Black Widow is stuck in the Marvel formula just like the rest of Marvel expands beyond

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There’s no denying that the Marvel movies have a formula. As I’ve written in the past, this formula revolves around a similar color palette, parallel structures, scenarios that have similar tones and just the right amount of humor, and a host of ‘other variables. However, its great flexibility allows Marvel to maintain its own genre of superheroes while seamlessly blending it into other genres, successfully delivering a slew of films that are both the same and different. This is one of the main reasons the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) thrives where others fail. Black Widow is the latest attempt at this mix of genres, as Marvel strives to deliver a spy movie wrapped in a Marvel movie. It’s also, in that sense, one of Marvel’s biggest failures, as the film’s Marvel-ness ends up overwhelming and burning off every trace of the spy film.

Clarify, Black Widow is not a bad movie. I found it to be a decent farewell to a character who never did his due diligence throughout the MCU’s first decade. The incredible cast of the film carries much of the lift here, but it’s also full of really strong action and touching moments and is generally fun to watch. It’s not the best Marvel movie, but like the majority of movies it releases, it definitely works. However, there are issues below the surface that merit further discussion.

Marvel has done an amazing job varying the genres of their films from almost the start. Captain America: The First Avenger does a solid job weaving a superhero origin into the war film genre. The ant Man is a fantastic low-key heist movie with injected Marvel action that helped overhaul the MCU after Avengers: Age of Ultron. Iron man 3 uses the buddy cop genre to unbox the character himself, overturn our expectations of a villain, and indeed take Marvel’s first good shot to shake up his formula a bit. There are plenty of other examples of how the MCU is mixing genres to come up with movies that work together but don’t always feel the same.

Black Widow attempts to mix the spectacle and story of a Marvel movie with an action spy movie like James Bond and Jason Bourne. As if to push this idea at home, Natasha even watches the James Bond movie Moonraker at one point, while listening to the funniest movie in this franchise in which James Bond travels to space to destroy a eugenics-loving madman – which is essentially the plot of Black Widow. Black Widow does not exactly hide his espionage influences. Marvel has also expressed its intention to Black Widow to be a Marvel film more “grounded” as a spy film.


Black Widow spy film fails because of its neutral, bland Marvel formula that dominates James Bond Moonraker influence

The problem is how quickly the spy stuff comes out the window. The start of the movie actually plays out like something you’d see in Bourne or some of the less bombastic Bonds, with Natasha stripped of most of her superhero stuff and doing some real spy research. There’s also a bunch of spy movie clips, like an intense close quarters fight between Natasha and her fake sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) in the same run down European apartment that every spy movie has a close quarters fight since Jason Bourne. did it for the first time there. The film features an over the top Russian villain who intends to take over the world and even has a Q-type sidekick helping Black Widow, but all seems to be lost as the superhero aspects take over.

The inclusion of Taskmaster means there is less espionage and more punches, and our big bad, a totally repulsive Ray Winstone, never has time onscreen to become a convincing character or character. bombastic Blofeld type. The film’s ending features a massive (and awe-inspiring) action piece that brings the old family together to defeat evil. They are not failures overall, but they mean that Black Widow just isn’t a spy movie like it claims it is.

The failure to merge the two genres means the film has a bit more time to do other things. Natasha being actually fleshed out as a character is a major boon to the MCU, as he’s spent decades ignoring her and only offering little scenes between her and Hawkeye reminiscent of the bad old days. It’s a bit of a conundrum to complain about their inability to make a spy movie when part of the end result is that we get a really good Black Widow movie.


The scenes between Natasha and her surrogate family are entertaining and touching, but seem out of place in a genre known for its cooler calculations and complex storylines. At the end of the movie, everything is so over the top that it’s hard to think of it as a spy movie; Marvel-ness has taken full advantage. And while the use of Moonraker may be a way for the movie to say that spy movies can look like comics too, this movie still delivers the kind of over-the-top spy story that Black Widow can’t quite grasp. Black Widow lacks the bombastic and ironic playfulness of Bond’s Roger Moore era as it sticks to the proven Marvel style.

Part of this problem is actually not Black Widowthe fault at all. As the first Phase 4 movie, it was slated for release in early 2020. Phase 4 includes not only movies but Marvel Studios‘ entry into television as well, and as we now know, that resulted in a big redesign of the formula. Even the Phase 4 films seem to be venturing into new areas with Oscar winner Chloe Zhao filming largely on location for Eternals and Sam Raimi’s signature style being brought to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

If he was released last year, Black Widow could have been an effective bridge movie with its incredible Marvel-ness, bringing people in before delving deep into the weirdness of WandaVision, the social commentary of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and the Doctor Who time travel Loki. However, we had all these more experimental shows first, so Black WidowEven more shocking than it should be is the extreme return to form that exceeds his gender aspirations. And to add insult to injury, MCU events now sort of play out out of order.


MCU Natasha Romanov

However, if Black WidowThe lack of a successful mix of genres always leads to a more in-depth character, awesome action, and a decent movie, so what’s the deal? Well, it’s just that Marvel’s success comes from being able to do the same thing but differently. This ability relies on the mix of genres in the MCU formula, otherwise “superhero fatigue” will really start to kick in. Granted, superhero fatigue is a complaint that a lot of people claim to exist, but has actually had no impact on the MCU. significantly, given Black Widowthe stellar box office of, the rampant success of the last two Avengers movies and the huge impact of the first three Marvel Disney + shows. However, just because it hasn’t been a problem yet doesn’t mean it will be true forever. If Marvel were ever to “fall,” it would likely be because of its inability to engage more fully with other genres, and Black Widow appears to be the first real crack in this armor.

The point is, Marvel really does seem to be reinventing its formula in upcoming movies and shows, but Black Widow closely adheres to the old formula. The movie could have been an incredibly intriguing spy flick, with a vibrant family storyline grounded in an interesting plot and, yes, some superhero antics. Marvel just couldn’t go out of its own way, delivering an MCU movie that either doesn’t agree with the new direction Marvel is obviously taking or embracing the fantastic genre cinema it has achieved in the past. Black Widow is therefore stuck in a strange middle ground. Ultimately, Black Widow It might be a good Marvel movie, but it would also have been better to have had a good spy movie.


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