Natasha Romanoff’s backstory is among the most tragic in the MCU, and the man responsible for it is as vile as Marvel villains get. Dreykov (Ray Winstone) may look like an unassuming, elderly bureaucrat with a penchant for Bond villain-style plots, but no amount of flying fortresses and power trips takes away the fact that he’s an evil, abusive man who has spent decades stealing young girls away from the world, and brainwashing them into subservience.
The climax of “Black Widow” finally shows Natasha facing off with her tormentor, only to discover that the predatory Dreykov has a scent-triggered failsafe that stops Natasha from hurting him in any way. The scene is rife with abuse-themed subtext, from Natasha’s helplessness and Dreykov’s patronizing demeanor to the little “back of the hand” fakeout he pulls on her, implying that this wouldn’t be the first time. And that’s before the actual violence begins.
Both characters harbor a solid grudge against each other, and their meeting reminds you of the dynamics between Jessica Jones (Kristen Ritter) and Dreykov’s fellow mind-controlling slimeball Kilgrave (David Tennant) in Netflix’s “Jessica Jones,” made all the more unnerving because it falls in the middle of a cavalcade of high-octane action pieces. Fortunately, Black Widow soon reclaims control of the situation by disabling her sense of smell in a characteristically amazing way, and the tables turn for good. Ultimately, Dreykov’s fate in the ensuing action frenzy is almost an afterthought, as befits a small man who has lived his life by making others do his bidding.
If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.