Skip To Content

    "Black Widow" Isn't Just A Movie About Natasha's Past, But About The Atrocities Millions Of Young Girls Face

    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.

    Marvel Studios / Via giphy.com

    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.

    Alexei holding hands with Natasha and Yelena
    Everett Collection

    PLUS, it brought us Yelena Belova (aka my queen, Florence Pugh).

    Disney + / Marvel

    Trolling Natasha in her own movie. So meta.

    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.

    Disney + / Marvel

    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.

    Black Panther standing with all of his team
    Marvel Studios

    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.

    Disney + / Marvel

    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.

    Disney + / Marvel

    Victims are frequently taught not to trust anyone outside of the establishment, and are often terrified into believing that even if they could escape, they would have nowhere to go.

    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.

    Disney + / Marvel

    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.

    Disney + / Marvel

    And Marvel doesn't shy away from presenting the horrors of trafficking, including human experimentation, that can ultimately lead to death.

    Disney + / Marvel

    It's by far the darkest opening I've ever seen for a Marvel film, but one that I think is absolutely necessary.

    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.

    Disney + / Marvel

    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.

    Disney + / Marvel

    While this scene may be a little insensitive in its handling of the issue, forced sterilization has been used throughout history to control large groups of people, and victims of human trafficking — particularly sex trafficking — are no exception.

    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.

    Disney + / Marvel

    Obviously, a pheromone block is fake, but the symbolism in the loss of control is real. Real-life victims of human trafficking are often subjected to forced drug usage (particularly opioids) so that abusers can manipulate and exploit them.

    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."

    Disney + / Marvel

    Globally, one in every three victims of trafficking is a child. And in lower income countries, children account for half of the trafficked victims. 

    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.

    Disney + / Marvel

    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.

    Marvel Studios / Via giphy.com

    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.

    Everett Collection

    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.

    Marvel Studios / Via giphy.com

    TV and Movies

    Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form