From the get-go, it’s clear that Black Widow will unearth the history of the Red Room training program, and Pugh’s comments indicate that the film will go deeper in conveying the theme of torture and abuse. The motivations behind recruiting girls to transform into hired assassins were only referenced in a minor way during the first two Avengers films, and it seems that Black Widow is going all-in to drive the point home in terms of addressing the abuse against women in general.
While speaking with Total Film about Black Widow, Yelena Belova star Florence Pugh bared that “the film is about the abuse of women” while also noting that “it’s about girls who are stolen from around the world:”
“One of the most interesting things about the film is how far Cate went with it. This film is about the abuse of women. It’s about how they get involuntary hysterectomies by the age of eight. It’s about girls who are stolen from around the world. It’s so painful, and it’s so important.”
Pugh also expressed her excitement about the fact that “women and girls from around the world are going to see this [Black Widow],” and she admitted that the film is an “incredibly powerful piece:”
“Part of the excitement for me is that women and girls from around the world are going to see this, and are going to see an abuse story that really was challenged by its own victims. For a Marvel film to be reaching all of those levels, it is so exciting. The best thing about that is, it’s not layered with this colour of grey. You’ll see these women strive and be strong, and they’re assassins – and yet they still need to discuss how they were abused. It’s an incredibly powerful piece.”
Black Widow director Cate Shortland also chimed in, mentioning Natasha Romanoff’s lack of superpowers “as a strength” and that the film will “put her in a lot of hard situations:”
“She’s the only character that doesn’t have superpowers…We saw that as a strength, because she always has to dig really deep to get out of shit situations. And we just put her in a lot of hard situations. I thought about women walking to the train station being attacked, and what happens. Natasha’s like [Jodie Foster’s Clarice] from The Silence Of The Lambs. It’s great, because when she holds her gun, it shakes. But she’s still really tough inside, and resilient. And I wanted to bring that to the character. So you’re not just watching her fly through situations, knowing knowing she’ll get out of it. You want to see her grit and determination. And that’s what we got.”