Msometimes you know everything beforehand. If you buy a ticket for the latest James Bond movie, you’re hoping for two hours of crazy car chases, well-choreographed fight scenes, exotic locations and beautiful women in tight clothes. Movies that deal with superheroes, on the other hand, are often surprises, because Marvel likes to have the cinematic adaptations of its comics told in different film genres. So “Spiderman” became a coming-of-age story, “Ant-Man” is about a thief coup, and the life of the former Russian contract killer Black Widow now surprises with crazy car chases, well-choreographed fight scenes, exotic locations and beautiful women in tight clothes – a real spy thriller.
Natasha Romanoff, who has been played by Scarlett Johansson since “Iron Man 2” (2010), was trained as a child in a Russian elite training program as a spy with a license to kill, but later sided with the superheroes. In half a dozen films, Romanoff fought alongside Thor, Captain America and Iron Man against villains and only hinted at what she had experienced – for example, when she shouted to the archer Hawkeye in a wild shootout: “Just like Budapest, all over again” (after almost ten years, this subplot of the Marvel cinematic universe is finally explained).
Romanoff’s story begins in 1995 in Ohio, where the girl lives with her family. But neither her parents nor her little sister Yelena are related to her – the four are agents sent by the Russians whose façade is falling. The escape sequence sets the tone for the rest of the film: The “parents” grab Romanoff and her “sister” in the car, race to a small plane. The girls jump on board, the mother (Rachel Weisz, who as scientist Melina Vostokoff proves that women in Hollywood today can still be combat-ready superheroines even at the age of 51) takes the wheel, the father (David Harbour as Red Guardian, for whom the German dubbing fortunately paints the bad Russian accent) clears the way for them. Cars fly through the air. The mother is shot. Natasha climbs to the wheel. The father tries to jump on the plane, bullets fly, the runway is too short. When the opening credits finally roll, you realize that maybe you should breathe again. As in any good spy movie, it continues at this pace. The action takes place sometimes in the dusty souks of Morocco, sometimes on the rocky fjords of Norway, sometimes above the rooftops of Budapest.
Elegant bow to the action genre
After more than a year in which the pandemic made traveling almost impossible even within Europe, these locations seem as exotic and extraordinary as Bond’s old adventures on the beaches of Nassau or the casinos of Macao. In general, “Black Widow” is an elegant bow to its own genre. On the run through Norway, Romanoff watches “Moonraker” in the evening, even likes this film so much that she speaks the sentences with which villain Drax threatens James Bond. The sayings with which Romanoff and Yelena (Florence Pugh) persist at the reunion in Budapest (“Can you land without making such a pose with your hair?”) are again pure homage to the cop buddy films of the late eighties – Mel Gibson and Danny Glover (“Lethal Weapon”, 1987) or Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson (Die Slow: Now Even More, 1995) also threw similar affectionate things at their heads. And the jokes hold the irony level with which Roger Moore’s Bond did not take himself seriously.