Contains spoilers for “Black Widow”
After years of being part of the Avengers and serving as a supporting character throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) finally gets her time to shine. With the release of “Black Widow,” we see what the international super-spy was up to between the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” and by the looks of it, she had herself a bit of a family reunion.
While she’s on the run after breaking the Sokovia Accords, she rounds up her adoptive sister Yelena (Florence Pugh), adoptive mother Melina (Rachel Weisz), and adoptive father Alexei (David Harbour). They help her uncover a massive conspiracy involving numerous kidnapped and brainwashed women. In other words, it’s just another Tuesday for Natasha.
The character’s come a long way since her cinematic debut in “Iron Man 2” and really grown as a character. “Black Widow” doesn’t overlook her origins either, and the movie has no problem delving into one of the most heart-wrenching aspects of the past.
Black Widow references Natasha’s forced sterilization
In “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Natasha has a serious conversation with Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) about her past, telling him about her time in the Red Room, which involved forced sterilization. Even if she and Bruce could be together, she couldn’t have a child with him. It’s a moment that shows just how much she went through before joining the Avengers, but it’s never really come up until “Black Widow.”
After Natasha and Yelena rescue Alexei, it isn’t exactly a happy reunion. Yelena punches him, and Alexei responds by making a misogynistic joke about “that time of the month.” She responds by explaining how she doesn’t get her period anymore since the Red Room gave her and all of the other Widows forced hysterectomies. She doesn’t hold back on describing the process, as both she and Natasha describe how their captors removed their uteruses and ovaries.
The moment’s played for laughs as the women successfully make Alexei feel uncomfortable, putting him in his place. It also makes the dark truth of the Marvel Universe a bit more palatable, serving as a reminder of just how much was taken away from Natasha. The themes of “Black Widow” deal heavily with women losing agency over their bodies.
Widows can’t have families, and as the audience learns later in the film, General Dreykov alters their physiology so that they won’t be able to attack him. The “Age of Ultron” callback makes those themes all the more depressingly real.