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|“||These world leaders, these great men, they answer to me and my Widows. Look at them. These girls were trash, they are thrown out into the street. I recycle the trash, and I give them purpose. I give them a life.||„|
|~ General Dreykov to Natasha Romanoff on his army of Black Widows.|
|“||It's my network of Widows that help me control the scales of power. One command, the oil and stock markets crumble. One command, and a quarter of the planet will starve. My Widows can start and end wars. They can break and make kings. And with you, an Avenger under my control... I can finally come out of the shadows using the only natural resource that the world has too much of: Girls.||„|
|~ Dreykov to Romanoff on how he uses the Black Widows for his own agenda.|
General Dreykov (Russian: Генерал Дрейков) is a major antagonist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, serving as a mentioned character in The Avengers, the main antagonist of Black Widow and a posthumous antagonist in Hawkeye.
He was a high-ranking officer in the Soviet Armed Forces who acted as the Red Room's overseer and Taskmaster's superior, the latter of whom is also his daughter. He orders Taskmaster to retrieve Natasha Romanoff, best known as Black Widow, back to the Red Room. He is responsible for turning Romanoff into the cold professional killer she used to be prior to joining the Avengers. Because of this, he is the archenemy of Black Widow.
He was portrayed by Ray Winstone, who also played Soldier Sam in the UK version of The Magic Roundabout, Arnold French in The Departed, George McHale in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Ares in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Admiral Orlock in Killzone 3, Bad Bill in Rango and Tubal-Cain in Noah.
Dreykov was an incredibly cruel, ruthless, and intelligent man as well as someone who was incredibly power-hungry, short-tempered, petty, and controlling. Unlike most villains in his position, however, Dreykov was also very pragmatic and strategic, deciding not to go after Natasha for years on end in spite of having the motivation and numerous resources and army of widows under his control to do so, as he knew this would result in him and the Red Room being exposed from hiding.
Although a confident opponent, Dreykov was well aware of his own physical frailty and was pushed to the point of blind fury by Natasha taunting him over it. Due to his lack of strength, he took extreme measures to ensure he couldn't be physically harmed by any of the widows, shown mainly by the use of a nasal pheromone lock that he put into every widow. As soon as Natasha negates the lock by breaking her own nose, Dreykov shows immediate terror and fear, showing that he's nowhere near as tough as he tries to come across as.
Dreykov had an extreme lack of empathy and was a textbook psychopath, only caring for himself and obsessing over total control, and saw the people around him merely as expendable tools, including children, having no sympathy or care for the consequences of his human trafficking, including the lives of the hundreds of young girls he stole to be subjected to the horrors of the Red Room under his watch. His total apathy also extended to those close to him such as Alexei Shostakov, who he deliberately would send out to do missions he disliked before eventually sending him to prison for life for reasons Alexei didn't even know.
The closest thing to empathy Dreykov shows in the entire film happens when he gets the Taskmaster to reveal herself to Natasha as his daughter while talking down to Natasha in disgust over causing her disfigurement in order to kill Dreykov himself. It should be noted, however, that he was still perfectly willing to put his daughter under mind control and force her into being his personal bodyguard and assassin, and had no thought of her at all when trying to make his escape from the exploding base, so this likely wasn't out of care for her.
It could also be interpreted that his fury at Natasha could also be more directed at him feeling that his daughter could have been a more effective soldier without her injuries. When Antonia was finally freed from his control, her first question was if he was gone, making it clear that the fear and hatred she had for her father was far greater than any supposed care he had for her.
Dreykov was a stocky man with very pale skin, striking features, and brown eyes, his hair was also brown although greying and thinning at the top and neatly combed and he had light stubble. He was seen wearing an expensive blue business suit with a matching shirt and black leather shoes, he also wore black thick framed glasses and a coded gold ring with a black jewel on top which acted as a key to help him control the widows.
In 1995, Dreykov looked mostly the same as he did in 2016 however his skin appeared healthier since he had not yet resided himself to the Red Room away from the sun, his hair was fully brown and he had a thick moustache and wore sunglasses as well as a tracksuit which he would later added a black trench coat over the top of during the night.
In 1993, Dreykov sent the only super-powered Soviet hero Red Guardian on an undercover mission to infiltrate the North Institute in Ohio. As part of his cover, Shostakov spend three years living on Ohio lived his "wife" Melina and "daughters" Natasha and Yelena. Although the mission was a success and Shostakov was able to recover the data and bur the North Institute, their cover was blown and the "family" had to flee to Cuba in 1996. Dreykov personally welcomed Shostakov, who delivered to him the mission objective while begging to be sent into the field of action, away from undercover work. Meanwhile, the girls were shipped back to Russia and put into the Red Room Program. At some point Shostakov and Dreykov had a falling out and Dreykov put a former Soviet hero into a Siberian prison for life.
In the 2000s, Natasha Romanoff, who had completed her Red Room training under the supervision of Madame B, was on a mission in Budapest. Clint Barton was send to kill her, but chose to recruit her instead. As part of her defection process, Romanoff sought to kill Dreykov. She used his young daughter Antonia to get to him and ordered Barton to detonate the explosives despite the girl being a collateral. Despite the entire building collapsing and Romanoff believing them both killed, neither of the Dreykovs was dead. The general remained unscathed, but Antonia was severely injured. Dreykov subjected her to extensive experimental enhancements, with a device fitted to the back of her head enabled Antonia to remember and perfectly replicate the fighting styles of others by observing and studying their movements.
The attempt on his life made Dreykov much more secretive: he stopped appearing in public to maintain the illusion of being dead, relocated the Red Room Academy to a mobile facility that eventually went airborn and had all future Widows, including his daughter, subjected to a chemical mind control developed by Melina as opposed to merely a psychological one.
In 2016, an older Natasha from Melina's generation developed an antidote gas that immunized the brain's neuropathways from external manipulation. A group of Widows was send to recover it in Morocco, but Yelena Belova got doused with it and went on the run herself with the antidote. Dreykov deployed his daughter, "Taskmaster", after it. She tracked to package down to Norway and engaged Romanoff, Belova's sister, who was in possession of the antidote and was able to escape.
Determined to bring Dreykov down, Belova and Romanoff teamed up with their "mother" Melina and "father" Alexei Shostakov whom they rescued from the prison. Melina pretended to stay loyal to Dreykov, allowing Taskmaster and the Widows to take them prisoners to the Red Room. Dreykov realized the deception taking place with the Photostatic Veils and revealed to Romanoff that the Taskmaster was in fact his daughter whom Romanoff blamed herself for murdering.
Dreykov send Taskmaster to deal with other saboteurs while occupying himself with Romanoff. After provoking him into hitting her in the face had no effect, Romanoff broke her own nose, counteracting the pheromone block. Meanwhile, Melina blew one of the engines which destabilized the structure, forcing everyone to make a frantic escape. Dreykov was escorted to an aircraft, but Belova risked her life to blow up its engine, causing the entire craft to crash and killing Dreykov in a fiery explosion.
- General Dreykov is a completely original character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He has no comic book counterpart like most of the main characters of Black Widow as well as other Marvel movie characters. Likely, due to constant retcons and the vague nature of who exactly ran the Red Room, Dreykov is meant to serve as a singular amalgamated villain to all of the various named Russian agents such as Alex Sterelny, Grigor Pchelintsov and Ivan Petrovich.
- General Dreykov was originally going to be the first main antagonist in the Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Widow was delayed over a year and premiered after WandaVision debuted in Disney+, making Agatha Harkness the first Phase Four main antagonist. Nevertheless, Dreykov is still the first main antagonist in a Phase Four film.