The 522nd Film I have seen in theaters…
Set during the events of Captain America 3, Natasha Romanov is on the run from the authorities for siding with Cap in the Civil War. After receiving mail from her old apartment in Budapest, she is attacked by “The Taskmaster”. The villain is after something that was sent to Natasha. This sets her off on a journey to find her lost Russian “family”, and stop a plot to control the world.
Scarlett Johansson finally gets her solo film, and she is great in it. It felt like a good send off for the character, filling in the gaps in her history.
A standout here was Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, the closest thing to a sister Natasha had. They were both raised in the Black Widow program and lived for a time together as sisters while undercover as children. Her scenes were wonderful and she makes me excited to see where her character goes.
The great David Harbour appears as Alexei, the Red Guardian. He is the Soviet version of Captain America. This was another top notch peformance as Harbour, with great humor and humanity, tells us the tale of this broken man, Natasha’s “dad”.
O-T Flagbenle is Mason, a former Shield agent that aids Natasha in getting equipment, transport, and lodgings. He was only in a few scenes, but did a good job.
The villain of the piece. Ray Winstone plays General Dreykov, the man in charge of the Red Room; headquarters of the Black Widow program. He is easily the weakest of all the MCU baddies. In an earlier scene, Natasha is watching Moonraker on TV. That is actually some pretty good foreshadowing as Dreykov is essentially Hugo Drax. He even has a floating headquarters in the sky.
Rounding out the cast is the always excellent Rachel Weisz. She is Melina, a former Black Widow, and the closest thing Natasha and Yelena have to a mother.
This was a good entry in the MCU, far from the best, but nowhere near the worst (looking at you Thor: Dark World). It did what it needed to do, flesh out the character of , now deceased, Natasha Romanov. I was wondering if this film would find a loophole to resurrect our heroine, but it did not and it is the better for it. The post credits scene does a WONDERFUL job of tying into Falcon & Winter Soldier while setting up 2 things:
1:The new Hawkeye show
2: A “Dark Avengers” team.
I’ll explain, spoilers ahead.
The current MCU takes place 6-7 years after the events of Black Widow. In that time, it is revealed that Yelena has aligned with Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, whom in the comics has been a love interest for Nick Fury and also gone by the moniker: Madame Hydra. It is not shown exactly what her character is, but it definitely is reminiscent of how Sam Jackson gathered the original Avengers. She has a Captain America (US Agent). Now it is revealed she has a Black Widow (Yelena). All she needs is a Hawkeye (whom she sends Yelena after in the final scene), Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man.
I’ve been hearing rumor in the Hulk world that General Ross, William Hurt, may follow his comic destiny and become the Red Hulk. Tatiana Maslany is also starring in the She-Hulk Disney+ series alongside Mark Ruffalo and Tim Roth as the Abomination. As Abomination is also appearing in Shang Chi, he might be a contender.
The Hawkeye show, which I am now 100% invested in, involves Barton (Jeremy Renner) possibly training a new Hawkeye played by Hailee Steinfeld. She might be Val’s recruit by series end.
Her Thor, I have no idea. Possibly Loki?
Her Iron Man, though, I have some real ideas about. She mentions in this film that she is not paid enough, hinting that she has a boss. In Falcon & Winter Soldier, Sharon Carter is on the phone with her mysterious boss. I think they are one and the same. If rumors are to be believed, and they typically are not, this boss may be none other than Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin.
Now, we know Norman is coming eventually. He’s too important to Spider-Man to NOT appear. The question remains in what form he appears. Spidey 3 is rumored to feature Willem Dafoe returning as the character. This will likely be an alternate universe version, but it does not preclude him from appearing in the main series. I’d personally like a recast, hearing that Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey are mentioned, but you can’t go wrong with Dafoe. Norman has, at times, been something of a mentor to young Peter Parker, a role Iron Man played in the MCU. Aside from this, the comics may provide further evidence:
You may recall this scene from Iron Man 3. The US Government reveals its own Iron Man. This is known as the Iron Patriot armor. And who, you ask, was the Iron Patriot in the comics? Norman F’ing Osborn. What team did Iron Patriot lead? The Dark Avengers. Not conclusive, but I am sticking with this for now. FUN speculation!
Go see Black Widow!