The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has always had a soft spot for its men. There is the mighty God of Thunder, Thor; the evil charmer, Loki; the giant genius, Hulk; the honest-as-they-come Captain America; and of course, the recently departed and loved King of Wakanda, Black Panther; and the wisecracking Tony Stark who wins the day in his indomitable Iron Man suit; and so many more.
Of course, the MCU does have its Captain Marvel, the Wasp, Pepper Pots from time to time, but how many times do you remember a woman superhero stealing the show? Disney+Hotstar’s Black Widow tries its best to do justice to all the women left in the wings. Ironically, the show-stealer here is not Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) as Black Widow, rather her kid sister Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) who grabs the thunder and revels in it.
Directed by Cate Shortland, Black Widow kind of unravels the ever-present Avengers mystery of ‘what happened in Budapest’ and the torture and horror that is the ‘Red Room’. The story also weaves in a very James Bondish tale of Russian spies living in Ohio, US. There is the perfect American family of four—father, mother and two daughters—till they have to make a run for it with wannabe chemical warfare state secrets in their deep pockets. Separated from each other, it all appears very tragic, but Shortland has other plans. With plenty of action, this extremely fast-paced thriller has you completely hooked. Very rarely, maybe barring the Iron Man series, the MCU has its guns blazing from the word go!
Romanoff and Belova are Killer Machines in their own right. Thrown back together to finally avenge the fate of others like them—innocent girls who are actually collateral damage—the so-called siblings bicker and bond, break a prison to rescue their ‘father’ (a loud-mouthed, boorish David Harbour), and finally end up at the ‘robot-pig farm’ of their ‘mother’ (an understated Rachel Weisz). While each of these four characters shines in their own right, it is perhaps Pugh as Yelena who looks like she may have a long run in the MCU scheme of things.
True to its theme, the film ends with Yelena set to hunt down the man who killed her sister—remember how Romanoff dies in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame after sacrificing her life to secure the Soul Stone to defeat Thanos? Will Yelena manage to kill off the man who was actually her sister’s closest ally? Or, will she join the Avengers as the new Black Widow? Only the multiverse will tell.
Director: Cate Shortland