Let's talk about the new Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, Black Widow, which reveals Natasha Romanoff's past!

We have now arrived at the Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, after the curtain that was Endgame (and its top grossing). We have already seen the first steps in Phase 4 thanks to the new ones MCU television series: WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (here's the episode by episode review: 1 × 01, 1 × 02, 1 × 03, 1 × 04, 1 × 05 e 1 × 06) is Loki (which we have discussed the metanarrative and potential queerbaiting).
With Black Widow, we have finally moved on to the cinematic part of Phase 4.

Directed by Cate shortland, the release of Black Widow has been postponed several times due to the pandemic, but was finally released in Italian cinemas on 7 July, and on Disney + on July 9th.
We find Scarlett Johansson as ex-spy and Avenger Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, along with a cast of new characters. So we know Natasha's "family", made up entirely of Soviet undercover agents in the US. We will therefore have Rachel Weisz (The Mummy) in the role of the "mother" Melina, David Harbour (Stranger Things) as the "father" Alexei, aka Red Guardian, e Florence Pugh (Midsummer) in the role of "sister" Yelena.
In this article, let's see a bit what were the impressions of the writer after watching the film.

Warning: this article contains spoilers about Black Widow
Natasha Romanoff in Black Widow
Natasha Romanoff in Black Widow

The plot of the film in brief

This time we will really try to keep it short. More me about.
The film opens with a glimpse into Natasha's childhood, who spent a few years in Ohio with a group of Russian undercover agents. Playing the roles of the perfect little family, Melina and Alexei raised Natasha and Yelena while secretly retrieving military secrets.
After a daring escape to Cuba, the family separates. Each member is nothing more than a tool for the head of the operation, Dreykov, and therefore everyone will have to be relocated to a new role. Natasha and Yelena are then taken to the Red Room, to be trained as Black Widows.

The "cure" for the Black Widows and the reunion of Natasha's "family"

Back in the present, we follow a runaway Natasha after the events of Civil War. After being nearly killed by a creepy android, Taskmaster, Natasha realizes she has received from Yelena, which he had not seen for years, a package with mysterious red vials. Yelena will reveal to her "sister" that it is the antidote to a special neurochemical mental manipulation to which the latest generation Black Widows are subject. Yelena herself freed herself only thanks to it.
Natasha discovers that Dreykov, whom she believed she killed with his little daughter Antonia, is still alive and has reorganized the Red Room and revolutionized the Black Widows.

Determined to stop their former tormentor, the two sisters look for someone who knows where Dreykov is.
Thus they release their "father" from prison, Alexei, who at the time was a super soldier similar to Captain America, called the Red Guardian. However, Alexei, as happy as he is to see his "daughters" (despite his narcissistic streak), does not know where Dreykov is.
Thus, the three find the last member of their fake family, Melina, who at the time was head of the mission. Melina reveals that she has created the substance that allows Dreykov to manipulate the Black Widows and, to redeem herself, she agrees to help the "daughters" kill Dreykov.

All the knots come to a head

By getting caught, Natasha and Melina manage to impersonate each other and to sabotage the Red Room, which is a large flying structure. Natasha is thus able to obtain from Dreykov valuable information on the location of all the Widows on the globe, while Yelena is successful in administering the antidote to the other Widows in the Red Room.
Also, Natasha discovers that Taskmaster is none other than that Antonia, Dreykov's daughter, who survived the attempted murder of Natasha, but reduced to a killing machine by her father. Tormented by guilt, Natasha risks everything and everything, thus managing to give the antidote to Antonia as well, freeing even the latest victim of Dreykov's narcissism and cravings for power.

Eventually, Yelena, Natasha, Melina and Alexei break up, grateful to know that for all of them the fake family they created is, in fact, much truer than Dreykov had intended.
The goal now is free all the other Black Widows scattered around the world.

The film closes with a scene after the credits, set afterwards Endgame. Here we see Yelena in front of Natasha's grave, which she meets Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, already seen in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Valentina reveals to Yelena who killed Natasha: Clint barton, aka Hawkeye. For Yelena, therefore, it is time to have her revenge.

Yelena Belova in Black Widow
Yelena Belova in Black Widow

Some thoughts on Black Widow

Taking into account that you don't watch MCU movies looking for a sophisticated analysis of reality, Black Widow It is probably one of the most successful films of the MCU.
Although not a masterpiece, this film largely succeeds in its intent (entertaining) and deepening the character of Natasha.

People as objects and the figure of Dreykov

Reduced to the bone, Black Widow is a film aboutself-affirmation, on the agency and on the defeat of those who treat others as objects.
The antagonist, Dreykov, is not a person we know and empathize with in some way. In short, it is not a Thanos, a killmonger or a Zemo, but not even a poor enslaved victim like the Winter Soldier.
Dreykov is probably the least empathic antagonist throughout the MCU, because he's a father-master-employer-dictator. He is the kind of person who does not work with others, but "rents" the bodies of others for a job, pretending to dispose of them as he pleases. And somehow, it is "justified" by a positive purpose (according to him) and by having "saved" (always according to him) the people he uses from a worse life.

If we were to think that Marvel is making a critique of capitalism (and we're sure it isn't), Dreykov would be the personification of capitalism.
If we were to think that Marvel is making a critique of the commodification of women, Dreykov would be the metaphor of a human trafficker and a pimp.
But this is Marvel. And these further senses and these metaphors on ethics and the value of human life we ​​leave them to other films. Type a M, which deals with the same issues, but in a much more explicit way. (But on the blast front we are more or less there.)

Women as human beings

A positive note of the film is that its (many) female characters they are generally well done.
Despite several close-ups on Natasha's rear end (she rivals the Justice League by Wheedon!), our protagonist has the opportunity to behave like a real person. Unlike the other MCU movies, Natasha here is not mummified in the incarnation of the fatal woman.
Plus, thanks to the presence of Yelena, Melina, Antonia and a dozen other Black Widows, she isn't even the only representative of the female gender on screen. We therefore have a way to approach women with relatively different personalities, and even of different ages.

Melina brings to the screen a middle-aged actress, of which there are honestly too few, despite the abundance of actors in their fifties. Rachel Weisz is put into a far too expressionless role, but she's still gorgeous to watch.
Yelena is instead rendered very well by Florence Pugh and has the task of deconstruct and rebuild the figure of Black Widow.
First of all, in fact, it makes irony about the "superhero pose" that Natasha takes when she lands. For those who do not know, in fact, it is a pose that would be absolutely unrealistic and ineffective in real life.
Secondly, Yelena also has the opportunity to deepen and re-tell the experience ofexcision of the uterus of the Black Widows, badly managed at the time by Joss Whedon in Avengers: Age of Ultron. In Black Widow, this operation is narrated as a violence on the body of the protagonists, not as a "I don't have a womb, so I'm a monster too!"

Finally, if it were up to me I would like to have at least seven other films about the character of Antonia / Taskmaster. A disfigured cyborg woman who has just broken free from her father-master's mind control? It has enough potential to deserve more than an appearance.

Alexei Shostakov and Melina Vostokoff in Black Widow
Alexei Shostakov and Melina Vostokoff in Black Widow

Final thoughts on Black Widow

In short, as you can see, I could have more things to say about this film than what Black Widow he actually told.
It's a good superhero movie. Better than others and certainly enjoyed seeing in the cinema. Has a more mature tone compared to other works of the MCU and knows how to dose its dramatic side and its necessary comic drifts.

It is also a film that would have the potential to deal with very serious issues, such as the commodification of the female body and the capitalist / dictatorial tendency to treat people as objects. But we are at Marvel and these topics are therefore only touched upon. Black Widows are not victims of the prostitution market, just as Dreykov is not a bad capitalist. Widows are the killers of a villain who acts with unclear motives. In the end, the underlying metaphor is covered in so many layers that it is no longer clear.
However, there remains the criticism of treating others as objects. It's very basic, but it does its job in the end. Which is already something.