Black Widow is the movie to make me realize that, maybe I don’t need to see every MCU release. Part of it likely had to do with the theater where I saw it, where the screen is always too dark and the sound is always too loud, but I didn’t enjoy this movie at all.
At this point, many of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are just starting to bleed together. Apart from entries like Black Panther or the Guardians of the Galaxy flicks, these movies are all too interconnected for me, which makes it more difficult to get invested.
Movies like Black Widow and Ant-Man and the Wasp aren’t totally thematically lacking, but their themes aren’t their main purpose. Rather, it feels like — at least to me — that these movies are more interested in filling plot holes, gaps in a character’s history, and setting up the next movie. Spider-Man: Far From Home is a good example of using the rest of the MCU to generate a character arc, but I think outside of Avengers movies, that and Iron Man 3 are probably the only entries to integrate successfully.
All of this is to say, Black Widow doesn’t feel like it says anything on its own. It has the most generic found family storyline that leads into some discussion of what family and belonging really mean, but all of three five to eight minute scenes were devoted to that idea. Remember, we can’t spend too much time developing characters or ideas because we have explosions, overly-cut action sequences, punchlines, and references to the other movies in this franchise to shove in.
On a whole, Black Widow feels so disconnected from the rest of the MCU because of how little it ends up doing. It seems more akin to something like Rogue One or Solo because it’s thrown in after the character of Black Widow has actually been killed off. Of course, this inevitably makes you wonder why it took so long for this movie to be made in the first place. The MCU was a boys’ club in regards to who could get solo outings until 2019’s Captain Marvel, and even now, two years later, it doesn’t seem like Marvel knows how to handle this kind of character.
For a movie titled Black Widow, Black Widow herself doesn’t seem to appear as often as you think she would. And when she does, it feels like 20% of the shots were done by Joss Whedon — the low, below-the-waist shots here are ridiculous and the type of thing I haven’t seen since Whedon himself was sadly allowed to make movies.
Apart from the monotony of this movie, there is barely anything that stands out. The story is bland and convoluted, the editing and CGI are perhaps the worst I’ve seen from Marvel, and it just feels like more connective tissue than a movie in its own right.
Fortunately, we have Florence Pugh here to save the day. After the back-to-back knockout performances of Midsommar and Little Women, Pugh cashed in her chips to join the MCU, and frankly, good for her. Hopefully with Black Widow and the upcoming Hawkeye show under her belt, she can do more projects that show off her incredible and charismatic talent.
But unfortunately, I’m just not nearly as pumped for the future of the MCU as I am for the future of Pugh’s career. I acknowledge that this is all how the MCU is rubbing me the wrong way, because Black Widow is generally getting favorable reviews. I’m just realizing that this whole giant, interconnected franchise thing just probably isn’t for me anymore. I’ll show up for stuff I’m particularly interested in — a new Spider-Man movie with the previous actors returning? Sign me up! Multiple Oscar-winner Chloe Zhao tackling what looks to be a beautiful space movie with Eternals? I’m in! Ethan Hawke and Oscar Isaac going head-to-head in a miniseries? Oh yeah. But other than that, it’s time for me to acknowledge this franchise as a whole just isn’t my thing anymore. And that’s okay.