Black Widow…Too Little Too Late?

A trailer for the new Black Widow solo movie came out today.

It looks like a pretty good movie.

But in all honesty, friends?

I do not feel very excited about it.

Can you just hear the exclamations of shock from Hollywood?

What’s wrong with you? Are you just not a fan?

It’s cause she’s a woman, isn’t it? People these days are so unevolved.

It’s a fantastic movie! You should love it!

You must just not love Black Widow.

First off, I sleep under a Captain America blanket every night. I protect that thing from harm like it was my baby. My Avengers leggings are my favorite leggings. I am a woman in her 20s who drinks out of a Marvel water bottle made for children. And I write a movie blog that often features Marvel content. Clearly, I am a fan.

Second, hello, I am a woman. Don’t play the woman card with me. Also, Captain Marvel was a smashing success and that was only her introduction movie, she wasn’t even an already a deeply beloved character. So, yeah, drop the woman card.

Like I said above, it looks like a good movie. I can see myself enjoying the action, the humor, and getting more of the backstory. The issue here is not actually with the movie itself.

Nat trust

“Maybe you just don’t love Black Widow that much.”

Wrong, the opposite is the truth. I loved Natasha Romanoff too much. That’s why I am not very excited.

Why do I feel this way? Endgame, Endgame is to blame.

endgame

The further I get away from Endgame, the more I am disappointed.

I didn’t want to be. I don’t walk into movies full of skepticism like many movie-goers. I prefer to live with excitement about something and then deal with the disappointment rather than live as a cynic and only be surprised now and then when something good actually happens.

I went into Endgame with high hopes. And I enjoyed many moments in the movie.

But truthfully…

Endgame fell far short of what Marvel had set us up to expect. And they failed heavily on the one thing that mattered the most.

Closure.

thor endgame battle

Thor gave up his entire 6 movie character arc to go hop around the galaxy and drink beer…and yet he gets another movie?

Tony Stark

We were not given a chance to properly mourn Tony. A choice was made to cut a scene that was under 2 minutes and could have changed the whole scope of how both we and our onscreen heroes were allowed to mourn our beloved Tony Stark.

This would have given us a chance to gain some closure from as far back as Civil War. The fact that Clint Barton is the very first Avenger to drop to one knee would have been deeply healing to me.

cap endgame

Steve left for the past without a proper goodbye. He left his two best friends in the world behind. Bucky he had fought tooth and nail to bring back to the light, and Sam had fought alongside him without complaint. They deserved more. We deserved more. Steve means more to us than no proper goodbye.

Now Steve has made a choice that largely rearranges Marvel history and we are supposed to just be okay with that? The dancing scene with him and Peggy didn’t even last long enough for us to get a full kiss.

With the exception of Rocket and Nebula, the Guardians were treated as a joke. It was entirely disrespectful of their beautiful character arcs and all of the progress they have made in their movies.

thor and starlord

I have other complaints but I’ll spare you the rant. The only Avenger done complete justice in Endgame was Scott Lang. And his reward is that he currently does not have any more movies on the docket.

Oh…but Nat. Nat.

Nat and Steve

Beautiful, warmhearted, undying spirit Nat. She was treated the worst.

Not only was her death incredibly unfair, but we were never given a chance to properly mourn her.

True, the heroes had to jump into the next thing immediately, I understand priorities. But we should have revisited her more beyond the few comments made by the people who loved her most. She deserved more. We, the fans, deserved more.

And Marvel let us down.

Natasha Romanoff absolutely 100% deserves her own movie. The issue is not with this movie itself, the issue is all about the timing. This movie is 2-3 years too late.

I do really appreciate that Marvel understands that a raw origin story movie for Natasha would not work. She’s come too far since appearing in Iron Man 2 for us to actually enjoy watching her as a “devolved” character. We wouldn’t even know her.

Marvel is smart with the place in the timeline they chose to feature Nat. Post-Civil War she’s a highly complex and beautiful character who is finally strong enough to face her past and deal with it properly. We get to enjoy learning the backstory while taking that journey with the Nat we truly know and love.

Natasha Civil War

But this movie should have been done 2-3 years ago. Much sooner after Civil War. Before we knew what happens. Before we knew how Nat’s story ended. Before we had tasted the bitter flavor of disappointment and grief.

That’s the danger of many Prequels, you know that eventually, Anakin must become Vader. And in this case, you know that Nat must die on a stupid planet in the middle of nowhere for a dumb stone and never be properly mourned.

Endgame created a ton of new gaps in our timeline, in our understanding of our characters, in our experience of this story. We are still walking around with those wounds, and now they want to go back and play with an old gap that should have been filled ages ago?

The world did need a Black Widow movie.

But my concern is that this may be too little too late. And that’s a shame because Natasha Romanoff deserves better.

Marvel trained us to expect deeply human stories. Powerful emotions. Gut-wrenching redemption arcs and betrayals. Characters that gave us the courage to keep facing our lives and live them well. Marvel has taught us to laugh, to cry, to grow, to grieve, to heal, to fight!

It’s not our fault that we feel the way we do, we responded to what they gave us. And in Endgame, Marvel let us down.

steven and nat endgame

Yes, I love Natasha Romanoff. I love her so much that I do not feel as excited about this movie as I want to. And that makes me sad.

I have a dream, a shy hope, that maybe, just maybe, the end scene of Black Widow will feature a certain Star-Spangled best friend popping up on Vormir and returning a nasty little orange stone. And then a flash…

“…I told you I’d see you in a minute.”

If that were to happen, my entire outlook on the future of Marvel would change.

I have struggled to put into words the disappointment and grief of things I have felt post-Endgame. I wrote a few articles on a few aspects of the movie I thought they did well.

The use of food in Endgame to connect characters and moments was really brilliant.

Sam Wilson really is the right heir-apparent for the shield, even though I do not like how he got it.

The amount of torn timelines, gaping holes, and unanswered questions post-Endgame is huge. Marvel cannot expect to just leave us hanging and grieving, can they?

Right now I look forward to Spider-Man’s story continuing, his story is always well-done and Tom Holland is a pure delight. But beyond that? Beyond that, I do not know. I do not feel very excited.

Widow and Hawkeye

Dear Marvel, you did me and my friends wrong, especially my girl Natasha here. You made this mess, so are you gonna fix it or what?

She deserves it.

I will likely see this movie. Whether I see it in theaters or not, I cannot say. But I fear that Black Widow may not make the splash it is expected to, and that has nothing to do with the character herself, or audiences, it has everything to do with the choices Marvel has made.

I hope that I see this movie and I enjoy it. I hope that I see this movie and find out my girl’s story isn’t over, in fact, it has just begun. I hope that Marvel has some secret-laid plans to untangle this mess and bring it back around.

That is my hope. I guess we’ll have to wait until May to see if it’s fulfilled or not.

……….

Were you disappointed by Endgame?

What is something you would have changed about the Marvel storyline up until now if you could?

Are you looking forward to Black Widow?

Comment and let’s discuss!

 

 

 

 

The Important Role Food Played In Avengers Endgame

Endgame was without a doubt the most “human” Avengers movie to date.

Everything from the different, non-superhero music “Dear Mr. Fantasy”  in the opening credits scene to the fact that Natasha Romanoff spent most of her non-Voromir scenes wearing comfy lounge-wear set a different tone for this story.

After everything that has happened over the past decade, the Russo brothers wanted a heavy emphasis on FAMILY in this story.

We’ve always been told to see our characters as a family. They have acted as a family with the teasing/inside jokes, and shared living spaces (yes, Vision, we’ve talked about this, you still need to knock on Wanda’s door before entering).

We’ve also seen them hurt each other and break one another’s hearts. We’ve seen the damage that can result from a family being broken apart. Civil War felt like a personal punch to the gut.

The Russo brothers confirmed that had the Avengers all been united in Infinity War that they would have actually beaten Thanos. It was possible, they had the power. But they were fractured, fighting on separate fronts, therefore they lost.

It’s a sobering reminder to us how important unity is and just how powerful families walking in unity can be.

We lost everything in Infinity War, but we also gained something that was Thanos’ ultimate undoing…

We got our family back, and this time they were stronger for the breaking.

One of the chief ways the Russo’s communicated this idea of togetherness and family was through a very visual feature.

Food.

I have never seen a Marvel movie that has this much eating in it. Sure, we’ve gotten cute moments of eating before. The famous “Shawarma” scene from the first Avengers is probably the most memorable one.

Food is necessary for our continued existence, but even more than that, food is a part of who we are.

When someone dies, we bring their family food. When a new life enters the world, we bring food.

Weddings are celebrated with food. Birthdays, sporting events, parties, and holidays as well.

People enjoy food together on dates, during long work hours, late night snacks, last minute taco runs, etc.

Food can also be used as an escape. Food can mark times and seasons as well as locations.

Food is comfort. Food is tradition. Food is artwork. Food is memories. Food is home. Food is a new adventure. Food is family. Food is gathering. Food is escapeFood is healing. Food is normal. Food is special. Food is celebration. Food is personal. Food is uniting. Food is provision. Food is safety. 

Food is the common thread that ties a whole life together, the good, the bad, and the glorious.

Avengers: Endgame was meant to tie all of the previous threads of the MCU together just as it was also meant to tie our characters together more strongly than ever before.

Every film is a conglomeration of many parts. If the set guy doesn’t do his job as well as the lighting lady does hers, the whole movie suffers. The musicians have to create music that illuminates the story. The actors have to bring the lines the scriptwriters wrote to life. The director has to see a million details and arrange how they come together in order to create a masterpiece.

No detail is too small. It is no mistake that there was so much food shown in this story, it was an excellent use of setting+props+actions to communicate the keyword, the solution, the most important theme for this entire story.

Together.

We open the movie to Clint Barton having an archery lesson with his lovely and strong daughter. In the background, his sweet wife is fixing hotdogs for lunch while the boys play catch. It’s calm, peaceful, and homey.

hawkeye farm scene

Clint pays no attention to the ankle bracelet he is wearing, it’s a forgotten object of his other life. This place, these people around the picnic table, this is his life, his heart, his home. Hotdogs at the picnic table, it doesn’t get much more normal and relatable than that.

One moment his wife is calling out for condiment orders, the next moment Clint’s entire family is dust. A very normal, familiar scene is turned into a horror show as he runs around screaming their names. The normalcy is polluted by the tragedy and shock.

Natasha Romanoff sits at an empty Avengers headquarters and talks to all of her super friends across the galaxy, trying to keep the whole universe safe at once.

And she’s making a peanut butter sandwich. A girl still has to eat, it is a strange juxtaposition. A woman in lounge pants making a peanut butter sandwich while managing intergalactic tensions and listening to the horrendous crimes her best friend Clint is committing in his grief.

She can barely choke the sandwich down, the peanut butter and the lump in her throat and her chest are in conflict with each other. #youcantcryandeatpeanutbutteritsscience

Steve Rogers drops by, and after threatening him with the sandwich Nat affectionately slides it across the table towards him. It’s a comfortable, casual kind of hospitality that shows their intimate friend/sibling relationship and trust.

nat and the sandwich

Scott Lang arrives in a flurry, he’s excited and he’s hungry. “Is that anybody’s sandwich? I’m starving!” #ilovethismansomuch

He downs the discarded sandwich in between sharing his brilliant idea to use the Quantum Realm to bring everyone back.

One sandwich tied together multiple characters. It was a strangely normal object in the midst of abnormal circumstances. It connected heavy grief, deep friendship, and new hope.

The hope of a new possibility. The sandwich connects the old mindset, the ruins of the previous era to the birthing of the new one that will drive the entire rest of the story for this movie and all that follow.

Tony Stark comes out of a very normal-looking cabin (normal for a Stark) to go bring his messy-haired little princess in for lunch. It’s such a darling domestic scene that highlights everything we ever wanted for our beloved Ironman.

A car pulls up, Steve, Nat, and Scott get out and interrupt the moment. Tony pours them some sort of healthy “smoothie”? A homemade smoothie likely made from the same vegetables we saw growing in the garden between the cabin and Morgan’s playhouse. They talk “quantum physics”  and saving the world, and Tony invites them to stay for lunch. They have to decline and leave to go talk to Dr. Banner.

tony and morgan

Later on, Tony is doing his dinner dishes in yet another scene of beautiful domesticity. The great Tony Stark does dinner dishes, AND in a moment of distraction, his own water sprayer attacks him. I loved that moment. He may be a genius/billionaire/superhero but even he gets attacked by his own water sprayer! #beentheredonethatandsohaveyou

He pulls up the specs to play with the idea of time travel while drinking another health drink (a neat callback to his famous green chlorophyll drinks) and munching on nuts.

Tony falls into his chair in shock at the discovery that this plan could work…only to be interrupted by Princess Morgan who wants juice pops. He tucks her in later and finishes off the juice pop.

 

Almost Tony’s entire story is summed up and highlighted by the use of food in these scenes. A callback to his earlier green drinks that were once upon a time his attempt to give himself a few more days to live in Ironman 2. 

His new life is such an opposite to the previous days of flashy towers, unhealthy sleep and eating habits, superficial relationships and constant noise.

This new life is deep, rich, simple, and pure. It’s wholesome and nourishing, just like the kinds of food we see around the Stark household. The juice pop is playful and childish, but it represents Morgan, therefore it’s utterly precious in it’s meaning.

Tony tells his wife that he may actually be able to save the world, all the while he is still playing with the stick from his baby girl’s juice pop.

This moment is huge for the Starks. Rather than jumping the gun, Tony actually has a calm and honest conversation with his wife that shows the vast growth and maturity of him as a character and of their relationship as a couple.

Pepper also shows huge growth as she actually listens to him, lets him know that she knows who he truly is, and gives him permission to pursue this new direction, knowing full well that she may lose him as a result. Tony is at peace when he makes this step, and he’s in unity with his wife. That peace enables him to unify with the rest of his family.

I believe that is why Tony is so incredibly successful this time around. Home and family were rooting for him now, he wasn’t reacting anymore, he was making conscious choices.

That sweet cabin with its vegetable garden and playhouse and two lovely ladies and a freezer of juice pops, that is why Tony Stark was able to defeat Thanos.

After thinking that Tony was out of the picture, Steve, Scott, and Nat go seek out Dr. Banner/aka Professor Hulk…and they meet at a diner.

The Dr. Banner of old would have been horribly uncomfortable in this casual, well-peopled setting, he would have felt exposed and nervous and been unable to relax. This time around Banner is fully in his element. He’s downing giant bowls of eggs and sausage and taking time for cool selfies with the neighborhood kids.

hulk at teh diner

It’s stinkin’ adorable. This big, green “Hulk” sitting at a little diner table eating eggs and sausage talking Quantum Physics, Time Travel, and selfies with his pals. Oh yes, and we noticed the “looks” he and Nat were trading. #youthoughtwewouldntnoticebutwedid

The small American diner is a common experience many of us have had throughout our entire lives. It is in this setting over eggs and sausage that part of our team comes together and begin a bizarre plan to save the world.

In previous movies, these kinds of plans were usually made dramatic surroundings, be it the Avenger’s Tower or the ruins of New York streets. The only thing that comes close is Nat and Steve enjoying breakfast at Sam’s house while they make a plan to take Hydra down. But that moment was still a reactionary thing.

Good, high quality food requires excellent planning, preparation, and proper execution. Just like good food, this Time Heist the Avengers have to pull out cannot be a haphazard plan, this is their Sistine Chapel. This is their Great Wall of China. It’s their masterpiece.

Our heroes have had to react after the fact so many times over. In their line of work, that’s often the only way to do it and maintain some balance of freedom. Like Cap says, “I thought the punishment came after the crime.” It’s hard to anticipate every threat without aiming a whole gun at the world.

But this time around they have had five years to sit and think about Thanos’ crime. This time they have a chance to take a breath, assemble the pieces of their plan carefully, do their research, and launch from a place of preparation.

This isn’t a quick breakfast before or shawarma after, this is a fine, full meal that our Avengers have planned. Most of our characters have grown immensely over the past 5 years, they have nourished different parts of themselves that were always on hold before.

Scott Lang is sitting outside about to enjoy a lovely taco when suddenly all of his toppings are blasted out of his shell by the arrival of the Milano bringing Rocket and Nebula. He stares open-mouthed (oh how I love this man) only to be called an idiot by Nebula (WHY? Cause he’s excited to see a spaceship? I call that charming, sister, get over yourself!) And then he’s scared half to death by the arrival of Rhodey, who thoroughly enjoys calling him “Regular-sized man.”

I was so panicked that Scott would be left a laughingstock with no taco, but then Hulk walks by, beams at him, and gives him not just one taco, but two. Scott beams back. It’s one of the most adorable moments of the whole movie.

hulk gives taco

Hulk/Banner is so chipper, so benevolent, for how heavy some of the other parts of the movie are, Banner’s turnaround was really refreshing to me. This moment showed just how far he’s come, how at peace he is with himself. It also cemented the fact that Scott is an accepted member of the family now, he gets to share their tacos.

Tacos are playful and celebratory. Both Professor Hulk and Scott Lang provide some of the lightest moments in this movie, they were bouyant characters who lifted it up even as the subject matter and parts of the storyline were really heavy.

We see food used in a negative context with Thor. From the bulging beer belly to the pizza that looked non-to-fresh (where did he even get pizza in New Asgard?), we see that Thor has not been nourishing himself well in the past five years.

chunky thor

I do not judge him, that man had taken more hits of grief one after another than almost anyone else leading up to Thanos. His personal crash dive was inevitable and made him more “human”. But food has had a negative effect on him, it has become an escape as well as a prison to him.

Even this very shocking change in our handsome god of Thunder made this movie seem more normal. We have experienced grief, and many of us have medicated with food, and some have medicated with alcohol.

But just like we try to bring those broken brothers and sisters back into the fold, so our Avengers family bring their broken brother back home. He may feel unworthy, but they have not forgotten who he is. They still need him, they still want him. It’s a beautiful thing.

Gathering together in unity around a feast of ideas, personalities, abilities, and experiences; this is how the Avengers save the world. Together.

The most prominent scene involving our Avengers and food is around the dining room table during the Time Heist planning montage. It’s an utterly charming montage of people sprawled all over furniture, storytelling, note-taking, and yes, eating noodles.

I loved, loved, LOVED this quick scene. No, I didn’t appreciate Rocket giving Scott such a hard time for his excitement over space. GUYS! Would you all give this man a break? Part of what I love about Scott is his open-eyed wonder and enjoyment of all the super stuff around him. He’s exactly how I would be if I suddenly became a superhero but I was still me. He’s adorable.

scott endgame

But we see most of the team taking in some delicious looking Chinese takeout. Thor is at his drinks again. Rocket is walking on the table as he shares about the Power Stone, and no one blinks an eye. Hulk is eating a giant carton of ice cream that given the color and ingredients we can only assume it is Ben and Jerry’s Hulk Hunka Burning Fudge flavor mentioned in Infinity War.

They are all so…weird.

Rocket is on the table. He’s a raccoon with a deadly shot, brilliant mind, and sassy mouth, and specific cleanliness standards just like any other raccoon. Thor, King of Asgard, the god of Thunder is wearing a dirty hoodie and drinking cheap beer. This dude can literally fly and channel lightning through his body.

Billionaire, genius, playboy, philanthropist-now-husband-father Tony Stark. Serum-super WWII hero Steve Rogers.

Nebula, an alien/cyborg who really needs to see a counselor. James Rhodes, former military-rule-stickler turned Avenger who gets around with his robotic legs.

Scott Lang, a brilliant thief who can become smaller than comprehendible or the size of a giant. Natasha, formerly a ruthless killing machine turned into the biggest, sweetest heart we’ve ever seen.

Clint Barton, husband, father, expert bowman, samurai assassin? And Professor Hulk. He’s huge, green, playful, and sophisticated.

They are so weird, but they are teammates. They are partners. They are a family. They have gathered together as individuals carrying their own griefs, their own burdens, their own regrets.

They also came to carry each other’s burdens as well, to stand side by side and fight not just for their own sakes, but for the sake of their loved ones and millions of strangers.

A family dinner with the Avengers means that the earth is about to shake. Good is about to happen. Darkness is about to fall from its throne. This family is gearing up to take down evil and bring life together.

avengers planning endgame

The final mention of food is the one that brings us full circle in this decade of films. It’s the part of the movie that got me the hardest.

Cheeseburgers.

Dangit, Happy! I cried harder when Happy got choked up than at any other part of this movie.

Cheeseburgers. Cheeseburgers.

Cheeseburgers marked the turning point of Tony Stark. The moment he came back from captivity in the Middle East the first thing he asked for was cheeseburgers, and a press conference.

Tony had come back from the Middle East a changed man. He saw a bigger picture now, he was not just living for himself anymore, he had decided to use his incredible gifts to make the world a better place. “Don’t waste it.” 

Tony didn’t. He made a heck of a mess along the way, he made a lot of mistakes, hurt some people, but oh man, he did NOT waste it.

The sweet moment where Happy is cuddling Morgan on the front porch and being a kind, fatherly figure to her was such a precious, gut-wrenching moment.

Like father, like daughter. Morgan just did something really hard, and she’s setting out on a new journey that is going to be hard, she wants cheeseburgers. #somebodyhelpmemyhurtiswounded

cheeseburgers

This movie is a masterpiece. It brought together so many precious stories, so many beloved characters, so many hard and triumphant moments. It used imperfect characters to bring heartache and healing.

It gave us redemption, second chances, and a new future. It encouraged us to walk out of those theater doors as changed people, changed for the better.

The use of food in this movie was like a thread in a rich tapestry, a bit of theme music on low volume, present but subtle.

It added to the richness and the purpose of this story and appealed to our personal experiences. It reminded us of old and precious memories and gave us new ones. It marked times and seasons, it tied our characters together and drew them even closer to us, the audience.

Endgame is unlike any movie I have ever seen in my life. I don’t know if you could replicate that level of amazing. Like a fine meal, there are so many layers to be addressed.

I left the theater feeling very full in my heart. Some parts of the feast that was Endgame were sweet, others were bitter, some were salty. But regardless, I walked away feeling full.

Future filmmakers should take notes from the excellent use of food in this movie. It was not a 100% necessary element, but it was used effectively to flesh out a story in an unforgettable way.

Thank you, Anthony and Joe Russo, you gave us a feast.

Endgame: Sam Wilson the New Captain America

Dear Chris Evans