Heroes & Villains: E.A. Henson on ‘Black Widow’

Last week I worked an astoundingly back-breaking ONE day at my day job. Since last Monday was the observed day for America Freedom Day I worked Tuesday and then had some time off that I had scheduled for the rest of the week. Without going too deeply into the details of my personal life I basically lounged around, fixed my furnace (by MYSELF), and watched Black Widow.

Whether I liked it or not is immaterial at this point in my column. The REAL question was if I went back to the movie theaters or not since I’ve been both hemming AND hawing over that for the last year.

In the end…I elected to watch it from the safety of my own couch via Disney+. Honestly, it almost came down to a coin flip for me but I think deep down I wasn’t quite ready yet. Also, the price to watch it via the app was roughly the price of two tickets, and I could have as many beers as I wanted, and I got unlimited bathroom breaks. I wasn’t criticized for figuring out the movie’s twist well in advance of its reveal and it’s killing me that I can’t spoil it here since a certain Editor-In-Chief hasn’t seen it yet.

Black Widow was neither the best nor the worst Marvel movie. Since there are twenty-three of these damn things it’s becoming increasingly hard to have an official ranking that’s worth a shit and the MCU machine is warming back up so there’s only going to be more of them. By and large, I found it enjoyable if a little overdue. It’s a nice bit of connective tissue between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. We finally get to see what Natasha is up to when she’s not a supporting player and it’s just as good as any other solo outing for an Avenger.

As always, I’ve made it a point to stay away from Comics Twitter and YouTube hot takes but I’d have to imagine there’s a vocal and sweaty contingent of people out there clamoring for a Captain America 3.5: Steve Grows A Beard. I don’t think there’s even the slightest chance of that happening since the MCU is largely about the forward momentum of its own universe and Black Widow was a nice entry for one of the franchises historically underserved characters. But now she’s dead, DEAD! So we won’t be getting any more movies from her.

Or will we?

No. We won’t.

I’ve discussed with others that my perception of the movie may have been slightly altered by seeing it at home instead of in a theater. I’ve got a decent 4K TV but that doesn’t really compare to seeing it on a gigantic screen, now does it? If anything, it made me more aware of the context in which I experience movies for the first time. Black Widow did some pretty respectable numbers via streaming and surprisingly even more people showed up to see it in theaters. To me, it seems like a mixed release approach could indeed be a viable option for major MCU releases going forward.

The other thing that dawned on me while I was doing the bare minimum of research before writing this column is that it’s been almost two years to the day since there’s been a Marvel movie for me to see in the theater. I last saw an MCU movie in the theater on July 2, 2019 with Spider-Man: Far From Home which was just days before my personal life began a fairly unprecedented rocky period that I’m only just now starting to recover from.

Black Widow was delayed something like maybe three or four times before finally getting released. In the most boring days of 2020 it seemed like people were begging for it to be dumped on Disney+ but The Mouse held firm and ended up maximizing profits in the end. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. was like “You’re gonna get the Snyder Cut and you’re gonna fuckin’ like it. You can just sign up for HBO Max FOR FREE. We’re not even gonna make you pay for it!” In the end though, I think we all paid for it.

The final thought I had was that Black Widow came out on the heels of nearly three complete MCU TV shows on Disney+. Loki is finishing up this week and we’ve already spent loads of time with the EMMY NOMINATED WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. With Marvel/Disney putting up top tier TV efforts like these it’s quite odd to get a shorter movie offering mixed in with them. The lines between TV and Film are becoming more and more blurred and I can only wonder what this means for the future of entertainment.

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