Every real-world Black Widow politician Villain Dreykov has influenced the MCU
Black Widow villain Dreykov influenced many politicians, including US presidents, who featured in the film’s opening credits sequence.
Black WidowThe opening credits feature several real-world politicians with the film’s fictional villain, General Dreykov (Ray Winstone). In the heart-wrenching sequence of Malia J’s haunting cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Drekykov watches as his soldiers kidnap young girls, including 11-year-old Natasha Romanoff (Ever Anderson) and her six-year-old adopted sister. Yelena Belova (Violet McGraw) to transport them to her top-secret Red Room where they are ultimately brainwashed psychologically and trained as deadly assassins, known as Widows. Later in the edit, Dreykov appears edited in photographs of current and former world leaders, highlighted by a red circle surrounding his face.
Directed by Cate Shortland, Natasha Romanoff’s (Scarlett Johansson) long-awaited first solo film takes place between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War and focus on the above Avenger’s reunion with the surrogate family by whom she was raised in Ohio from an early age until she and Yelena were abandoned in the Red Room. In Black Widow, Natasha reunites with Yelena (Florence Pugh) and her “parents” Alexei Shostakov aka Red Guardian (David Harbor), and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), to conclude her unfinished business of freeing widows and definitively defeating Dreykov’s Red Room.
In Black WidowIn the opening title sequence, Dreykov’s footage with real politicians helps characterize the Black Widow villain as a self-centered misogynist from the start through the company he keeps. This relevant part of the film highlights how Dreykov’s sinister character obviously derives from real-world figures such as the former film producer and convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein and former financier and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who often fraternized with well-known public figures at the height of their crimes. The performances also reinforce the idea that the most powerful people in the world are all complicit in the maintenance of a patriarchal society that objective and attacks women. As Dreykov tells Natasha during their confrontation at the Red Room in Black Widowthe third act of, “These world leaders, these great men, they answer for me and my widows” –a statement that further illustrates Dreykov’s manipulation and intimidation of high-ranking politicians that allowed his Red Room to thrive for over 80 years. Here are all the politicians Dreykov influenced in MCU canon, according to Black Widowopening credits.
Dreykov is first pictured alongside the 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, in Black Widowthe introduction, implying that the two characters met during Carter’s tenure in the White House from 1977 to 1981. Carter’s inclusion is particularly interesting given the turbulent relations between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Carter’s presidency. Prior to his appointment as head of the Red Room, Dreykov served as a high-ranking officer in the Soviet armed forces. By juxtaposing the couple next to each other, Black Widow demonstrates the extent of Dreykov’s manipulative abilities in that he could even make his enemies smile.
42nd US President Bill Clinton is the second former US Commander-in-Chief to appear with Dreykov in Black Widowopening credits. The association between the two is fitting, given Clinton’s complicated history with women. The former president has racked up four public allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Besides, Clinton had an affair with then-22-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky who will be central to Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story: Impeachment. In the case of Dreykov, Black Widow reveals the red room overseer’s horrific abuse of young girls, which includes involuntary sterilization and certain death for those deemed too weak. While the actions of Clinton and Dreykov are far from equivalent, they are both a testament to the long-standing gender imbalance of power that still prevails today.
As the first president of Russia, from 1991 to 1999, Boris Yeltsin is an obvious choice to align himself with Dreykov. Their coordination within the MCU, as with other political figures, was likely initiated by Dreykov with the aim of influencing the most powerful individuals close to his business. As a result, Dreykov’s elevated connections eventually allowed him to shift from using psychological conditioning to mind-control technology as a means of subjugating widows. Caring for world leaders, especially the Russians, also helped Dreykov keep his Operation of the red room under the envelopes. Dreykov’s military history likely earned him a good reputation among Russian elites, forcing politicians to naturally view him as an ally.
Former President George W. Bush’s National Security Advisor, and later Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is shown meeting with Dreykov in Black Widowthe editing of the opening credits. During the Bush administration from 2002 to 2008, Rice engaged with foreign leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the context of the MCU, it makes sense for Dreykov to come into contact with Rice due to his role in the US government and frequent US-Russian contact during this time. Rice also stands out as the only woman depicted next to Dreykov in the photo series, which makes the general’s convergence with the U.S. foreign policy chief particularly interesting, given Dreykov’s irremediable violent misogyny towards women and girls – which he describes as “waste” and “the only natural resource the world has too much of.”
Putin, Yeltsin’s successor to the Russian presidency, is the last real-world politician featured in Black Widowopening credits. The collaboration between Dreykov and the current Russian leader comes as no surprise, given the couple’s common national origin, as well as their known misogynistic views on women. Putin, who initially held Russia’s top office from 1999 to 2008, and was re-elected in 2012, has a history of sexist remarks and notably signed a law decriminalizing domestic violence in 2017, which contributed to the application of traditional gender roles and stereotypes in the Eastern European nation. Although Russia has seen an increase in women’s participation in politics under Putin’s leadership, it has yet to make progress on gender equality. The way the two Dreykov in the MCU and Putin in the real world have historically exploited women for the benefit of their own power provides a chillingly accurate portrayal of the connection between the inherent misogyny of society, highlighting one of the Black Widowthe most striking themes.
Next: Who Are Black Widow’s Real Parents?
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