Like many people online lately, I am tired of seeing the mainstream press reviewing Marvel films, specifically how the Black Widow character is boiled down to either a discussion of her outfit, or describing her as “ass kicking” or a “femme fatale”. So I thought I’d try the opposite. I have done my best to avoid spoilers, I promise.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the story of Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow), a morally conflicted agent of S.H.I.E.L.D played expertly by Scarlett Johansson. This is hardly Black Widow’s first Marvel appearance. She had a central role in the Avengers as the team’s resident expert shooter, and appeared in Iron Man 2, the story of Pepper Potts’ (Gwyneth Paltrow) rise to successful CEO of a multinational corporation despite having to deal with her asshole boyfriend’s posturing.
In the Winter Soldier, Romanoff takes centre stage at last in a narrative that expands upon the Avengers. Her conflict is rooted in regretful actions from her past, which remain shrouded in mystery for the time being, and her position in the current S.H.I.E.L.D organisation, who are taking more and more extreme actions in the name of secrecy.
Elsewhere, Johansson’s male co-stars get decent screen time. Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers with a borderline virginal innocence, no doubt an attempt to appeal to mothers bringing their children and former Twilight fans looking for the newest ‘geek’ property to latch onto. Evans’ frankly ridiculous frame is stuffed into a t-shirt several sizes too small, and his Captain America uniform often recalls leather fetish outfits.
But make no mistake, this is Johansson’s film start to finish.