Scarlett Johansson’s 11-year tenure as Black Widow is coming to an end (queue the tears). From that iconic fight scene with the security guards in Iron Man 2, to the her sacrificial death in Avengers Endgame on Vormir, it’s been quite an emotional ride.
Before we call for last curtain, Marvel have treated us to a final appearance in her stand-alone movie Black Widow. Set between the events of Captain America Civil War and Avengers Infinity War, an on-the-run Black Widow (aka Natasha Romanoff) is set to confront her troubled past when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to that past arises, causing her to be pursued by a force intent on taking her down.
The excitement over this movie can’t be described as anything less that palpable. Why? Asked no Marvel fan ever. Well because it feels like we’ve been waiting forever to finally, finally find out what racked-up, dark deeds have caused Romanoff’s famous red ledger to overflow. It may surprise some but this wait precedes all the release-date delays due to the pandemic. In fact it can be traced back to her 2012 Avengers Assemble appearance. You hardcore Marvel-heads remember. That’s when Romanoff revealed that some shady things in her past are not so easily erased. The long-awaited film will not only provide us with the missing piece of the puzzle about her past but also delves into the future of Marvel through new-to-the-MCU character Yelana Belova.
If you’re a bit of a comic buff you may already be familiar with Belova. Like Romanoff, she was trained as child to be a spy and assassin in the Red Room Academy. The character’s debut appearance in Black Widow is set to extend beyond the film. Actress Florence Pugh is due to reprise the role of Belova in the upcoming MCU TV show Hawkeye.
Desperate to find out how she’ll tie into Marvel’s phase 4? We’ve done some digging. Here’s what we know so far.
Romanoff and Belova’s MCU vs Comic Book relationship
Anyone who’s seen the Black Widow trailer will have already caught a glimpse of Belova’s badassory in action. If not, click here. Portrayed as sisters with a strained relationship, Romanoff and Belova band together with their pseudo parents (David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov and Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff) to stop enemy The Taskmaster who now controls the Red Room (not that it was much of a sunshiny place beforehand but apparently now it’s worse?). Though it’s evident that they have a lot of baggage to unpack, the two seem to share a bond that differs from their comic-book rivalry. A rivalry that according to Marvel Fandom sees Belova repeatedly make attempts on Romanoff’s life and occasionally vice versa. The two, who are on opposing sides of the good versus evil camp, eventually become allies but not before enduring a long and arduous journey to get there.
MCU’s Belova, hero or villain?
If we are to go solely based on tidbits of info we can piece together from the trailer, it’s more than probable that Belova has found herself on the side of good in the MCU. Her determination to save students of the Red Room and takedown Taskmaster in the process heavily suggest this. However, we’ve all watched enough trailers to know things aren’t always as they seem. Avenger Nat, expresses deep remorse for not coming back for her sister in the past, implying that she could have saved Belova from further trauma. Is it possible that Belova feels the same way and has been harbouring years of ill feelings towards Romanoff that could see her turn against her sister? This would feed into the fraught nature of their comic book relationship which could possibly lead to a showdown. Of course, this all speculation. Nevertheless, it’s plausible and would add more depth to their already rich storyline. It’s also nearly impossible to consider the latter without wondering if Belova could be working as a double agent for Taskmaster, luring Romanoff into a trap as revenge. Again, speculation but it tugs even harder at their on-paper origin story.
How will Belova feed into Hawkeye?
Judging by her eight-episode stint in Hawkeye (which is in fact only eight-episodes long) it can be assumed that Belova is set to be a major player in the series. If we are to assume that Belova is a villain, then her role in Hawkeye could be more insidious (you know, as opposed to her coming in waving her, ‘I’m evil and proud’ banner). Remember, between the events in Civil War and Avengers Endgame (when Clint Barton – aka Hawkeye – returns) Romanoff and her long-time friend Barton haven’t had much communication. This is down to her initially being on the run, then the end of the world, followed by his detour down the dark, vigilante path after the loss of his family during Thanos’ snap. With the fate of the world resting heavily on their shoulders, it’s possible that there was no time to discuss Romanoff’s long-lost sister, turned villain. This leaves Belova an opening to slip into Barton’s life under the pretence of a grieving sibling. Her potential master plan is still up for discussion so if you have any theories hit us up in the comments below. Could redemption eventually be on the cards? In the comics Belova does assume the Black Widow mantel in homage to fallen sister. Is it possible we could see this play out in the MCU? If so, will Barton be the one to help give Belova the hero-make-over Romanoff went through, through the same grace and understanding he once showed Nat? Let us know your thoughts.
This could, however, pan out entirely differently if Belova turns out to be good from the get-go. In which case maybe she’s popped up in Hawkeye to seek answers for Romanoff’s untimely death. The ‘Hulk snap’ brought most back to life except those who died slightly prior to Thanos’ ‘vanishing snap’ so maybe Belova is hellbent on delving into the circumstances of her death. Does she have an axe to grind with Barton for letting Romanoff die? It’s also possible that their journey see them end up in an emotional place similar to Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson (aka Falcon) in The Falcon and Winter Soldier series. Unlikely friends brought together by the death of a mutual loved one. Since the Hawkeye trailer focuses so heavily on (comic book Young Avenger) Kate Bishop, Barton and their mentor/mentee relationship, it’s unlikely there will be time for such emotional growth between Barton and Belova in just eight episodes. This makes the villain story-line thicken with plausibility but what do you think?
Hawkeye will debut late 2021 and if WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier are anything to go by, is set to be a good watch.