The chilling opening credits sequence to Black Widow implicate the MCU’s versions of real-world politicians in the Red Room’s horrors.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Marvel’s Black Widow, now playing in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access.
Black Widow is the darkest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date, and perhaps its darkest sequence is the opening credits, set to Malia J’s cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” With Natasha and her little sister Yelena given away by their surrogate family to the Red Room, the credits sequence is a montage of the tragedy the girls faced in their training and brainwashing. The gritty style is more like something out of a horror movie or a true-crime documentary than anything else in the MCU — and in a rather daring move, it implicates the MCU’s versions of real-world politicians as being complicit in the horrors on display.
The credits sequence includes photographs of the Red Room’s villainous leader, Dreykov, meeting with various world leaders in the 1990s and 2000s. While some faces are blocked out, several are clearly recognizable, including United States President Bill Clinton, George W. Bush’s National Security Ambassador and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Though S.H.I.E.L.D. had classified Dreykov as an enemy by the time Natasha defected from the Red Room, at some point in history, all of the politicians in this opening montage were on good enough terms with him to partake in photo ops. The implication is that they either ignored the evidence of Dreykov’s extensive human trafficking network or they were actively complicit in it to some extent.
Aside from the questionably canonical Netflix and Hulu shows, the MCU hardly ever references real-world politicians. Storylines dealing with political corruption have always involved fictional leaders, such as the murderous Vice President Rodriguez in Iron Man 3 or the Hydra-aligned Secretary of Defense Alexander Pierce in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Many MCU films try to tread carefully when it comes to politics, in part because they’ve partnered with the U.S. military on multiple movies. Since the U.S. military is not featured prominently in Black Widow, perhaps Cate Shortland’s film had more leniency to push political buttons.
It must be said that Black Widow is a work of fiction and the individuals’ depictions in the opening credits can’t be taken as a direct comment on their real-life equivalents. However, the presentation of a human trafficking villain in the presence of so many notable politicians thematically evokes memories of Jeffrey Epstein’s many high-profile connections, along with the various related rumors and conspiracy theories. It’s not exactly something one typically expects to find in a Marvel movie.
Directed by Cate Shortland, Black Widow stars Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian, O-T Fagbenle as Mason and Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff. The film is now playing in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access.
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