Black Widow’s opening credits sequence features a memorable cover of Nirvana’s nineties grunge classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Warning: This article contains Black Widow spoilers.
Black Widow opens in the year 1995, so it’s rather appropriate that the movie’s opening credits feature a cover of a ’90s grunge classic: Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Directed by Cate Shortland, Black Widow is set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, with Natasha Romanoff’s past catching up to her as she once again finds herself on the run from the authorities.
The opening sequence of Black Widow is set during a chapter of Natasha’s unusual childhood when she was being raised by Soviet sleeper agents Milena Shostakov and Alexei Shostakov (a.k.a. Red Guardian) while they were undercover as an all-American family. Having already been subjected to training at the Red Room, Natasha was aware of the true nature of their family, but her 6 year-old adoptive sister Yelena Belova was not.
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As Milena and Alexei’s three-year operation comes to a sudden and violent end, the family flees to Cuba and Natasha and Yelena are taken away from their adoptive parents and split up. 21 years later, they’re reunited and team up to take down the Red Room once and for all.
Malia J Sings Black Widow’s Smells Like Teen Spirit Cover
The cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” that plays over Black Widow‘s opening credits sequence is sung by Hawaiian singer-songwriter Malia J, who actually recorded the cover several years ago. If it sounds familiar, it’s because it was also used in the trailer for the 2015 horror movie The Gallows. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the artist (whose full name is Malia Granite), acknowledged the beloved nature of the original Nirvana track, saying, “I know that it’s sacred ground that I’m walking on” and that her own version was created “out of complete respect.”
Malia J’s cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” plays over a montage that illustrates the brainwashing Natasha and the other Widows underwent during their training in the Red Room, and also alludes to the pivotal role that the Widows have played in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s geopolitical history. Though Natasha Romanoff believed that she’d destroyed the Red Room years ago, as the final test of her defection to S.H.I.E.L.D., in Black Widow she learns that girls are still being trafficked into the program as future trained assassins, and the methods used to control them are even more brutal than before.
Reacting to the release of Black Widow on Twitter, Malia J wrote, “As a woman, I’m so proud to contribute to this groundbreaking film that shines a light on the resilience, vulnerability, power, and strength of women.”
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