Rachel Weisz on the Black Widow woman’s gaze

black widow comes to make up for the sexist Marvel movies of the past with its feminist delivery for Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha – and Rachel Weisz is thrilled to make her Marvel debut in this uplifting and redeeming story from a woman’s point of view.

The Oscar-winner stars as Russia’s elite spy and eccentric scientist Melina, mother figure to Natasha Johansson and her younger sister Yelena Florence Pugh, and totally infatuated ‘wife’ Alexie David Harbor.

Known as the Iron Maiden and a chilling villain eager to avenge Black Widow in graphic novels, Melina is more nuanced and diverse in the film adaptation. “Melina isn’t a cliché – she’s ambiguous. You can’t really tell if he has a heart, or he doesn’t really have a heart, he must be layered,” Weisz said. Harper’s Bazaar England.

“I found him really funny on the page because he lacked the sense of humor that can make for a very funny character. He’s pretty flat and he takes things very seriously and he’s pretty serious too.”

melina rachel weisz at black widow marvel studio, in cinema and disney with prime access photo by jay maidment ©marvel studios 2021 all rights reserved

Jay Maid

The action thriller begins with a seemingly happy family unit in suburban Ohio in 1994, giving Natasha a backstory with a beautiful childhood, before she is snatched from him and manipulated into a lethal assassin in a secret Soviet training program known as the Red Room.

Fast forward two decades later, and Natasha is on a mission to confront Red Room supervisor General Dreykov and overthrow his disruptive operation – all the while seeking the allegiance of Alexie and Melina.

Directed by Cate Shortland, Johansson’s standalone swan song attempts to humanize Natasha, give her agency, and eliminate the uncomfortable “hyper-sexualization” that superheroes have endured in the past. Johansson spoke about this recently, lamenting how Iron Man Robert Downey Jr reduced Natasha to “a piece of ass”, “a piece of meat” in the 2010s. Iron Man 2.

Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz in Black Widow

Jay Maid

The epic fight scenes between Natasha and Yelena, or Natasha and her foes, are examples of how female characters are no longer sexualized, as “women’s gazes allow you to feel their subjectivity and personality”, Weisz explains.

“A huge and very impressive battle sequence in which Scarlett [Johansson] and Florence [Pugh] fighting as sisters, when they first met each other in Budapest, I found it exhilarating,” she said. “You made me realize why I like him so much; it’s because they are both subjects, they are not objects. There’s something about the Cate woman’s gaze that lets you feel their subjectivity and personality.

“There’s a feeling that they’re going to kill each other, these women are going to kill each other to survive, and it’s not about objectifying their spectacular beauty and sexiness – that’s not the focus of the scene. the scene is their subjectivity, they are human. They are real people. And how they look – that’s how they look. There is something very different about the subject over the object.”

Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in Black Widow

Marvel / Disney +

When the sickening revelation hits that Natasha and Yelena, along with the other Black Widows, have lost their reproductive organs by accident, it serves as a powerful reminder that some women even today, around the world, still have no productive rights or control. over their own bodies.

Coinciding with Britney Spears’ recent chilling claim that her conservatory is legally forcing her not to use an IUD (also known as an intrauterine device) against her will, the film also contributes to an important public conversation about forced reproduction and how men can control women. by denying them bodily autonomy.

“Yes” [this is the message], Weisz confirmed. “Yeah, and I think director Cate will love everything you have to say, it really and completely emotionally aligns with some of the stories Cate wants to tell. [about women] – freedom versus conquest, personal choice and free will versus being in a literal or figurative chain. Yes yes yes yes.”

melina rachel weisz at the marvel studio black widow, in cinema and disney with prime access photos courtesy of marvel studios © marvel studios 2021 all rights reserved

Marvel Studios

While it has been rumored by some Marvel fans that Melina could rival Natasha, and could compete with her in an attempt to destroy her, in the end the women banded together to take down the patriarchal villain, in keeping with the film’s theme of female solidarity.

“I love to have the feeling of being brave and bringing down patriarchy,” Weisz added. “It’s tricky for my character because he’s totally in love with Alexie, who’s part patriarchy, and a silly part of patriarchy! [But] To me, the story doesn’t feel that way; it’s about reuniting with the girls who are now women. It’s about celebrating brotherhood.”

Black Widow is in theaters now, or available to order on Disney+ with Premier Access.

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