Marvel returns in a thrilling 007-style adventure


Duration: 133 minutes. Rated PG-13 (intense sequences of violence / action, language, and thematic material.) In theaters and on Disney + (for an additional fee) July 9.

When audiences last saw a new Marvel movie – “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” in June 2019 – the movie began with half the planet returning to Earth after a five-year disappearance ( thank you, Thanos) which shocked the earthlings dubbed “the coup.”

So how fitting that the MCU is rebooting with its latest, “Black Widow,” following our own real-life blip.

Better yet, it’s a good time.

It helps that Black Widow AKA Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is the most handsome Marvel frontman in ages. She is an Avenger, but not of the alien (Thor, Captain Marvel) or genetically modified (Spider-Man, Hulk) variety; Natasha is an all-human Russian agent groomed by the KGB to be a deadly assassin. So while there is a myriad of special effects in director Cate Shortland’s film, the fight scenes are badass in spite of themselves.

Black Widow’s first standalone film acts as both an origin story – we see it placed in the hands of a fake family of Russian spies on American soil, as they are forced to flee to Cuba – and a 2016 continuation of “Captain America: Civil War”, when the Avengers temporarily disbanded and sent Romanoff on the run from the US government.

For the precious few of you who spent some time, I don’t know, reading books and bonding with family over the past year instead of watching the 23 previous Marvel movies, don’t worry. There are two types of MCU movies: one in which knowing the events leading up to it is crucial so you don’t come out of the theater screaming, “What is a Tesseract? And one in which the old details are little more than extra credit. “Black Widow” is the latter.

The vibe in the movie doesn’t look like your average MCU entry at all, really. What it reminded me of were the many James Bond movies where 007 goes thug and frolic in cities around the world for revenge. of the day. Johansson, who actually watches “Moonraker” in one scene, has the same Bond confidence and swagger – if not his retro libido – that these funny Marvel actors so often miss who look like they’ve gotten lost in the air. the path of a set of Judd Apatow.

Scarlett Johansson plays the Avenger and super spy Black Widow in the latest Marvel movie.
Scarlett Johansson plays the Avenger and super spy Black Widow in the latest Marvel movie.

Her journey to defeat the evil Russian boss who cared for her, Dreykov (Ray Winstone), and her top-secret spy agency the Red Room reconnects her with her stunt family. Fake mom Melina (Rachel Weisz) is a scientist who works for Dreykov; fake daddy Alexei (David Harbor), a has-been super soldier once known as the Red Guardian; and fake sister Yelena (Florence Pugh, channeling Villianelle in “Killing Eve”), a Red Room agent. They are all linked to Natasha’s ploy.

Harbor is the only weak link of the four. The actor is there to bring a lot of comedic relief, but the film doesn’t need it since every character already has a dark Russian sense of humor. His silly jokes stand out like a bather in Siberia.

“You both killed so many people!” he said, hugging his fake girls in tears. “I’m so proud of you!” It used to be that you crumpled up this page and threw it in the trash.

It doesn’t matter, because we have Scarlett. Johansson is one of the best-performed actors in the entire MCU. Even Oscar-winning artists don’t always work (cough, Brie Larson, cough). How unfortunate that we have two “Ant-Man” movies and soon have a pair of “Doctor Strange” movies, but in all likelihood just one “Black Widow” – a character much deeper, more fascinating and more exciting than either of those two duds, sorry, guys.

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