A superhero with a politically charged message? We have no choice but to stan.
Black Widow is finally here, and Marvel really did the damn thing with this one.
This movie brought everything it needed to bring. It was dramatic but filled with comedic relief, it dove into Natasha’s past (finally), and introduced us to a powerful family dynamic that we can’t help but fall in love with.
PLUS, it brought us Yelena Belova (aka my queen, Florence Pugh).
But I think what really stood out to me is the larger symbolism in this movie — particularly the real-world implication of human trafficking and women’s reproductive rights.
WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS!!!!!!!!
This is by no means the first Marvel movie to touch on important real-world themes — Black Panther did it with isolationism and oppression, and recently, Falcon and the Winter Soldier illuminated police brutality in the US and global unrest.
But I think this movie did a great job of exposing the horrors of human trafficking while still maintaining the essence of an uplifting Marvel film.
The opening credits sequence, which many are saying is one of the most chilling in Marvel history, shows the brainwashing that takes place in locations where victims of trafficking are often housed.
For what seems like an eternity, the camera pans across the faces of terrified girls as they are stripped of their identities and sent to the Red Room.
We watch as a screaming Natasha and Yelena are forcibly separated and ushered into large vans — eerily similar to what happens in real-life trafficking situations.
And Marvel doesn’t shy away from presenting the horrors of trafficking, including human experimentation, that can ultimately lead to death.
Which…brings me to perhaps the most heartbreaking part: Melina, Natasha and Yelena’s adoptive mother. Victims of human trafficking are often trafficked by someone close to them. And while Melina does later become a hero, her complacency in her daughters’ initial capture shows the vicious cycle of abuse that can run in victims’ families, since Melina herself was once a product of the Red Room.
Then, we have the scene where Yelena explains to Alexei the process of a forced hysterectomy — the removal of the uterus. While training in the Red Room, all of the girls are subjected to an involuntary hysterectomy, meaning they don’t get their periods and cannot get pregnant.
Then, we have the moment in the finale where Natasha is unable to attack her abuser because of the pheromone block that Dreykov imposed on all of the widows, which prevents them from fighting back.
And finally, the line that almost broke my heart: when Dreykov says, “using the only natural resource that the world has too much of…girls.”
All of the atrocities that Yelena and Natasha are forced to endure only make the film’s ending all the more powerful. Natasha forcibly breaks her own nose to sever the pheromone block, thereby ending Dreykov’s control over her and freeing herself once and for all.
She is taking back her control and taking back her right to choose, and to me, it was symbolic of the strength, resilience, and hardships human trafficking survivors must endure.
I commend Marvel and director Cate Shortland for creating a movie that delves into such an important issue and presenting the information in a way that is easier to digest and understand.
I think one of the reasons this film is so excellent is that not only is it about a badass superhero, but it’s about a badass superhero fighting against real-world horrors and winning.
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