This is disappointing. It's not a good indication that the lawsuit its star, Scarlett Johansson, brought against Disney is more interesting than the movie "Black Widow" itself. It could've been different. It could've been a movie without any future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe of endless sequels. Like its deceased Avenger who's not even an Avenger at this point of a prequel. Like the sterilization the character was forced to undergo in her past. The selection of a genetically-gifted and trained life free from subjugation, with an individual identity, free will beyond procreation and the cycle of slavery, rebellion, and slavery again. Alas, Disney and Marvel have no interest in quality, stand-alone productions. They care about setting up the next episode, about copyright-extended brands, fecund intellectual property that may reproduce ad infinitum. Johansson's contract may be finished, but as the villain says, women are the one resource of the world in overabundance. Disney is that villain. It shouldn't take an incompetent publicity statement in response to a lawsuit to figure that out. Heck, it almost seems intentional that the villain resembles Harvey Weinstein, and Disney did own Miramax at one point.
Despite the MCU having only two female-led superhero installments out of, what, 25 movies now and having still let the shambolic DCEU beat them to the punch with the first one, "Wonder Woman" (2017)--not to even count the two such DC movies before this cinematic universe stuff, I'm not saying Disney is particularly misogynistic. I'm not saying that here, at least. The corporate disdain for people is more general than that. People are the abundant resource, and they're in markets across the globe. Look at the generic map on the screen as the also-generic Bond villain elaborates on his evil, Soviet Hydra plan--I think the tvtropes website calls this the "spreading disaster map graphic" trope--it might as well be Disney's distribution blueprint: plant these "Widows" of no free will around the world to wreak havoc, effect the stock market, an' such. Speaking of tropes, too, the outcry over supposed "fridging" of Black Widow in "Endgame" (2019) was silly, but they really did it this time and in her own movie.
Had the filmmakers realized and intended this, it'd be a different story, but I suspect as with the scenario of sleeper cells and the antidote freeing them, for a movie released during a pandemic, it was happenstance. Albeit, Jac Schaeffer wrote the story here, and she was the head writer behind the intelligently reflexive "WandaVision" (2021), tailor-made for its episodic TV medium. Not this time, though. The results are merely the usual MCU junk at lower stakes and the fight choreography is literally mirrored, as is the rest with a lot of "The Winter Soldier" (2014) recycling, like SHIELD another secret lair in the sky, climaxing in a jump that's hardly even as impressive as when done at the beginning of "Iron Man 2" (2010), a found family throughline that might as well have been ripped-off from the maudlin "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" (2017), communists instead of Nazis for the aforementioned ham-fisted Hydra variation, even a prison break and an avalanche and throw in some "Mission: Impossible" while you're at (you'll know what I'm talking about when you see it), for crying out loud, and an opening act that looks like it was made for TV, but not even the TV that did it better--i.e. "The Americans."
I mean, look at those opening credits; that's a thematic TV-show montage. It's hideous. It's not surprising that a lot of the filmmakers behind this have TV experience. Heck, they cast that guy, O. T. Fagbenle, who plays the sensitive man in "The Handmaid's Tale" to essentially play the same role here, and that other guy, David Harbour, from "Stranger Things" where he plays the gallant father figure to a superheroic girl does that again here, too. And, that's not even to describe the end-credits scene.
Rachel Weisz is too good for this, as is Johansson, so I'm glad she's out. How is this family-bonding schmaltz supposed to be heartwarming anyways--nonchalantly abandoning their children to be sterilized, mind-controlled and turned assassins for most of their lives, but, oh, they spent three happy years together in Ohio? Get out of here. At least the sisterly bond works well enough, and Florence Pugh's Black Widow 2 mocking Black Widow's being a poser is the only joke here that lands (heh, get it?). Besides, the dysfunctional family junk isn't even the most oblivious thing about another Disney-MCU corporatist abomination that pretends it's solved another societal ill. Sexism this time; racism and squatting, or borders, or something, the outing before last with "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" (2020). Throw $20 million at the problem; that'll fix it, right.
On second thought, the worst thing about this might be that it also ruins the Budapest MCU story we never got, where now we're told that Black Widow and Hawkeye spent days confined together in cramped quarters and what they did was play tic-tac-toe. Overbred but sexless. That is unless counting the so-called (by Laura Mulvey, that is) "male gaze" despite a female director, with camera setups seemingly going out of their way to copiously focus on Johansson's posterior. Black Widow exits the MCU the same way she entered it. What a pity.