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Florence Pugh talks Black Widow: “This film is about the abuse of women. It’s so painful, and it’s so important"

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

When discussing the Marvel movies, we talk about the humour, the action, and the sheer scale of everything happening. Black Widow looks set to change that. The upcoming movie, directed by Cate Shortland, offers a serious look at the severe emotional, physical, psychological abuse and torture of its characters. 

“One of the most interesting things about the film is how far Cate went with it,” Florence Pugh, who plays Yelena Belova, tells Total Film over the phone. “This film is about the abuse of women. It’s about how they get involuntary hysterectomies by the age of eight. It’s about girls who are stolen from around the world. It’s so painful, and it’s so important."

“Part of the excitement for me is that women and girls from around the world are going to see this, and are going to see an abuse story that really was challenged by its own victims. For a Marvel film to be reaching all of those levels, it is so exciting. The best thing about that is, it’s not layered with this colour of grey. You’ll see these women strive and be strong, and they’re assassins – and yet they still need to discuss how they were abused. It’s an incredibly powerful piece.”

For Shortland, Scarlett Johansson's Natasha’s story naturally leant towards these more serious subjects due to the very nature of the character in comparison to the other Avengers. “She’s the only character that doesn’t have superpowers,” she says. “We saw that as a strength, because she always has to dig really deep to get out of shit situations. And we just put her in a lot of hard situations. I thought about women walking to the train station being attacked, and what happens.

“Natasha’s like [Jodie Foster’s Clarice] from The Silence Of The Lambs. It’s great, because when she holds her gun, it shakes. But she’s still really tough inside, and resilient. And I wanted to bring that to the character. So you’re not just watching her fly through situations, knowing she’ll get out of it. You want to see her grit and determination. And that’s what we got.”

Marvel's Black Widow movie.

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel Studios)

Pugh and Shortland – as well as Johansson, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, and O-T Fagbenle – discuss Black Widow at length in the new issue of Total Film magazine, when it hits shelves on this Friday, September 18. You can also see exclusive images from the Marvel Phase 4 movie here. Black Widow is currently scheduled to open in the UK on October 28, and in the US on November 6.

Check out the new covers of Total Film below; the one on the right is on its way to subscribers right now.

If you’re a fan of Total Film magazine, why not subscribe so that you never miss an issue? Sign up via MagazinesDirect, and with our latest offer you’ll get a year's subscription for half price! Plus you'll also get exclusive subscriber-only covers like the Black Widow one that's currently on its way to subscribers right now. (Ts & Cs apply, follow link for full details.)

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(Image credit: Total Film)

I'm the Entertainment Editor over here at GamesRadar+, bringing you all the latest movie and TV news, reviews, and features. I look after all the Total Film and SFX articles that end up on the website