Black Widow May Have Introduced the MCU’s Most Powerful Weapon
Black Widow arrived this weekend, debuting both in theaters and on Disney+ Premiere Access, not only giving fans their first Marvel movie in two years but also finally giving Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) her long-anticipated solo film. But while the film was set in the MCU’s past – specifically between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War – it also set the stage for future stories and may have introduced the MCU’s most powerful weapon yet.
Warning: full spoilers for Black Widow beyond this point. If you haven’t seen the film, you might want to proceed with caution.
Despite believing that she had ended the Red Room years before by killing Dreykov as part of her defection to S.H.I.E.L.D., Natasha discovers that Dreykov survived and with him, the Red Room which then employed new methods to ensure that future Black Widows were unable to defect the way Natasha had. That method? A form of chemical mind control. Audiences are introduced to it relatively early in the film when Black Widow Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) is on a mission to kill a rogue former Black Widow but is exposed to an antidote by the dying woman, freeing her from mind control. The rest of the film sees Natasha and Yelena – who had grown up as sisters in their early years on a mission for the Soviet Union – determined to not only take down Dreykov and the Red Room for good this time, but also free the other Widows.
Mind control in general isn’t a new concept within the MCU. A primary example of that is Bucky Barnes and to a lesser extent, Natasha herself, who were both controlled through cognitive conditioning and brainwashing of sorts and turned into weapons for those who controlled them. Ultimately, both Bucky and Natasha broke free. What makes the mind control introduced in Black Widow potentially the most powerful weapon introduced into the MCU thus far is that it’s chemical meaning that it could be administered to anyone, presumably very easily or even undetectably. While the specific mechanics of how it’s administered, and the entire process sounds brutal with Yelena mentions that not all of the girls subjected to training survive, it’s terrifyingly effective. Melina (Rachel Weisz), who created the protocol, demonstrates how precise the control is in a disturbing scene in which she commands a pig to stop breathing. And Natasha has seen for herself how effective the mind control is in people when she witnessed one of the Widows forced to kill herself even as she tells Natasha that “he” is making her do this and that she doesn’t want to.
While Black Widow concludes with Dreykov’s demise – confirmed this time on screen – and a vial of the counteragent being given to Yelena so that Melina can create more and free the other Widows, the technology for the chemical mind control arguably still exists. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to consider that someone else could come along behind Dreykov and try again. After all, Melina reveals that the research to create the mind control was made possible thanks to HYDRA (as infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. at that time). Who is to say it couldn’t end up in the wrong hands and used on a much larger scale in the future?
Black Widow is now available in theaters and exclusively on Disney+ Premier Access. If you haven’t signed up for Disney+ yet, you can try it out here.
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