Black Widow and Gunpowder Milkshake: Violent retribution

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I must state at the outset that this is not a traditional movie review and admit that it worries me when so much violence abounds on screen and off. Can violent retribution ever be justified? Superheroes have always attracted viewership – eradicate the baddies and save the world, but where does one draw the line? Most of all, however, could the scenarios push someone over the edge into a world which he/she perceives to be providing a solution?

There are two movies which come under the spotlight: “Black Widow” and “Gunpowder Milkshake” – both dealing with abandoned daughters who through force of circumstance have had to fend for themselves and take on the world with a vengeance as femmes fatales.

Black Widow

After much hype Scarlett Johansson aka Natasha Romanoff/ The Black Widow has arrived and I must state that it’s more of a ‘biopic’ than a Marvel action-adventure. It’s a journey into Natasha’s altercations and the enemies she formed prior to joining S.H.I.E.L.D.

In the production notes she states: “I think from the very beginning when we first talked about doing this standalone film, there was no reason to do it unless we could dig really deep. Having played this character for a decade, I wanted to make sure that it would feel artistically and creatively rewarding for me as well as the fans.”

Director Cate Shortland adds: “We’re exploring part of Natasha that the audience has absolutely no idea about. We explore her family, her love and passion… and, you get to see all these facets. I worked with a Russian historian in London to build a history of where she would’ve been born, why her mother would’ve given her up and what her childhood would’ve been like before she went into the Red Room.”

To-date she has been the most reticent Marvel character and now she’s emerged from the shadows. Onto girlchild number two – the similarities and the differences.

Gunpowder Milkshake

Almost every child enjoys being treated to a milkshake, but this is at a diner which is like no other…  a venue where assassins are supposed to leave their guns at the door and literally the only place that Sam (Karen Gillan) gets to spend time with her mother. That is until… at the age of 12 she is abandoned and raised by The Firm – a syndicate which molds her into a highly trained assassin. This begs the question: Would you view an assassin as a superhero if he/she is eradicating ‘the scum of the earth’?

Now for an interesting titbit: All five leading ladies Karen Gillan, Lena Heady (Sam’s mother – Scarlet) and the three librarians – Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh and Carla Gugino have played roles in at least two Marvel superhero movies… yet another tie to Black Widow.

Bullets spew, mixed martial arts abound not to mention all the blood and gore… John Wick in female form. However, when it comes to saving the life of a little girl, Sam goes to the nth degree… there’s no way that abandonment is even a consideration.


Neither of the movies kept me totally enrapt, but the cinematography and the use of lighting in Gunpowder Milkshake is superb… and for that alone is worth a trip to the cinema (though, in my opinion, they could have cut half-an-hour off of the runtime and created a much more impressive impact). Scarlett Johansson, on the other hand is a superb actress and she certainly breathes life and plausibility into her character. However, neither are for sensitive viewers as violence, murder and mayhem are integral elements.






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