The wait for “Black Widow” is just about over, meaning critics can finally share their thoughts on Scarlett Johansson’s long-awaited solo Marvel film and the first post-pandemic flick in the MCU. Many reviews have praised the movie’s high-octane action and empowering message, but one critic seems to have missed the memo on the latter point, leading readers to slam him as “creepy” and “f—ing gross.”
Published on Tuesday, Peter Bradshaw’s review of “Black Widow” for The Guardian includes some bizarre observations, beginning with its opening sentence. “The sensuous cough-syrup purr of Scarlett Johansson’s voice is something I’ve missed in lockdown,” Bradshaw wrote. “Now it’s back with a throaty vengeance.”
But wait, there’s also an unnecessary detour into the protagonist’s “daddy issues.” Later in the piece, Bradshaw surmises about Black Widow’s relationship with her father, played by David Harbour, and whether it influenced her attraction to Bruce Banner, aka The Hulk.
“Somehow, the most teasingly potent relationship revealed here is that electra complex, the bond between Black Widow and her preposterous old dad, who is very large, very given to fits of temper and likes smashing things,” Bradshaw wrote. “Does this, perhaps, give us a Freudian clue to Black Widow’s tendresse for Dr. Bruce Banner, the alter ego of Hulk? This glimpse into her troubled psyche is worth the price of admission on its own.”
Although the majority of the review is standard practice, lines like these stood out to readers, with many taking to Twitter to rip what they felt is a sexist framing of one of cinema’s few female superhero films.
Screen Rant features editor Alisha Grauso called out Bradshaw for failing the “Middle-Aged Male Film Critics Stop Being So GD F’ing Creepy When Writing About Female Characters” Challenge.
“I mean honest to God, have you ever seen a legitimate, professional female film critic writing like this about male characters/actors in a review of a Marvel movie? No,” Grauso added. “And yet crap like this about female characters and attractive actresses proliferates in reviews written by men.”
The Hill reporter Zack Budryk also chimed in: “This reads like something a serial killer would read over the phone to the detective who failed to stop him.”
Bradshaw’s review arrives not long after Johansson made headlines for calling out the “piece of ass” treatment of her Black Widow character in earlier MCU films. However, she also praised the character’s evolution in more recent films and in her new standalone adventure.
Read more responses below.
“Black Widow” hits theaters and Disney+ Premier Access on July 9.