Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff and Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova sit together on a motorcycle in the movie 'Black Widow'

Honest Trailer for Black Widow Roasts the Marvel Formula We’ve Seen Again and Again

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With Black Widow generating headlines now for Hollywood Lawsuit Reasons, it seems like a time for some lighter-hearted content about the film. Honest Trailers comes through, and while their usual brand of teasing out the absurdities in a movie is in full swing, what really gets roasted here is less Black Widow and more the MCU’s tried and true plot formula.

The trailer starts out by highlighting how Natasha has spent many, many movies helping male superheroes discover important things about themselves over the years. “Now Natasha finally gets to tell her own story … about the time she helped her own replacement join the MCU.”

Ouch, but this is a pretty accurate take on Black Widow, which some reviews have framed as seeming more like an elaborate pilot to introduce Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova than a solo send-up to Natasha.

“You’ve been waiting to see the MCU’s first female superhero get her own movie, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting. But Natasha Romanoff is finally getting the mid-tier Marvel movie she deserves.”

Ouch squared! But also, once more, this is accurate. My experience was that Black Widow was aggressively fine, with a lot of plot elements we’ve seen in Marvel movies time and time again. It felt like a movie that would have been great 10 years ago (when they should have started making multiple Black Widow movies alongside Iron Man’s, Captain America’s, and Thor’s). But now it’s difficult not to feel like we’ve seen its arc and characterizations play out ad infinitum.

Honest Trailers nails the exact formula:

“Because the ultimate sign of respect in pop culture is getting your chance to keep important object X out of the hands of military leader Y by taking down massive airship Z. I know Marvel’s taking some risks here and there [cut to flashes of Wandavision and Loki], but this one definitely sticks to the old plan.”

I’m hoping that future Marvel movies will break out of this mold and that Black Widow stands as a final testament to Phase 3. It may technically be Phase 4, but the events take place way back when. Anyway, here are a few more spot-on lines from the Honest Trailer:

“Journey to Russia, where everyone speaks with their best, uh, let’s call it Sokovian accent, or just doesn’t even try. Unless you’re actually from Eastern Europe—in which case, you are mute.”

There’s also some pretty spot-on analysis of how many times Natasha should have died or been seriously injured in this film and pops right back up. Natasha is a thoroughly trained badass mega-spy, but the appeal of a superhero who’s fully human and not “enhanced” means that sometimes we should feel like their feats are maybe possible in the real world, or at least the repercussions of, say, falling off a building and hitting parts of it multiple times on the way down?

I laughed out loud when they also perfectly branded Taskmaster, who unfortunately falls victim to what I’ll call “the Bucky Barnes formula” in the movie.

An image of the villain Taskmaster from the 'Black Widow' Honest Trailer

“Thrill at a story that dares to ask, what if the most powerful force on earth, girl power, fell into the wrong hands? As the evil mastermind, Harvey Weinstein—I mean Dreykov—builds a floating fortress that evades detection because … it’s cloudy … and uses the power of his colossal stank to keep him safe.”

There you have it! Black Widow, in summation. Again, this movie is fine, but Natasha deserved a better story, better villains, and a better showcase. Unfortunately, considering those Hollywood Lawsuit Reasons, we’ll likely not be seeing Nat in a Marvel movie again.

(via Honest Trailers, image: Marvel Studios)

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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.