Each superhero has its own extended line-up, and Marvel Studios’ first Black Widow trailer gave Natasha Romanovs a first glimpse into the world. David Harbour’s Red Guardian was prominently featured in his red-and-gray costume, but there was another superhero who hid when dictated to him: Yelena Belova.
Yelena, played by Florence Pugh, is a character with a long history in Marvel comics, which also includes taking over the Black Widow’s coat not once, but twice from Natasha Romanoff.
Jelena, right, left Natasha. J.G. Jones / Marvel Comics
Who is Yelena Belova of Black Widow?
Yelena was created by the writer Devin Grayson and the artist J.G. Jones and her first starring role was in the 199 solo mini-series by Black Widow. Yelena saw herself as the true successor to the name of the Black Widow, who in her view had given up as a loyal agent the moment she turned away to work with the Avengers. So Yelena set about regaining the title for Mother Russia and for the Red Room.
What is the red space?
Like most real countries that appear in the Marvel Universe, the comic version of Russia is … different.
In Marvel Comics, the Red Room is the most notorious espionage school in Soviet Russia. There, Russian officials turn young girls into elite spies through a mixture of spy training, biochemical interference, and manipulation of their memories. Many of the Red Widow’s Red Widow candidates, including Natasha, have evoked memories of dancer training for the Russian Ballet.
Before she could overflow, Natasha had to resist all this psychological conditioning. When Yelena showed up to fill her Soviet boots, Natasha helped her see how little her government appreciated the little Red Room girls. At the end of her first story, Yelena retreats to Cuba.
But in comic universes, very few characters stay on the bench forever. Yelena intervened in SHIELD, became an over-the-top villain, made it to the AIM High Council, and continued her good work as a Black Widow by murdering Hydra officials.
Marvel Studios has no plans for a sequel to Black Widow
This one movie seems to be Scarlett Johansson’s swan song for the character. But with Florence Pugh playing Yelena Belova, Natasha’s “sister” from the Red Widow in Black Widow, they have one … what is a real Russian way of saying that?
They have a Chekov’s Black Widow, prepared and ready to go.