Black Widow accomplishes her entertainment mission [critique]

While the long-awaited Scarlett Johansson solo film is far from perfect, it’s good to see Marvel on the big screen again.

From the top Avengers in 2012, the pleasure taken in front of the “little ones” Marvel (basically, the two Ant-Man) allowed a theory: what if it was in the minor MCU movies, the in-between, that Formula Marvel worked best? With the modesty that would correspond to what they absolutely should be: like 90s comic book movies made with profession, with no other pretension than to entertain us during the long summers of the past. OK, the theory is shaky: hard to qualify a film as Black widow of small when it cost at least $ 200 million, but the spin-off devoted to the super-spy played by Scarlett Johansson is clearly a “small” film when compared to Endgame, Black panther or the latest Spider-Man, whether in terms of scale or stakes. Without spoiler, here we are between Civil war and Infinity war, when Natasha Romanoff was hiding from the Terran authorities because of non-respect of the Sokovia agreements (the fans will explain you better than us, if you are dumped). The promise of the film is thus to explore the past of the Black Widow, to endow her with a family and a real depth. On the family side, it’s successful, since the film is not seen so much as a moving farewell to Black Widow but as the assurance of continuity via blood ties: the formidable Florence Pugh, who plays Natasha’s sister , is well and truly cut for the revival, and we expect that fans will also fall crazy about Red Guardian, the Russian Captain America played by a handsome and funny David Harbor.

But, if we dig deeper, is something happening on the cinema side? Black widow is the first Marvel to return to the big screen after a pandemic where the Disney + series, intelligently marketed and broadcast, have succeeded in maintaining public interest and squatting the editorial lines of sites. And, in fact, the pleasure of seeing an MCU film on the big screen is important, increased by the feeling of lack induced by the Covid. Again this story of formula, recipe; you always get what you pay for. The opening of Black widow even leaves great hopes: it is 1995, and a family of Russian spies (guess who) inflicted in Ohio is burned and must escape in the middle of the night. The rhythm gradually rises, the camera glides at night along sacred American places – a fast food restaurant, a metal bridge, a stadium illuminated by “Friday night lights” – all to the sound ofAmerican pie of Don McLean, before leading us into a chase between a passenger plane and a horde of cops … But after that, Black widow will soon fall back under the effects of Formula Marvel, in its last routine act, filled with cyber supersoldiers à la GI Joe and digital battles on a green background no doubt precomputed by concept designers even before director Cate Shortland got hold of the project. The character of the film, unfortunately, is gradually diluted as Formula takes control. Is it a coincidence that we have the impression of hearing at the bend of the soundtrack – which remains formidable – by Lorne Balfe an extract from Moonraker ?

Well, we reassure you, we are far from the space nanar of 007, but after ten years spent in the shadow of the male figures of the MCU, Black Widow deserved better than this somewhat secondary hunt for a great villain just as secondary. The fact that the movie’s McGuffin is a chemical formula capable of altering free will is just a coincidence – not all that fun, in fact – at a time when MCU blockbusters are able to drain the general public. contemporary. So Black widow, in short, how is it? Yes, it’s not bad, it’s nice, it even feels a little good, but it’s not as big as it would like to be. Not an end to Scarlett’s passage in the MCU (we are already planning to see her again, her and Florence Pugh), but a parenthesis, a special episode that can be seen with pleasure but will not leave deep memories. As Kurt Cobain sings in the final passage of Smells Like Teen Spirit, curiously zapped from the reznoresque cover of the opening credits of Black widow : well, whatever, nevermind.

Black Widow, July 7 at the cinema.

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