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Marvel's Black Widow



  • It's amusing to me that when there's a female director people are quick to doubt she had a hand in the action sequences and that there's a "disconnect". Red Letter Media criticised Marvel for daring to *gasp* get a director who could deliver the story they wanted and choosing her based on her previous work! The shock! The horror!

    Also, I honestly didn't think the CGI in the last act was bad? I've seen far worse.

  • I think the big CG finale is more irksome in this case because the car chase shows you can have these characters in a more grounded, down-to-Earth action set piece - something particularly fitting for a non ‘super-powered’ hero like Black Widow or Hawkeye.

  • The MCU films have much of its set pieces locked in through pre-vis stages; I doubt many of its directors bar perhaps Gunn and Wahtiti, maybe the Russo's, have an active hand in the FX heavy action scenes. It's a rumour/open secret going around that marvel discourage its directors from "doing" the action (and apparently another director in line for Black Widow said as much, after she expressed enthusiasm to helm those parts).

    Gender has nothing to do with it TBH, and if anything Shortland obviously showed chops with the more physical scenes such as in Budapest. A finale of physical stuntwork would have been awesome; while the Moonraker finale, I'd put money on being shielded from those pesky onset creatives.

  • The car chase was alright (I'm not a fan of car chases in general). For me, the best action sequences were in the beginning. Like when Natasha and Yelena were fighting it out. It was hyper violent and raw and showed how well trained they were. Would have liked more of that throughout but the CGI third act was no worse than the other Marvel films.

  • Yep, it's a shared problem across pretty much every single MCU film. For me, it stands out more in Black Panther and Black Widow as those are two of the only films in the franchise I actually kinda like as standalone films (alongside the likes of Thor Ragnarok) - but both of which are regrettably undermined by particularly generic MCU third acts.

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  • It was irritating me who the other director was; the one offered the Black Widow gig before Cate Shortland got it - so dug it out: Lucrecia Martel (Zama). By her words, she sounded pretty stoked to direct BW, but went cold when she was told she wouldn't have any hand in the action scenes.

    “They also told me, ‘Don’t worry about the action scenes, we will take care of that.’ I was thinking, well I would love to meet Scarlett Johansson but also I would love to make the action sequences.

    Companies are interested in female filmmakers but they still think action scenes are for male directors. The first thing I asked them was maybe if they could change the special effects because there’s so many laser lights. I find them horrible. Also the soundtrack of Marvel films is quite horrendous. Maybe we disagree on this but it’s really hard to watch a Marvel film. It’s painful to the ears to watch Marvel films.”

    The second paragraph suggests she might have been a little too eager to shake up the formula a little, but does go some way to show just how set in stone set-pieces are. Martel could have had some interesting, imaginative set-pieces in mind but nope, just do the talky bits please. Another article I'm reading claims Winter Soldier had 90+ minutes of previs. That's crazy stuff - especially given that was one of the relatively more ground-level films. To be fair, for something as humungous as Infinity War, it made total sense to previs every last minute.

  • Lucrecia Martel has a much stronger visual storytelling signature than Shortland, so not surprising at all she clashed with the studio.

    I always go back to Edgar Wright - the one working director perhaps most naturally suited to bringing a Marvel comic book style to life, but hit 'creative differences' with the studio. How Chloe Zhao's Eternals fares is perhaps the most interesting lingering question, as someone with such distinct arthouse sensibilities has yet to take on one of these films.

  • The trailer was very evocative of Zhao's style, but then if what we know continues to hold true, presumably whatever big set pieces mark Eternals' major narrative moments will have been agreed upon with or without the director's thoughts. And given that film looks more steeped in the magical and uncanny, there may even be more previs than something like Black Widow.

    But hey: the MCU have their formula, and I'm not naive to think Phase IV is going herald some giant experimental swing away from what has clearly worked very well for the studio. Really the only grumble is when a movie swerves one way, then 180s back to type by the movie's end.

    It'll be interesting to see if Sam Raimi's noted creative flair will find itself in the Dr. Strange sequel; that's one director who has a distinct bag of visual tricks - not unlike Edgar Wright - so we'll see if the final film has any reflection of that.

  • I watched this over the weekend while I was working. It was grand, and some bits were better than others. I heard someone earlier saying the prison scene was pointless, but i thought it was fun. But it was mainly there as a CGI set piece.

    I've never really liked Scarlet Johansson as an actor, and I think Florence Pugh showed her up in a lot of the scenes.

    David Harbour was brilliant though, played his character really well.

    Ray Winstone, I just don't understand why he was cast if he couldn't pull off the accent.

  • any male MCU directors have a lot of help with actions/cgi scenes having not done many before ?

    cate shortland (half-jokingly) said she was hiding from marvel because she didn't think she could do it, they've picked many directors who had a big leap in budget and scale of film Im sure they all had to depend on the other department heads

    Post edited by expectationlost on

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  • Black panther's CGI end fight on the trains wasn't great but the rest of the effects were good with Ryan Coogler making a big point of how much the studio does to help for the CGI for less familiar directors.

    Creed was his biggest and that was only ~35m and a lot of sub million stuff and shorts. People can't expect to be handed 200m and let off.

  • So I didn't hyperlink Ryan Coogler's name and it is, so that's new.

  • Are you sure you didn’t paste it from somewhere?

  • I thought it was good.

    Something about the actress playing the young Natasha (what was with the blue hair) reminded me more of a young Milla Jochovich rather than Scarlet Johannssen.

    Going forward with Florence Pugh. I hope they keep the accent and don't americanize it like with Scarlet Witch.

  • This has pulled in $262 million worldwide so far; like everything else released ATM, I can't figure if this is good, bad or about right for CoVid era cinemas. The other factor of course being it's a premium "purchase" on Disney+.

    I'm only fascinated because I wonder if this is how things will be moving forward - is the era of the 1+ billon blockbuster on the way out? Which, IIRC, was what the last MCU film made

    Post edited by pixelburp on

  • I thought the exact same about the young Nashasa - so wasn't surprised to find out she's actually Milla's daughter! She's the spit of her.

    Also, really liked this movie even though I haven't been excited about MCU stuff for a good while. It had a bit of humour that's been sorely missing (with the exception of Ragnarok).

  • Ive seen the film referred to as both a success and disappointment in terms of box office, so we’re still very much in the pandemic uncertainty period.

    It is an interesting turning point for the series even beyond that. It’s a weird follow-up film for a character who is already dead in the series. It comes after the years-long build up reached its fairly definitive conclusion with Endgame. You have a whole bunch of unknown and b-tier characters next up on the roster. And the MCU has now very much become ‘home entertainment’ as well with the TV series and even this film’s digital release (personally, I think the series has long been more akin to a serialised tv show - in terms of both narrative and aesthetics- than cinema, so it’s a natural fit). You’d also have to wonder if a sort of saturation point has been reached - I’m sure they were hits by streaming metrics, but Loki and Falcon didn’t seem to have the same sort of cultural impact as Mandalorian or even WandaVision.

    So it’s kind of a weird time for the mega-franchise, and hard to know what way it’ll go - hard to judge from one film released at the tail end of a pandemic. But it will be an interesting year or two while we see if the upcoming films return to being reliable megahits - I’m sure no Disney+ releases will be a helping hand in that regard.

  • Them making $262m with substantially less advertisement than if it was getting a global theatrical release, traditional box office is the full door price so includes cinemas cut. But $262m with a $200m budget plus whatever they did spend on advertising.

    30 for premium plus whatever amount of new Disney plus subs they got (which probably wasn't included in figure), who might now stay around watching Wandavision, F&WS, and Loki plus all the Star wars stuff.

    Hard to know what it'd make in a normal year, it's not 1bn plus but would have probably been 600-750. Cinemas make 50% in US at opening weekend and then more as time goes on and the studios get's less outside US. I'd say they're probably going to come out ahead in the end after another few weeks of which they're still going to be making the full $30 rather than a ever decreasing cut of ticket price.

    Going forward I'd say a lot of kids movies will still continue with the premium as it makes so much more sense for them (plus plus subs for the rest of time), and then it'll depend on the particulars for the rest. If they've Thor on premium then they are fully behind it as that will probably have been a big one and is far enough away that most places will be back up and open.

  • I'd agree with most of that. The only thing I'd note is The Mandalorian doesn't really track with the MCU shows as comparisons. Not as suggestion of saturation imo.

    The former took the world by storm jn being the kind of Star Wars adaptation fans craved, while the film series floundered into oblivion of critical/financial flops (Mando came out a mere month before Rise of Skywalker). Season 2 even managing some genuinely evocative and stylish episodes, such as a Kurosawa inspired one, or a fantastic character outing with Bill Barr of all people. Having an irresistibly cute sidekick character also helped really solidify the viral success of course. The show could only hope to exceed expectations.

    The MCU shows come from an already successful, largely beloved series of films. As you say, effectively TV series in their own right. If anything they have only underwhelmed, failing to mark themselves out and being a bit shoddy in places (though I've heard CoVid really harmed the Falcon show, necessitating hasty retooling). While it's rigid universe makes it hard to cut loose and tell something really different, even transgressive. Against something like Invincible or even the adolescent The Boys, the MCU shows feel quaint (that's speaking as someone who loved Loki, and saw the potential of Wandavision. Haven't seen Falcon yet, truthfully).

  • Wandavision was the series that had people most interested and it completely missed its mark which then harmed the shows that came after.

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  • Wandavision missed its mark? Personally, I thought it was fantastic, start to finish. Sure, it was odd and slow for the first 3/4 episodes but it was also fresh and wonderful. The finale delivered in spades - walking the line between blockbuster budget smackdown, and... Vision beating Vision with a thought experiment. The Quicksilver red herring is the only mark against it IMO. Also... 23 Emmy nominations. Disney knocked that show out of the park. I don't think that show had an impact on Falcon or Loki either. Both shows stood on their own, with their own merits and failings.

  • didn't particularily like the car chase, would have preferred to see more taskmaster fights up close, it was them two talking and then taskmaster killing or injuring a load of people in the APC, maybe it was supposed make TM seem like the terminator that didn't care about people at all, suggesting it was a robot of some sort...

  • Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney Over ‘Black Widow’ Streaming Release

  • Seems fair enough at first blush; a lot of these blockbusters were shoved onto streaming services with little ceremony, and, it turns out, without factoring in actor's contracts re. shares of the box office. Maybe that's it; perhaps in another bout of Hollywood Accounting it was figured they could bypass payouts to big stars if they paralleled these releases between cinemas and streaming. Wonder what Johansson was expecting - or promised with the original contract. Given Spider-Man: Far From Home made 1.1 billion, I suspect the answer was ... quite a lot.

  • The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news of the lawsuit, reports that sources close to Johansson estimate that the decision to release the film concurrently on Disney + resulted in $50 million in lost bonuses

  • Looking at boxofficemojo site. (first that came up when googled for mcu movie box office

    I wouldn't have expected it to do as well as it has in comparison to other films. Though I am curious how well it would've done if cinema only release and/or there was no pandemic. And would the premium fee count as box office to go to her percentage?

  • I can see why. She has nothing to lose and appears on the face of it a breach of contract might have occurred.

    Some suspected she'd some day return in one way or another to the MCU as these things tend to go in franchises but this does confirm 100% watertight she will not be in any other Disney/Marvel movie going forward.

  • if the contract said exclusive theatrical release, then it’s as clear day that she has every right to sue. I’d love to see if Disney have themselves covered somewhere in the contract.

    Personally I think it looks bad on scarlett johansson. The pandemic has hurt a lot of people at Disney, the film division, theme parks, cruise lines, etc. They all took a huge hit. Disney+ and premier access have been the saving grace for Disney. The two Bobs have done exceptionally well to keep the company in a healthy position and have possibly saved a ton of jobs. I genuinely believe the premier access and same day release was the best option here to minimise the loss.

    Did ScoJo lose money? Yes, but so did Disney, so did the theme park workers, so did the cruise line workers, so did the contractors and staff that where due to work on the delayed movies. Unfortunately that’s just one of the many consequences of a global pandemic.

  • Think she was the reason it didn't launch on Disney+ before now as well as it needed a theatrical release.

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  • I am curious that they didn't give her a cut of the disney+ release in exchange for dropping that part of her contract out. They had to have realised it was part of the contract and easier to deal with than lawyers later on unless they didn't think she would push it.

    I doubt many will think worse of her for catching out the Disney legal team though.