Action sequences, feminist themes executed with precision in ‘Black Widow’

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Courtesy of Marvel Studio

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff and Florence Pugh as Yelena

Elisha Nunez, Contributor

“I’ve lived a lot of lives… But I’m done running from my past.”-Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).

On July 9, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were given the opportunity to see Marvel’s “Black Widow” in theaters. The film serves as a solo movie for the Marvel character of Black Widow, who was introduced back in 2010 in “Iron Man 2”. This movie explores the character’s past, including how she became the Black Widow and continues to portray events concerning the character that took place between “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers Infinity War”.  

The opening scene depicts Natasha’s childhood in 1995. In a small town in Ohio, a young Natasha Romanoff (Ever Anderson) lives with her younger sister Yelena Belova (Violet McGraw), her mother Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) and her father Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour). Although the family appears to be normal, it is discovered that Natasha’s parents are in fact Russian spies posing as Americans in order to steal intel from S.H.I.E.L.D. After their operation is successful, the family flees to Cuba, where the daughters are taken to the Red Room, which is where young girls are trained and manipulated to become dangerous assassins. 

Now in 2016, Romanoff is on the run after becoming a fugitive for violating the Sokovia Accords. She flees to Norway and is supplied in a safehouse by a friend, Rick Mason (O.T. Fagbenle). While Romanoff is hiding in Norway, we see an adult Belova (Florence Pugh), who also became a black widow, has tracked down a former black widow in order to terminate her. After eliminating the rogue black widow, Belova is exposed to a synthetic gas that frees other widows from the mind-controlling chemical agent they were exposed to in the Red Room. As a result, Belova then takes the rest of the gas from the former agent and sends it to Romanoff, hoping she will go with her to free the other widows. After a series of action-filled sequences, Romanoff is later reunited with her younger sister and soon, the rest of her family.  

One of the multiple themes in “Black Widow” is family, as the audience observes certain action sequences with the family working together to take down the enemy and lighthearted, comedic scenes involving the family. What’s unfortunate about this family dynamic in the film, however, is that the Black Widow herself appears to be the sidekick in her own movie. With Florence Pugh’s stellar performance as Yelena Belova, along with Harbor’s and Weisz’s performances, Johansson’s character seems to be outshined by the performances of her fellow co-stars. The sad truth is that Black Widow’s main flaw comes from the title character, who is supposed to be the most memorable! 

Apart from the film’s lack of a profound main character, the action sequences however are directed greatly. As an action movie, there’s obviously supposed to be action and “Black Widow” has some pretty memorable, explosive scenes. With the scene involving Shostakov’s escape from a Russian prison to the action-packed finale involving the Red Room, the film sure packs a punch when it comes to hand-to-hand combat and fiery explosions.  

Another one of the film’s strong suits is the feminist undertone throughout the movie. The main villain of the movie is Dreykov, the man responsible for taking young girls and placing them in training to become deadly killers. In order to keep the women from turning on him or abandoning the organization, Dreykov keeps the widows under a mind controlling substance. In other words, Dreykov does not allow these women to make their own decisions and uses them to do his dirty work. A line from Dreykov himself proves this theme as he states that the most abundant resource in the world is “girls”. 

If I would give this movie a rating, it would most certainly obtain ⅗ stars. Overall, “Black Widow” is your average Marvel movie. Although the film lacks a profound main character, whereas the other cast members make their roles shine, “Black Widow” gets in touch with its themes of family and feminism, executing them through amazing action sequences.