I think I've seen every Marvel movie since Iron Man came out in 2008. I'm not proud of that fact, but it's true and I think it helps contextualize my thoughts on Black Widow - which, unfortunately, sucked. This is a shame, because most of the Marvel films have been pretty good.
In fact, I'd say that the Marvel films are probably the best franchise in the history of Hollywood. What Kevin Feige, the President of Marvel Studios, accomplished with the first 15 or so films is truly something worth celebrating - weaving a fairly intriguing storyline (and a huge cast of characters) through various different films and having it conclude in a semi-satisfying manner - is something that hasn't been done in cinema in my life time.
Now not ALL the Marvel movies have been great (Iron Man 2, Avengers 2, Thor 2, Dr. Strange, Captain Marvel, Ant Man 2 and Black Panther come time mind as ones that were mediocre and/or dog shit), but for every solid B-/C+ level good movie, we got one that was excellent - like Avengers 3, Captain America 2/3, and/or Thor 3.
All in all it's pretty damn impressive that Feige adapted some wacky comic books, made billions for Disney and (more or less) ruined Hollywood for over a decade by causing every studio to try and mimic his success.
Now for my hot take - I think Avengers 4 sucked, the Disney+ shows suck, the MCU is garbage now and Disney is going to start experiencing diminished returns.
Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson, the sheriff from Stranger Things, the chick from the Mummy and some other people, is a good example of how the franchise seems to have lost what made it fun for so long.
Lets start with the plot, which is boring, rife with plot holes and makes me like the main character less than I did before.
Essentially, Natasha Romanoff (our Black Widow) is on the run from the US Government, her sister is also a Black Widow and kills some former Black Widow, who cures the sister of her Black Widowdom with a special red medicine that deprograms Black Widow brainwashing, the sister sends the special red medicine to Natasha in hopes that Natasha would free all of the other thousands of Black Widows in the world, the bad guy in the movie (who is essentially Russian Harvey Weinstein) sends his top henchman to get the special red medicine because he wants to continue to prey on young women, Natasha and the henchman fight, Natasha escapes and then Natasha goes back to a safehouse she once had in Budapest, Natasha's sister is there and they almost kill each other (why?), they don't kill each other (would've been more interesting if they had), Natasha learns that she didn't kill Russian Harvey Weinstein, the sisters decide they want to kill Russian Harvey Weinstein, they don't know where Russian Harvey Weinstein and think that the only person who does is their surrogate dad, currently in prison, so the sisters team up to break him out of jail, they succeed but kill thousands of innocent prison guards and prisoners in an avalanche, the movie ignores all of their deaths, there is strange banter about hysterectomies among the sisters and their dad, the dad doesn't know where to find Russian Harvey Weinstein, the dad thinks the mom might know, the trio go to visit the mom, there is witty banter about their unorthodox "family", Russian Harvey Weinstein finds them and abducts all of them, Natasha was pretending to be her mom with magic face technology, Natasha tries to kill Russian Harvey Weinstein but he uses a pheromone (yes, really) to activate her Black Widowdom and prevent her from doing so, Natasha learns that Russian Harvey Weinstein's henchman is actually his daughter that Natasha thought she killed when trying to kill Russian Harvey Weinstein years prior, Natasha realizes if she breaks her nose or something the pheromone won't work on her, she proceeds to bang her head into a desk and can then kill Russian Harvey Weinstein, the family blows up Russian Harvey Weinstein's space station, they fly through the air, Natasha saves Russian Harvey Weinstein's henchman daughter with special red medicine and that's basically the movie. At least I think that's how it all went - but I fell asleep towards the end and can't say for certain.
Got all that? It's dumb and kind of makes Natasha's backstory somehow less interesting. Frankly, it was a boring movie. I know that it's weird to call a movie boring when it features characters battle each other while falling, without parachutes, from a floating sky base, but I've seen all this before and it just didn't do much for me.
If this movie had been released back when Marvel was releasing solo movies for the main Avengers characters, it might have been more serviceable. It would've been more interesting to learn more about this character and her family when we were still watching her in the present timeline. But a boring and over complicated plot for a character that we know is already dead (and that we knew a fair amount about already) just felt like a waste of time.
More than anything, this movie made the whole Marvel format seem very played out. The typical "Marvel Humor" which made these movies unique at their onset - now feels dated and downright cringeworthy. Let's take a look at this scene for example:
This is supposed to be funny, but it's just fucking weird and the attempts at humor fall flat. Moreover, we already knew that Natasha had been sterilized via a heart felt scene she had with Enormous Real-Life Asshole, Mark Ruffalo, in Avengers 2:
What was a beautiful scene of a warrior woman taking off her emotional armor in effort to connect with a man she finds herself falling in love with . . . becomes something that is played for a morbid gag.
Finally, this film asks its audience to endure extremely high levels of cognitive dissonance in order for them to enjoy what they're watching. We are supposed to root for our protagonist even though we watch her literally kill thousands of innocent prisoners and prison guards in an avalanche - while trying to break their fake father out of prison:
They show zero remorse about the people they just massacred and moments later start joking about their involuntary hysterectomies.
This stuff might be appear to be nit-picky for some people, but it takes me out of a movie when I have to start asking questions like did they just kill thousands of innocent people? Are we supposed to just ignore that or accept that it was somehow justified?
Unfortunately for Scarlett Johansson, the film that was supposed to be her big send-off from the MCU turned out to not do her character much justice. This is a shame because ScarJo has done a pretty good job as Black Widow, bringing smoldering intensity, but also showing the character's humanity in a way that few other members of the original Avengers cast were able to display. Oh, and I hope she sues the ever living shit out of Disney for breaking her contract and releasing the film on Disney+.
I don't have a personalized rating system yet, but on a scale of 1-10:
But, what do I know? I'm just an idiot with an opinion. Go watch it and decide for yourself.
Happy hump day and God Bless America.