret information, so they have to flee. The man (David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov) and woman (Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff) get the kids to an airplane, while fighting against American agents. They get to Cuba, where the kids are taken away to the Red Room for Black Widow training.

In 2016 we see one of these girls, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), who became the Black Widow of the Avengers. During the events of Captain America: Civil War she became a fugitive, so she is chased by SHIELD agents, lead by General Ross (William Hurt). She gets to a safe house in Norway.

We also see the other girl, Yelena Belov (Florence Pugh), still being a Black Widow agent, on a mission to take down a rogue agent. She kills the target, but she is sprayed with a gas, clearing her from the mind control. She realises what she had done, and flees with the antidote.

In Norway, Natasha gets mail, then she gets attacked by the Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko). At first she thinks that the Taskmaster wants to get her back to SHIELD, but realises that the target is actually her mail, that contains the antidote. Natasha flees with the pack, to meet with Yelena in Budapest. Although Natasha was sure that she had killed General Dreykov, the director of the Red Room, Yelena tells her that he is alive and the organisation is still active. They are attacked by Black Widow agents, then also by the Taskmaster. They flee on board of a helicopter.

Natasha and Yelena get to a Russian prison to free Alexei Shostakov. Then, as Alexei doesn't know much about the Red Room, the three of them visit Melina Vostokoff, who is still a Red Room agent. Melina reports them, so they get attacked by Red Room agents, taking all four of them to the flying Red Room base. There it turns out that "Melina" is actually Natasha, wearing a mask, and she tries to kill General Dreykov, but she is unable to, because Dreykov has a defence pheromone, preventing anyone who smells it from causing him harm. The other three get out of the prison, and sabotage the Red Room base, so it starts to explode. Taskmaster is revealed to be the daughter of Dreykov, whom Natasha thought to have killed previously. Yelena uses the antidote to free all of the Black Widow agents in the room. The base explodes, and they all jump out. They think they have killed Dreykov. Natasha has a fight with Taskmaster while falling, but then she uses the antidote to free her mind. They escape from the SHIELD agents, closing in the distance.

We see Natasha taking off with an Avengers quinjet, to free some people (probably the Avengers from the Raft).

In the post-credit scene we see Yelena mourning at Natasha's grave. Then Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) gives her the task of killing Clint Barton.

The setting

The setting is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, an alternate fantasy Earth, set during / after the events of the Captain America: Civil War.

In this particular movie, we only see technological advancements, there's no magic, gods or aliens in the story.

Black Widow, movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021) - Film review by KadmonBlack Widow, movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)
image © Marvel (Disney)

The message of the story

Something along the line of "child trafficking is bad" or "brainwashing children is bad".

Or maybe "even if you get stupid as you age, you can still remain the head of a super spy organisation".

The structure of the story

The scenes of the Black Widow film are mostly played in sequence, following the same storyline. There are some flashback scenes throughout the story. There are also hidden events revealed in flashbacks, that I don't like.

It has the usual arc of the dramatic structure - beginning, action, resolution.

Plot points of interests

The were some changes to the setting and characters.

Forces

  • Red Room: There's a secret organisation, called Red Room, who recruits and trains "black widows" from girls. Black Widow destroys their headquarters in the past, and she destroys it again in the present.

Changes to characters

  • Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow: After she leaves the Avengers in Civil War, she reconnects with her agent collegues (Alexei, Melina and Yelena), with whom she lived together as a child.

New characters

  • Alexei Shostakov, the Red Guardian: Russian super-soldier and spy.
  • Melina Vostokoff: Russian scientist and spy. One of the Black Widows.
  • Yelena Belova: Black Widow's "sister". One of the Black Widows.
  • General Dreykov: The director of the Red Room.
  • Antonia Dreykov, the Taskmaster: The daughter of the director of the Red Room.

Characters killed

  • General Dreykov is thought to be killed, but as we don't see him die, it's unlikely that it's really true

Technology

  • Red Dust: There's a red gas that is able to cure (maybe even prevent) mind control.

Fan-service

Elements referencing scenes or events from previous films or comics:

  • Budapest mission: Mentioned before, and we get some info on her Budapest mission with Hawkeye. We also get to see Budapest.
  • Taskmaster's movements: Taskmaster mimics the fighting moves of the heroes from the previous movies.
  • Black Widow pose: Yelena makes fun of it.
  • Black Widow's white suit: From the Black Widow: Deadly Origin (2010) comics.
  • Crimson Dynamo: Mentioned by Yelena.
  • Black Widow's vest: She wears it in Avengers: Infinity War. We learn that it was actually Yelena's.
  • Blond hair in the end: That's how she will look in Avengers: Endgame.

Parallels with other stories

There are many similarieis in the Black Widow film to Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

  • Stealing information: Both story starts with stealing information from the enemy.
  • The organisation uses brainwashed soldiers: Happens in both story.
  • Turning traitor: In Winter Soldier, it's actually the whole organisation that turns traitor, while Captain America remains true. In Black Widow, it's the Black Widow who escapes from the organisation.
  • Trying to destroy an evil organisation: It's Hydra in Winter Soldier, Red Room in Black Widow.
  • Enemy from the past: Both protagonists are hunted by an enemy from their past, who is brainwashed and hidden behind the mask to keep this connection secret. In Winter Soldier, Captain America is hunted by Bucky. In Black Widow, she is hunted by Antonia Dreykov, a girl she thinks she has killed.
  • Enemy beyond the grave: Both protagonists find out that one of their old enemies is behind the secret plan of the evil organisation. In Winter Soldier, it's Arnim Zola, a former Nazi scientist, long thought dead. In Black Widow, it's General Dreykov, a former Russian communist spymaster, whom the Black Widow thought she had killed.
  • Gathering heroes: The protagonists get help from super-heroes. In Winter Soldier, it's the Falcon. In Black Widow, it's the Red Guardian.
  • Black Widow uses special mask to disguise herself as a member of the evil organisation to get close to the leader: She does the same trick in both movies.
  • Final battle: In both stories, the final battle takes place on a flying base, that gets destroyed, falling to the ground.

As found by JM McNab, there are parallels to Moonraker.

Moonraker (1979)

  • A clip from Moonraker is shown in Black Widow.
  • Flying base: It's a space base in Moonraker, a sky base in Black Widow.
  • Free fall fight: It's in the beginning of Moonraker, and the end of Black Widow.
  • Visually distinct henchman: It's Jaws in Moonraker, and Taskmaster in Black Widow.
  • The henchman turns against the master: Jaws turns against Drax, while Taskmaster is freed from the influence of Dreykov.

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Things I liked

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How does it compare to the other works of the creators?

From one of the story writers (Jac Schaeffer) I have seen Olaf's Frozen Adventure (2017), that was also watchable.

From the other story writer (Ned Benson) I haven't seen anything.

From the screenplay writer (Eric Pearson), I've seen a couple of films. Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) was worse than Black Widow. Thor: Ragnarok was similarly average, although it had more interesting scenes.

I haven't seen any works of the director (Cate Shortland).

How does it compare to the other films in the series?

The Black Widow movie doesn't compare favorably to the other films in the series. Unless you consider Captain Marvel, then Black Widow is definitely better.

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Black Widow, movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021) - Film review by KadmonBlack Widow, movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)
image © Marvel (Disney)

Problems with the story - Black Widow, movie (2021)

I mostly liked the story, I didn't find major problems that would have prevented me from enjoying Black Widow, although the small problems still bugged me.

Problematic elements

Red Guardian: I'm not entirely sure how does Red Guardian fit into the picture. As Captain America was not awake in the 70-80s, he couldn't have been his Soviet counterpart, like in the comics. Even Marvel divorced from this idea in the Ultimate Marvel universe. Making him a spy is a waste of his talent, and they even mention this in the movie, so I don't know why did they use that in the plot. Also, if the Red Guardian believed in the Soviet system like he seems to believe even now, it would make him a really bad agent for the Russians, as the required philosophy is quite different.

Red Guardian vs Captain America: He seems to really believe that he fought against Captain America, and I don't understand why. When he boasts about his fight against him in the prison, those could be just tall tales. However, he asks Natasha whether Captain America used to talk about him, and that implies to me that he thinks that Cap would be able to remember him.

Escape with the plane: As The Critical Drinker points out, it's highly unlikely that the small civilian plane could shake off the military jets that would chase them. So it seems that SHIELD just gave up when they've seen that the plane got into the sky.

Cuba: The story starts in 1995, a couple of years after the fall of the Soviet Union, so I'm not entirely sure if Cuba would be so friendly to Russians as it would have welcomed Soviets before the fall.

Red Guardian is dumb: I find it strange that the Red Guardian is comically stupid in the story, yet, he was sent to an important spy mission earlier. If he was as dumb in the 90s as he is in the current story, it would have compromised the mission.

Army of Black Widows: As Mike from RedLetterMedia mentions, Natasha as the Black Widow lost her uniqueness now that we see there are plenty of Black Widows like her. If she were a one-shot experiment, or the only one who survived the training, it might have made her character better.

Natasha's super powers: In the MCU, she actually doesn't have any. She is not enhanced. She doesn't regenerate quickly. Yet the movie treats her like she has super powers. She gets blown up multiple times, but it's just a minor inconvenience to her. She falls to her death, hitting every possible outcropping during the fall, yet she is unaffected.

Elena, the invincible: Probably less invulnerable than Natasha, but Elena still seems to receive a lot of potentially fatal injuries, that doesn't seem to effect her in any way.

First killing of Dreykov: The explosion looks like it would kill anyone. But we know that Antonia just got some scars, while Dreykov survived unscathed. For me this would require a bit more explanation.

The Red Dust: Who developed the Red Dust? It's unlikely that it would be a Red Room research, as they sure won't like to have a serum like this. So, it's probably made by another secret agency, probably similar in importance to Red Room, but we don't get to know anything else about it. For this agency, destroying the Red Room would probably just make an opportunity to take over the world without competition.

Hiding in Norway: Although red hair is probably more common in Norway than in the USA, it could be still useful to change it to something else, to avoid easy detection, and also to avoid gathering attention to herself in public.

Armoured cars: Unlike in other movies, where cars explode by any shot from a firearm, in Black Widow, cars seem to be able to withstand extreme damage. When Taskmaster shoots a car with an RPG that could take out a tank, the car just bounces. When Taskmaster uses another shot, with probably the equivalent of an RPG explosion, the car bounces, falls into a subway tunnel though the stairs, but nothing serious happens to it, or the passengers.

The ambush in Norway: As The Critical Drinker points out, how does the Taskmaster know that Natasha will be at that spot? If Taskmaster knew that Natasha has the package, why didn't she just storm Natasha's safe house? If the fuel for the generator didn't run out, poor Taskmaster would have to wait a couple of days on that bridge for Natasha. What would have happened if Natasha didn't put the package into the car? In that case Taskmaster would have put herself at unneccessary risk.

Taskmaster's goal: What exactly does Taskmaster want with the antidote? If she wants to destroy them, fine, but if she was tasked with recovering them, blowing up the car is not the best plan to do that.

Humanitarian Terminator: As The Critical Drinker points out, it's very nice of Taskmaster to only care about the package. Taskmaster has plenty of opportunities to kill Natasha, but she doesn't use them, as she uses these opportunities to move towards the package. After the first time, I'd assume that Taskmaster would just kill Natasha, so she wouldn't be able to keep her from getting the package. Also, killing Natasha, as a traitor who escaped from the Red Room, would be probably high on their priorities, so this is additionally strange.

Hiding the antidote: As The Critical Drinker points out, Natasha has to be some kind of magician to be able to open the protective case, hide the contents in her dress, then be able to fight while they don't break all those fragile vials.

Fight with Yelena: Now, this fight looks cool, showcases how well Yelena and Natasha can fight, and totally unneccessary considering the plot. Yelena knows that Natasha escaped, so she sends the package to her - although she could have done it in a little more open way. Natasha doesn't know that it was Yelena who sent the package, or that Yelena is free of the Red Room's influence, so the confusion is fine on her part. But Yelena could have cleared the whole situation with a sentence or two, so they didn't need to destroy the furniture in the flat.

It probably would have worked if Natasha wore some kind of mask, hiding her identity. Then Natasha would have seen a Red Room agent, and Yelena would have seen an assassin, trying to take her back to the agency.

Yelena in Budapest: As The Critical Drinker points out, how does Yelena know about the safe house in Budapest? She also seems to be connected to the Agent, so are they in speaking terms? Or did she just follow the Agent here, and hid the antidote in the package the Agent took to Natasha?

The BTR on the streets: The APC that Taskmaster drives on the streets of Budapest seemed fake for me. It didn't move right. It didn't feel like it has the right weight. I'm not sure if it was digitally insterted, or if it was some light stunt vehicle, but it felt odd.

Black Widow's secret compartment: What are the odds that they fall into the subway at the exact spot where Natasha knows a secret place to hide? That's still there, after all those years?

Public talking: I find it odd and unprofessional that they talk about secret things, like Natasha being an avenger, while trying to hide, while they are in a public place with people around them.

Public walking: Also, being in public without a disguise could be extemely dangerous for them, as Natasha is hunted by SHIELD who probably have access to camera feeds around the world. Even if they don't, I'm pretty sure Iron Man does, and at the moment he is trying to hunt down Natasha. And the gas station where they do the talking sure has a safety camera on.

Black Widow pose: When Yelena makes fun of Natasha, it might have been working in any other movie, but leaving some dignity to Natasha would have been better here, because we know that she'll die before changing her ways. I also find it odd that she did the whole thing in public. Even if the people around them don't understand what they talk about, striking that pose will certainly draw attention to them.

Plane for the rescue: If Natasha knew where she wanted to go, what was her plan with the plane? It looks like the only place to land that plane would have been in the middle of the prison complex. Outside of that there's no way she could have landed, then be able to take off. So she was pretty lucky her guy could only get a helicopter.

White outfit: A small thing, but if she is the "Black Widow", and she wears black in all the other installments, why does she wear white most of the time in this one? For the end battle she switches to black, at last. For Yelena, it might have been more fitting, as her name Belova means "daughter of White".

Waiting for the rescue: How long were Natasha and Yelena hiding in the mountains until Alexei got his Red Guardian doll? They couldn't know when the mail will be delivered to the prison, or when will the guards give it to Alexei.

Rescue from the jail: The guards realise there's an inmate trying to escape. The guards have guns. They also see a helicopter hovering over the jail. Why don't they just open fire on that immediately? Also, we see that this is not some armoured military chopper. When they do open fire, the helicopter seems to withstand damage pretty well.

Melina's hideout: How does Alexei know where to look for her? Or that she has smelly pigs? Did she use the same house before 1996, when Alexei was imprisoned? Did she experiment with pigs even back then?

Hiding events from the audience: They do this when it's revealed that Melina is actually a disguised Natasha, and later again when it's revealed that Natasha was prepared for the pheromone. This is a cheap trick for lazy writers.

Flying to the base: Why is it that Melina is flying the plane? Did something happen to the pilot that took it to the ground?

Leaving the heroes without guards: If Dreykov knew that it's a trick, why did he left them unguarded? It's one thing that he wanted to give some falso hope to Natasha, so he could reveal the truth, making her hurt, but leaving the others is just stupid. Also, letting Yelena in with the hidden knife and the earpiece is beyond stupid.

The pheromone: I accept the pheromone thing as part of the Marvel Universe. Also that a punch in the head can disconnect nerves in the Marvel Universe. However, that still begs the question how far does the pheromone work? What would have happened if Natasha would just shoot Dreykov from a distance, before even getting close to him to smell the pheromone? Does it work in a way that after smelling the pheromone, there's some working time that influences the victim, or does it only work as long as the victim is in smelling distance?

It's a lucky thing that Yelena was not affected in any way, so she was able to hurt Dreykov.

Red Room director: Even if he is sure that the Black Widow won't be able to hurt him, she could still do things to the computer. The man doesn't look stupid, he would probably prefer to have a couple of bodyguards around.

The antidote: If the Red Room people know that there's a gas that is able to free their mind controlled slaves, why don't they order them to wear a gasmask?

The Red Room base: The whole place looks like a piece of bad engineering. An explosion from a single grenade is enough to cause the whole thing to be destroyed. There are no additional stabilising engines, the whole base seems to just fall apart.

Taskmaster fighting the Red Guardian: This would have been a great scene. When it started, I was actually excited to see some fun combat between the two. But their fight didn't really get the proper focus, then it was also cut short. I'd be really happy for an extended scene in an alternate cut.

Fight against the Black Widows: When this happens, lots of blinding lights and lots of red lights are present. I've found them distracting, and it made the action harder to see.

Killing the director: This is the second time the Black Widow blows up the guy. He survived the first time. Why does she think that this second explosion will be enough? Doesn't she learn from her mistakes?

Forgiving evil deeds: Alexei and Melina were not brainwashed, they seem to be genuinely evil. Alexei seems to be dumb evil, so forgiving that might be okay, but Melina is highly intelligent, so I'm pretty sure she knows the consequences of her work. Yet, because they turn against Red Room, their sins seem to be forgiven.

Yelena's vest: The whole scene is a filler, only to draw attention to the vest that Natasha will wear in the sequel.

The quinjet: It's s small thing, but in the end, Natasha and the Agent is on an open field, with a lone quinjet. Natasha jokes about what kind of lame vehicle did the guy get for her, then we are shown the quinjet for a comedic effect. This might be a fun moment, but it would have been very hard for Natasha to not notice the plane on the field, as it was not hidden.

Taskmaster: It's just my personal problem, but I didn't like this take on the Taskmaster. One of his things was that he taunted heroes, to make them less effective. He was also an overall fun character in the comics. For me, Taskmaster lost this kind of charm in the movie. They might make Taskmaster an interesting character in future movies, but this was a bad start.

Red Room: The name is somewhat lame. It would be okay to call a red room, where training or brainwashing is happening, a Red Room, but as the name of an organisation, it's a bit weak. Especially as it's not related to red Soviets any more, and current Russians make sure to distance themselves from the ideas of Lenin.

Vodka: I know it's a Russian stereotype, but the constant presence of bottles of Vodka was a bit tiring after a while.

Unanswered questions

What will happen to the pigs? Who will take care of them?

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Possibilities of improvement

  • Red Guardian: When the movie starts, let him be a regular spy, who receives his super powers later on. Maybe receiving those powers made his intelligence lower. Add dialogue to make this clear.
  • Let Melina be the source of the Red Dust: Add dialogue, revealing that it was Melina who tried to take down the organisation. With this addition, cut the dialogue revealing that Melina gave them up.
  • Cut the flashbacks showing us Natasha and Melina planned the things: I think it's unneccessary, and most viewer will probably get it without the extra explanations.
  • Making sure Dreykov is dead: Show us his corpse. Let us know that he is dead.
  • Let us know that all those girls are free: Add dialogue, explaining that without the computers in the flying base, all those girls we have seen are now free of the Red Room's influence.

How it could have been better?

Let is be Natasha who makes sure that every Red Room agent is totally free. Let us see that Red Room research is destroyed and the antidote is available everywhere around the world. Let the audience know that she is victorious, and there won't be any more Black Widow training. That could complete her arc.

If you want to get the same story, it would have been better if Dreykov, Yelena and the Taskmaster were established earlier in the story, although it would be pretty hard to put them in previous movies retroactively. Otherwise it would be better to use characters that were actually established in previous movies.

RedLetterMedia proposes a start where Natasha tries to hide and blend in, working as some ordinary waitress, when she gets in some criminal activity (a mugging, robbery), and her training kicks in, stopping the criminals. But that gets her on a security camera, get her noticed by SHIELD or Red Room, as they realise she is not an ordinary waitress, and this starts the events we see in the movie. This would give some basis for the attack of Taskmaster. There might be some humorous fish-out-of-water moments as she tries to live a regular life.

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Black Widow, movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021) - Film review by KadmonBlack Widow, movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2021)
image © Marvel (Disney)

Uses for the film - Black Widow, movie (2021)

Plot

  • An evil organisation wants to take over the control of the world.
  • A group creates a device against the controlling method of an evil organisation.
  • An agent turns against her former organisation, and takes revenge on her former master.
  • There are lots of sleeper agents around the world, who are secretly brainwashed super assassins.

Scenes

  • The rescue from jail scene could be used to show a rescue from a jail.
  • The scene in the end where they fight while falling through debris looks cool.

Scenarios - Role-playing game

 

Scenarios - Wargame

  • Rescue: Like the rescue in Space Sweepers, with the addition that tere's some catastrophe coming (carpet bombing, ocean tide, vulcanic eruption, avalanche), so they have limited time. The edge of the playing area will be hit first, then the problem comes closer. There are safe places on the playing area that the attackers can hide in. If the attackers can't catch the escaping team, they should hide, otherwise the casualties will lower their victory points.
  • Falling to pieces: During the fight, random places explode or get removed from the playing area. The playing area is either floating, hanging above something, or it's just one of the levels in a multi-level building. At the beginning of every turn, roll randomly for d3-1 explosions and d2-1 destructions. Assign these on random places of the playing area. If the area explodes, it damages everyone in the zone. If it gets destroyed, every unit or objective is removed from the zone, as they fall off. If a unit is able to fly, it can survive the event, but it still gets the explosion damage.
  • Danger zone: While the fight goes on, debris falls on random places, probably from a battle above them. You'll need some small shadow markers, and some large shadow markers, to depict shadows on an area. You'll also need some small debris and large debris markers, to depict debris falling on the area. At the beginning of every turn, roll a d6 for every shadow marker. If you roll a 6, the falling debris finally hits the ground. The small debris causes damage to everyone in its zone, and to everyone who enters the zone during the turn. It also cause a decrease in the rolls of the units in the zone - for example, they could be considered pinned. The large debris causes so much damage that it will most likely kill every unit and destroy every building or vehicle in the zone. The zone of the large debris is blocked during the turn. After the falling test,  roll randomly to place d3-1 small shadows and d2-1 large shadows. Assign these shadows on random places of the playing area.
  • Free fall: The units are fighting while falling, played on rolling area. There are large pieces they can collide with while falling, and small pieces that can fall on them. At the beginning of every turn, move the large scenery pieces by one movement upwards, removing the large scenery pieces from the top. If any model gets in the way of their movement, that model gets a hit, and the model is pushed away, getting on top of the scenery piece. If a model can't get off a large scenery piece by the time it leaves the playing area, the model also gets removed from play. Then roll d3-1 to see how many new large scenery pieces should you place on the bottom. Now, move the small scenery pieces downwards with one movement, removing the small scenery pieces from the bottom. If any model gets in the way of their movement, that model gets a hit, and pushed one movement away in a random direction towards the bottom. If there's another scenery in the way, it gets another hit. If there's a model in the way, both of them get hit.

Miniatures - 1/50-1/60 (28-32mm scale)

Red Room planes: Super-large flyer. GCPS flyers for Warpath from Mantic Games look similar.

Red Room soldiers: Modern or futuristic human-sized soldiers in full armour and helmet.

Pigs: Small or Human-sized pigs.

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Similar stories - Black Widow, movie (2021)

Comics

Black Widow v6 #1-12 (2016-2017): The Black Widow is on the run from SHIELD. She goes to the Red Room to free fellow members, who are still brainwashed slaves.

Bloodshot: A brainwashed suprer-soldier gets free, and turns against his former organisation.

Wolverine: Weapon-X stories: A brainwashed suprer-soldier gets free, and turns against his former organisation.

Movies

Bloodshot (2020): A brainwashed suprer-soldier gets free, and turns against his former organisation.

Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014): Also set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The protagonist steals information from an enemy. Then it turns out he is working for the wrong people, so he turns against them. One of the enemy leaders is a man the protagonist thought had died decades ago. A dangerous enemy hunts him, whose identity is a secret, but he is tied to the past of the protagonist. The final battle is on a flying base, that gets destroyed and falls to the ground.

RoboCop (1987): A brainwashed suprer-soldier gets free, and turns against his former organisation. A dangerous enemy hunts him, who is tied to the past of the protagonist.

Universal Soldier (1992): A brainwashed suprer-soldier gets free, and turns against his former organisation. A dangerous enemy hunts him, who is tied to the past of the protagonist, and the protagonist killed him in the past.

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Frequently asked questions - Black Widow, movie (2021)

Is the Black Widow film based on a book or comics?

Partially. The Black Widow movie is inspired by the Black Widow in the Marvel comics, specificially the 2016-2017 12 issue series about the Black Widow freeing the brainwashed members of the Red Room. However, it's not a direct adaptation of that story.

Is there a post credit scene in Black Widow?

Yes, there's a post credit scene in Black Widow. It includes a major spoiler for Avengers: Endgame, so skip this scene if you you intend to watch Endgame.

Where can I watch Black Widow online? Is Black Widow available on Netflix? Is Black Widow on Amazon?

As of 2021.07.10, Black Widow is on Disney+.

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Resources - Black Widow, movie (2021)

Official

Black Widow: Official article.

Information

IMDB: Black Widow 2021: Database article.

WikiPedia: Black Widow (2021 film): Database article.

Letterboxd: Black Widow 2021: Database article.

Rotten Tomatoes: Black Widow 2021: Database article.

Reviews with no spoilers - Black Widow film (2021)

: Review video about the Black Widow film with no spoilers.¤

Reviews with no spoilers - Black Widow film (2021) - Hungarian

Gabe March (for GeekWorld): Budapest brawl – Black Widow MOVIE RECOMMENDATION (in Hungarian): Review article of the Black Widow movie, without spoilers, in Hungarian.

English version by Google Translate

Reviews with spoilers - Black Widow film (2021)

The Critical Drinker: Black Widow - Clumsy, Dumb and Disappointing: Review video of the Black Widow movie, with spoilers. Includes a very detailed plot summary.Ł

RedLetterMedia: Half in the Bag: Black Widow: Review video of the Black Widow movie, with spoilers.Ł

Analysis - Black Widow movie (2021)

George Ryan (for Screen Rant): Black Widow Pitch Meeting: Humorous analysis video about the problems of the movie.Ł

JM McNab: A Throwaway Gag In 'Black Widow' Foreshadowed The Big Ending: Analysis article about the parallels with Moonraker.

Ryan Arey (for ScreenCrush): BLACK WIDOW: Every EASTER EGG and Marvel Reference | Full MCU BREAKDOWN: Analysis video, explaining the references in Black Widow.Ł

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Buying the product - Black Widow, movie (2021)

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Have you seen the Black Widow film for the Marvel Cinematic Universe? How do you like the movie? Would you recommend it to others? Do you know reviews or resources you'd like to add? What further thoughts do you have about it? Tell your opinion in the comments!

 

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