'We could not have made this movie 10 years ago': How 'Black Widow' got real about trauma and abuse

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USA TODAY 13 July, 2021 - 08:57am 9 views

Who plays Yelena in Black Widow?

Aside from giving Natasha a long-awaited solo film and finally putting the character front and center, Black Widow has another function. It's also a backdoor introduction to Yelena Belova, played by Florence Pugh. SYFY WIREWho is Yelena Belova, and why is she the next Black Widow?

Is taskmaster in Black Widow?

Every good Marvel superhero needs a supervillain, so as Black Widow stepped up for her solo movie debut, it's only natural that she got a signature bad guy to go along with her. In Black Widow, that's Taskmaster, the mysterious killer with the ability to learn any fighting technique simply by watching it. PolygonWho is the Taskmaster in Black Widow?

How much did it cost to make black widow?

Cate Shortland directed the movie, which cost at least $200 million to produce. Disney also said that “Black Widow” grossed $78 million overseas, bringing its world-wide box office total to $158 million. The Wall Street JournalDisney’s ‘Black Widow’ Tops Box Office, Lifting Prospect of Moviegoing Rebound

Marvel's Black Widow: Let's Talk About Taskmaster

Gizmodo 13 July, 2021 - 04:32pm

Though there have been some missteps along the way, the Marvel Cinematic Universe usually gives its villains just as much gravitas as its heroes: Loki, Thanos, Killmonger, Red Skull, etc. But Taskmaster—and to an extent, Dreykov himself—absolutely falls short of that, and it holds Black Widow back from being the top-tier Marvel movie it certainly strived to be. What did you think of Taskmaster in Black Widow?

If exploring Taskmaster as a character took even a second away from Yelena or Red Guardian’s screentime it would have been a crime.

So leave Taskmaster unexplored for now and, heck, forever. She was a formidable foe, she was a cool reveal (did not see it coming), there was that awesome scene where Nat struggled with the need to let her out of the cell, and then she got a perfectly solid ending. That’s a lot more than most henchmen bad guys get in a movie. 

All the Ways Black Widow's Red Guardian Could Have Met Captain America

Yahoo Lifestyle 13 July, 2021 - 04:32pm

Black Widow may take place in the past, at least as far as the Marvel timeline is considered, but that doesn't mean it won't impact the future of the MCU. The movie focuses on Natasha's life in between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, and explores her fraught past.

It has garnered positive reviews, but many bemoaned the time it took to get Natasha into the spotlight, and that while Black Widow makes some effort, it falls short in really digging into how she became who she is. Similarly, it over-hyped some reveals, leaving viewers disappointed.

But one thing seemingly everyone could agree on was that David Harbour's Alexei, aka Red Guardian, was a hammy-but-loveable character, and we hope to see more of him in the MCU. Beyond this, though, fans were left scratching their heads at a little bit of dialogue.

We catch up with Red Guardian in prison, where he's waxing poetic about a battle against Captain America in which he came out victorious. Later, however, when he reunites with Natasha and asks if Cap ever spoke of him, she blanks him, leaving him deflated.

This led to fans wondering how, and indeed if, the two 'superheroes' ever crossed paths. So we scoured the internet for the best, and most believable, theories to answer that question.

The prevailing, and most likely to be true, theory is that Red Guardian is simply telling tall tales. This is the theory David Harbour himself touted.

In a surprisingly earnest moment from the otherwise comic-relief character, Alexei reveals that after he returned from Ohio with the SHIELD technology, he thought he would be the poster superhero for the USSR.

Instead, he was jailed and never got to live to the heights of glory he was promised. So to pass the time in prison, he tells the story of his imagined heyday. Or, perhaps, he did at some point fight Captain America but either only very briefly, or – more likely – lost to him.

Another theory connects Black Widow to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, predicated on a reveal in the TV series that Captain America isn't the only person to be superhero-ing it up thanks to the super serum.

Isaiah Bradley, introduced to the MCU via The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a Korean War veteran who was unwillingly subjected to human testing of the Super Soldier Serum. He survived the experiment, and after failing to kill the Winter Soldier in South Korea, the government eventually feared the ramifications of an African-American super-soldier during the civil rights movement.

Isaiah spent three decades in prison experimented on by the US government and HYDRA, but was released in the 1980s. This lines up with the timing that Red Guardian claims he battled Captain America, meaning it could very well have been Isaiah, not Steve Rogers, he fought.

We've had it confirmed that Steve Rogers' journeys in the past caused a branch in the timeline, so this theory is really out there, but some have speculated that the version of Captain America that Red Guardian fought was the 'old' Cap who had gone back in time, rather than the 'present day' Captain America: Civil War Steve Rogers whom Natasha would know.

This would explain why, if Red Guardian was telling the truth, Natasha wouldn't confirm that Steve had ever mentioned Alexei. After all, it would've been a different Steve.

Another unlikely but interesting theory is that Alexei, a staunch communist, was simply doing his bit to further pro-USSR propaganda by claiming, falsely, that he beat Captain America.

Insider breaks down the questions and some of the possible answers you'll have after watching the latest Marvel movie.

This tease is likely to pay off fairly soon.

After watching Marvel's "Black Widow," here are the small callbacks, nods, and Easter eggs we noticed in the over two-hour Scarlett Johansson movie.

In case you needed a refresher...

But where does 'Black Widow' fit in?

These are your options. Choose wisely.

In "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," Johansson said that her character was initially written to arrive in tennis whites and a blond wig.

Harbour told Insider how the classic Don McLean song became the connection between Red Guardian and Yelena Belova.

The long-awaited Natasha Romanoff stand-alone film is finally in theaters.

Natasha finally tells Marvel fans "what happened in Budapest." The answer deals with how Nat became an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The 'Stranger Things' star bucks the Marvel trend in 'Black Widow,' hiding those traditional six-pack abs under some substantial paunch.

Here's everything we know right now about Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld's Disney+ series.

It should've been an emotional moment, and yet...

“She looks more like Johansson than Scarlett.”

That post-credits scene is fueling some theories….

Personal trainer Eric Johnson shares how he helped Scarlett Johansson get into shape to play Black Widow.

Harbour chats with Insider about joining the MCU and how his suggestion of using a classic rock song led to one of the movie's most touching moments.

"His father would be very proud," Deborah Lin said of Gandolfini's son Michael playing a young Tony Soprano in "The Many Saints of Newark."

"Black Widow" has an extra scene after the initial credits, teasing the return of a mysterious character and a hint at what's to come in "Hawkeye."

'Black Widow' Spoiler Review: The Marvel Movie Most Hampered by Being in the MCU

/FILM 13 July, 2021 - 04:20pm

Posted on Monday, July 12th, 2021 by Jeremy Mathai

Let’s make this clear right from the start: Black Widow certainly owes its apparent success (not to mention its very existence) to director Cate Shortland, writers Eric Pearson, Jac Schaeffer, and Ned Benson, and their armies of cast and crew. But most importantly, and this might be terribly controversial to say, it comes down to the Marvel Cinematic Universe at large.

Thanks to the careful bricklaying spearheaded by Kevin Feige over the last decade-plus, this patient approach has built the MCU into the powerhouse that it’s become. As proven by a similarly family-oriented saga that has only gained more and more steam over time, the key to its popularity is actually pretty simple. The MCU’s secret sauce lies in the fact that audiences — stick with me here — enjoy spending time with characters they like. Natasha Romanoff, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson since 2010 and appearing in eight different MCU films until the character’s death in Avengers: Endgame, certainly fits the bill.

But while watching Black Widow, I was struck by a startling realization pretty early on: for all its MCU connections and references and callbacks (and there are a lot of them)… the only scenes I was ever really connecting with were the ones that forcefully relegated the MCU in the background and instead focused on the story at hand. The uneven movie we’re left with serves as the metatextual extension of Natasha’s own emotional tug-of-war between the Avengers and her Russian “family.” Like the conflicted super-spy caught between disparate allegiances, Black Widow is a superhero movie at war with itself.

Marvel movies have referenced Pinocchio in the past, with Avengers: Age of Ultron focusing on the puppet’s “strings” more so than his earnest desire to finally become “a real boy.” Black Widow, however, inadvertently brings to mind that latter quote through its well-meaning intentions to act more like a “real movie” rather than just another piece of forgettable superhero fare.

If you remember (and I’m sure you do), filmmaking legend Martin Scorsese once launched a thousand furious social media discourses in October of 2019 when he asserted that Marvel movies were akin to “theme parks,” subsequently opening the door for debates between that and what exactly constitutes “cinema.” Scorsese’s own eloquent and richly insightful words speak for themselves so let’s not rehash them here, but here’s why I’m bringing it up: filming for Black Widow commenced from May to October that same year and, while it was certainly too late to structure some sort of clapback within the script itself (although standard reshoots took place throughout 2020), it’s hard not to see that narrative hanging over the heads of everyone involved with the production and editing of Black Widow.

Right from the start, Black Widow seems to have a chip on its shoulder and demands itself to be taken seriously as a proper film in its own right. And you know what? It absolutely earns that respect in the early going.

The surprisingly gripping cold open establishes a young Natasha and Yelena in their comfortable home in 1995 Ohio and their relationships with parental figures Melina (Rachel Weisz) and Alexei (David Harbour). Although the situation soon explodes into some tense action as the undercover family inevitably goes on the run, we experience several minutes before the film name-drops any pre-existing Marvel characters or even shows off any feats of superhuman strength. It’s simply an effective, self-contained prologue that establishes the core themes and ideas the film would (ostensibly) be dealing with as the young sisters see their idyllic family life shatter before their eyes. There’s even a brutally mood-setting opening title sequence, a rarity in the MCU and yet another early indication that Black Widow is aiming to be different from the pack.

I’ve written previously about my craving for Marvel movies to reincorporate something as simple as conversations in their movies again, crucial breathing room that used to be the norm in earlier phases but dropped off as precious screen time apparently needed to be spent elsewhere on cosmic threats, zero-calorie banter, and complex action sequences. So it’s a particularly cruel irony that an MCU film finally takes my complaints to heart… only to do little to nothing with all that dialogue.

Again, there’s an impressive amount of scenes featuring characters have one-on-one conversations with each other, but so few of these moments ever actually bring resolution (or even suggest a way forward, at the very least) or unearth any new layers we didn’t already know. Florence Pugh, in particular, is saddled with simply stating Yelena’s motivations and thoughts out loud as bluntly and robotically as she can (which is much less a performance issue and more a writing/directing one, as Pugh shines in every other scene), turning any potential subtext into outright text. Think of the centerpiece of the film set at Melina’s distant homestead, where the family reunion quickly devolves into heightened family drama. There was potential here for Yelena and father figure Alexei to hash out their differences and reach a new understanding of each other, but much of it is played for laughs at Harbour’s expense and all their conflict is resolved far too quickly in a rendition of Don McLean’s “American Pie.” Similarly, a third act moment where Alexei showcases a rare moment of vulnerability to Natasha is cut off at its knees, all to make room for a face mask reveal recycled from The Winter Soldier that’s hardly worth the bait-and-switch.

And yet, none of this would necessarily be so bad if only Black Widow bothered to communicate character through action or any other means. Instead, we’re left with rote exercises in dialogue from a movie that wants to seem more low-key, restrained, and thoughtful than it actually is.

Natasha ultimately realizes that she can accept both her Black Widow family as well as her Avengers team and, in effect, have it both ways. For better or worse, the same can’t exactly hold true for the movie itself.

Let me ask you, dear reader: When you first heard Loki menacingly allude to “the hospital fire” or “Dreykov’s daughter” to Natasha way back in 2012’s The Avengers, were you consumed with the need to witness these events depicted in live action someday with excruciating detail? Or did you accept throwaway lines like those or Clint and Natasha’s “Just like Budapest all over again” reference as trivial details meant to flesh out their past history and add layers of world-building that extends beyond what we ever see on-screen? Well, Black Widow certainly assumes the former.

In its pursuit to service the shared universe aspects of it all, Black Widow does itself no favors by falling victim to as bad a case of “prequelitis” as I’ve seen since Solo: A Star War Story decided to run through a checklist of Han Solo origin stories for no real reason at all.

Everything from General Dreykov himself (who as played by Ray Winstone is, dramatic drum roll please, not actually dead! Except I don’t think I was ever meant to think otherwise in previous movies, though?) to the cloying return of that “Red on my ledger” remark from The Avengers (which retroactively turns Natasha’s arc in that film into little more than a weirdly specific family mantra here?) to that random green vest Natasha wore in Avengers: Infinity War is up for grabs here, and almost none of it lends any actual meaning here or to previous films.

It’s a shame, really, because this over-reliance on filling in backstory and providing answers to questions that few ever asked in the first place can’t help but feel a little suspect. It belies a sense of insecurity at best or a creative misfire at worst, one that speaks to Marvel’s difficulty in putting out a long overdue solo film for their first major female character in live action. Much like Han Solo, the character of Black Widow should already be deep enough at this point to support all sorts of truly original stories. Instead, what starts as a relatively grounded tale centered on a sisterly bond turns into yet another nostalgia trip that only hardcore fans would ever be fully invested in.

As tends to be the case with prequels, the nagging weight of past history extends beyond the screen as well, given the (arguably ill-advised) decision to kill Natasha off in Endgame. Right when Black Widow positions Natasha’s fate entirely up in the air (literally!) and the world hangs in the balance, you may have found yourself remembering that Natasha lives to see another day and the threat of Dreykov’s Black Widow scheme utterly pales in comparison to the oncoming Mad Titan.

With that in mind, wouldn’t a more lower-stakes journey have been the way to go here? Maybe Black Widow’s instincts were right all along in eschewing the overarching Marvel brand in favor of a more boots-on-the-ground perspective…but too bad it never commits to that or fully sheds the heavy burden of shared universe connections.

This is a film that’s perpetually torn in two. Even though Natasha finally achieves a sense of zen about her place in the world, Black Widow is never extended the same courtesy. Loyal fans may consider this to be a perfectly serviceable, sometimes inspired superhero movie. But when it comes to giving Natasha Romanoff her due and sending her off into the sunset, her journey crushes under the weight of the real star of the show: the MCU.

Known on Twitter as "That guy with the Beaker avatar" and among family and friends on Long Island as "That guy obsessed with Jurassic Park", Muppets and movies have been an intrinsic part of Jeremy's persona since the very beginning. He's very much the same in-person as he is online, so beware his tendency to indulge himself in Seinfeld references, Indian cuisine, and his love for Swiss Army Man.

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