Black widow Don’t flinch when it comes to the more gruesome aspects of Natasha Romanoff’s past. Called up for training in the Red Room, forced to use violence on behalf of Russia, and then her own episode of revenge alongside Clint Barton on the infamous Budapest Mission … it’s all pretty grim. That’s why director Cate Shortland wanted to shoot Black widow into one of the funnier chapters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“We tried to use humor to talk about the trauma,” she tells Polygon. “Most of the victims in this movie actually joke about it for trying to get over it.”
There is no better example of Shortlands approach than a moment in Black widow
Alexi: Why the aggression, right? Is it your time of the month?
Jelena: I don’t understand my period. I don’t have a womb.
Natascha: Or ovaries.
Jelena: This is what happens when you perform an involuntary hysterectomy in the Red Room. You just go in and rip out all of your reproductive organs. They just go in and hack them all away. So you can’t have babies.
Alexi: OK, OK, you don’t have to get so clinical and angry!
Jelena: I was just about to talk about fallopian tubes …
The scene picks up a thread from. on Avangers: Age of Ultron, in which Natahsa tells Bruce Banner in the most serious terms what happens to the young women captured by Dreykov (Ray Winstone).
There’s a graduation ceremony in the Red Room, where I was trained, where I grew up. They sterilize you. It’s efficient. One worry less. The one thing that could be more important than a mission. It makes everything easier. Even kill … You still think you’re the only monster on the team?
According to Shortland, Pugh’s Clapback wasn’t actually in the script for Black widow. In development for years, the story of the final film Jac Schaeffer (WandaVision) and Ned Benson (The disappearance of Eleanor Rigby) with a script by Eric Pearson. After joining Marvel’s screenwriting program in 2010, Pearson wrote one-shots in the early phase 1 days and became a rewrite point for the studio, with a co-writing credit on credit THOR: Ragnarok.
“So Eric, our author, wrote a joke about women being in a bad mood because they were on their period,” recalls Shortland. “And I remember Florence and Scarlett and I reading it and just saying, ‘Oh my god, that’s ridiculous.'”
The director says she cut the joke almost entirely, but after discussing it with her actors, she finally decided to “answer it”. She didn’t clarify whether that meant improvising or going back on traditional recast day, but the result was the final digression on involuntary hysterectomies.
“I love it,” says Shortland. “Because if you make that joke, I’m going to let Florence Pugh loose on you. She will do Yelena to you. It’s one of my favorite moments in the film. “
For more from Shortland, read our full interview. Black widow is in theaters now and on Disney Plus Premier Access.