starring Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz
screenplay by Eric Pearson
directed by Cate Shortland
by Walter Chaw You know it's gritty because of the gritty cover song interrupting the bucolic prologue--Think Up Anger ft. Malia J's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" this time instead of Rose Betts's "Song to the Siren." Too on the nose, perhaps, although they're both pretty on the nose, let's be honest. Another clue is a montage under the opening credits that shows rows of little girls abducted not for sex trafficking (because Marvel is more comfortable suggesting sex trafficking than, you know, consensual adult eroticism), but for the purpose of creating a Whedon-fantasy team of Dollhouse assassins. I spent most of my childhood reading comics and have watched and reviewed almost all of the MCU films to this point. I've seen none of the TV/streaming shows and don't intend to remedy that because life is incredibly short and also full to bursting with things I desperately want to see that I still won't be able to, no matter how smart I am at managing whatever time I have left. I have no idea what's going on in Black Widow, and I think that once you get bucked off this horse, there's no getting back on. So here's Cate Shortland's Black Widow, the 24th MCU flick, if only the second centred around a female protagonist--one we know has sacrificed herself for the sake of the least interesting/worthy of her male counterparts, meaning this one takes place in either the past or an alternate timeline or something. It doesn't matter. In the comic-book world, there are new #1s every few cycles that are reboots or speculative storylines or something. It's how they get you to keep buying them. What matters is, the more you humanize this character you've already made abundantly clear you don't really care about, the worse her already-loathsome sacrifice feels.