The MCU"s Black Widow Replacement Can Finally Copy What First Made The Character Great After 12 Years Of Disappointment

  • Yelena Belova is set to continue the Black Widow legacy, possibly bringing back key elements of Natasha Romanoff.
  • Black Widow's spy skills were underutilized in the MCU, with only The Avengers showcasing her full talents.
  • Yelena in Marvel's Thunderbolts could revive Black Widow's spy side, exploring her comic book skills.
Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova is ready to continue the Black Widow legacy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the character could be used to bring back some key elements of Natasha Romanoff that have been missing from the franchise for over a decade. Scarlett Johansson debuted as Natasha, aka Black Widow, in 2010's Iron Man 2. The character has since appeared in all four Avengers movies so far, with Johansson even getting the chance to star in the MCU's Black Widow movie, which finally gave the only female member of the original Avengers team a solo film.
Black Widow did a lot of heavy lifting for Natasha Romanoff's backstory. The character's tragic past in the Red Room was better explained, with the reveal that Nat also had a loving family behind her, as she formed deep bonds with Pugh's Yelena Belova, David Harbour's Red Guardian, and Rachel Weisz's Melina Vostokoff. After Natasha died in 2019's Avengers: Endgame, Pugh's Yelena Belova is set to continue her legacy in Marvel's slate of movies, with her next appearance coming in 2025's Thunderbolts, and that could finally serve to bring key Black Widow skills back.
Related Why Did Scarlett Johansson Leave Marvel? Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff has always been a key MCU character, but the Black Widow star's time in the franchise has come to an end. The Avengers Is The Only Movie To Showcase Black Widow's Strongest Talents Natasha Romanoff's Spy Skills Were Hardly Shown In The MCU Black Widow often displayed her acrobatic skills, her hand-to-hand prowess, her control over weapons, and her "Widow's Bite" gauntlets. However, a major feature of the character in the comics was barely used by the MCU, and that is Black Widow's espionage talents. While Black Widow and Hawkeye are the only members of the Avengers without any real powers — Iron Man's armors cover for him in that regard — the duo each had to find their way into being valuable members of the team, with Hawkeye's impressive accuracy being his and Black Widow's spy skills being hers.
While the character is known for excelling in covert missions, only 2012's The Avengers really showed the full scope of Black Widow's talents. The character's first scene in the movie was an amazing showcase of her strengths. Natasha talked to Nick Fury while being tied to a chair during an interrogation — which was all part of her plan — and quickly broke free after getting all the information she needed. Later, Black Widow showed her subversion skills as she tricked Loki into revealing his plans for the Hulk by faking a breakdown and pretending to open up to him.
Even in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is the MCU's standout political thriller and had Black Widow and Captain America on the run, the character barely used her spy skills. Instead, Natasha acted in the movie more like a standard S.H.I.E.L.D. agent than the superstar spy she is. While the character was one of the best aspects of the film, the moments where she was able to really lean into her talents showed the potential for good that a full-on exploration of that side of her would have had for the MCU.
Yelena Belova Can Make Black Widow A Spy Again Marvel's Thunderbolts Is Perfect For That To Happen Close Natasha Romanoff's time in the MCU has come to an end. However, that does not mean that the full potential of a Black Widow that actually goes on missions doing what she does best will never be achieved. Pugh's Yelena Belova is the natural successor to take on the Black Widow mantle in the MCU. Not only was she trained by the Red Room, Yelena also grew up as Natasha's younger sister, making her the perfect candidate to bring the full scope of Black Widow's comic book skills to life in the MCU.
Yelena can showcase her infiltration, interrogation, and other covert skills in her upcoming MCU movie: Thunderbolts. The character will be one of the main members of the team, given how Yelena was presented prominently in the official art reveal of the team roster and that Pugh was chosen to share the first Thunderbolts set video in costume as Yelena Belova. As a team of anti-heroes assembled by Valentina Allegra de Fontaine — a shadowy figure of power — Thunderbolts should follow the team on one or more covert missions, which will give plenty of chances for Yelena's spy skills to come out.
Related Marvel's Thunderbolts: Cast, Release Date & Everything We Know With an MCU Thunderbolts movie officially in development, here's everything that's known so far including potential cast, story, & release date. Why The MCU Stopped Focusing On Black Widow's Strengths A Few Reasons Contributed To Natasha's Spy Skills Falling Through As Black Widow cemented her status as an Avenger and even aired out her past in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it became increasingly harder to add espionage stories for her. The fact that the Black Widow movie came in so late in the MCU's release timeline also added to the situation, because if the film had happened around 2012's The Avengers, Black Widow's spy kills would undoubtedly have been put on display more than they were in the finished movie and the MCU as a whole.
Black Widow PG-13 Where to Watch *Availability in US
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Director Cate Shortland Release Date July 9, 2021 Cast Scarlett Johansson , Florence Pugh , David Harbour , O-T Fagbenle , Olga Kurylenko , William Hurt , Ray Winstone , Rachel Weisz Marvel's Thunderbolts Not Yet Rated
Director Jake Schreier Release Date May 2, 2025 Cast Sebastian Stan , Wyatt Russell , Julia Louis-Dreyfus , Tim Roth , Daniel Brühl , Florence Pugh , David Harbour , Olga Kurylenko , Harrison Ford The Avengers PG-13 Where to Watch *Availability in US
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Director Joss Whedon Release Date May 4, 2012 Cast Chris Hemsworth , Mark Ruffalo , Robert Downey Jr. , Scarlett Johansson , Samuel L. Jackson , Stellan Skarsgård , Clark Gregg , Paul Bettany , Cobie Smulders , Tom Hiddleston , Jeremy Renner , gwyneth paltrow , Chris Evans


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