‘Black Widow’ Trailer Emphasizes Characters Over Plot

The first look at Scarlett Johansson’s solo outing promises a spy thriller that sticks closely to the Marvel formula.

I’m not sure who is asking for a Black Widow film at this point, but hey, we’re getting one in May 2020, and the first trailer dropped today. It looks…pretty good, though I think it would have gotten me more excited if it had come out before Avengers: Endgame. The trailer makes sure to highlight the impressive cast, stylized hand-to-hand combat, and the trademark Marvel humor. All in all, it’s a trailer that at manages to pique my curiosity in a film I was otherwise indifferent toward. Watch it below:

Taking cues from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which cemented Widow as a fan favorite, Black Widow looks like it’s going to have an espionage thriller bent. It also does the typical Marvel move in hiring a fairly green independent director, this time with Cate Shortland. Shortland is known for low-budget festival films, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the footage here. The action is crisp, clean, and concise, as evidenced by a fight between Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena (Florence Pugh).

Plotwise, the trailer gives very little away, deciding to focus more on its cast and characters. David Harbour gets a few moments of levity as Red Guardian, in which he is relieved that his old costume still fits. The costume design is rather silly, looking more like a Mexican wrestling outfit than something a KGB agent would wear, but it helps the humor land. The massive star looks positively goofy. Of course, the trailer doesn’t make Red Guardian simply a joke. Later, he’s seen throwing fists with the villainous Task Master.

Likewise, we also get our first look at Florence Pugh as Yelena. From transforming herself into Paige the wrestler for Fighting with My Family, to her powerhouse turn in this year’s Midsommar, Pugh has become one of the most exciting actresses of my generation. She sells the fight choreography here; I expect her to be a highlight of the film, even with the over-the-top Russian accent. I was disappointed to not get a whole lot of Rachel Weisz’s Melena, but at the end of the day, this is a movie about Natasha.

It also looks like we’ll be getting some flashbacks in the film, with a de-aged William Hurt as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. Honestly, it took a second view of the trailer for me to realize that it was Hurt as Ross — I initially thought it was David Arquette bleached blonde. Don’t @ me, I just haven’t seen the eye doctor in six years. It’s also been reported that Robert Downey, Jr. will be back in the role of Tony Stark to some capacity. That’s a real shame, not because Downey isn’t great in the role, but because it should be retired by now.

There are some fun set pieces though. The aforementioned fight between Natasha and Yelena was cool, and there’s an action sequence in which our characters seem to be sky-diving through the wreckage of something rather large. As with all MCU films, Black Widow seems designed to be a crowd pleaser. That can also be a downfall, as the Marvel movies do tend to stick to a formula. It’s a winning formula, no doubt, but it makes each film predictable. Yet, this will be the first Marvel film directed solely by a woman, Cate Shortland, so hopefully she brings a different perspective to the table.

After Engame, I find myself having a hard time getting excited for the MCU. None of the films announced — aside from Black Panther 2 really seem like essential viewing. That may change when the promotional campaigns for these movies start. The Black Widow trailer certainly captured my curiosity, even if it didn’t secure my butt in a seat come opening weekend.

A film critic with a taste for genre fare, living in Sioux Falls, SD. If you love movies, we’ll get along just fine.

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