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Black Widow Director: Movie “Hands the Baton” to Florence Pugh. I Give My Thanks to the Gods.

Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova in Black Widow

It seems as if Yelena Belova is going to get her time as the Black Widow—or, at least, that seems to be what Black Widow‘s director is saying, and as someone who loves Yelena Belova and Florence Pugh, I can’t wait to see what the movie holds for her. A character who is depicted a great many ways in the comics (like being obsessed with Natasha Romanoff), Yelena is making her onscreen debut (eventually) in Marvel’s Black Widow, and being able to see her potentially take on the title of Widow is going to be interesting.

In an interview with Empire, director Cate Shortland made it clear that a torch was being passed and a new era of Widow was upon us—and honestly, I’ll take it.

“[Kevin Feige] realised that the audience would expect an origin story so, of course, we went in the opposite direction. And we didn’t know how great Florence Pugh would be. We knew she would be great, but we didn’t know how great. Scarlett is so gracious, like, ‘Oh, I’m handing her the baton.’ So it’s going to propel another female storyline.”

I still think that my theory is going to be correct (meaning that Yelena Belova will, at some point, actually be Natasha Romanoff with a swapped face), but having a new female storyline in the Black Widow world makes the most sense. We don’t know much about Natasha (by design), but we do know about the Red Room and those other women who were there with her. So, propelling another female storyline off of the existing title of Black Widow isn’t that surprising of a decision.

But passing that torch to Pugh and bringing in someone from Natasha’s past? To be honest, I’m not mad about this at all. I love Yelena as a character, and it helps that she’s being brought to life by Florence Pugh. The actress, who quickly rose from indie star to Oscar nominee, is now taking on the world of action films. Still, I don’t necessarily think we’ll be seeing Florence Pugh as Yelena in future Marvel movies. As Natasha? Quite possibly.

As points out, there are plenty of theories out there too that state that Black Widow’s death in Endgame was strange. And sure, the argument can be made that Red Skull, in his Soul Stone guardian form, should have been able to point it out on Vormir if it wasn’t really Natasha but Yelena with Natasha’s face, but still. I like to think that this spy outsmarted the infinite wisdom (or whatever you want to call it) of the Soul Stone. But, either way, the movie does seem to be a sendoff of sorts to Johansson because it will usher in Pugh’s era (or so it seems).

Shortland even went on to explain why Natasha not having a funeral in Avengers: Endgame makes sense for the character:

“In Endgame, the fans were upset that Natasha did not have a funeral. Whereas Scarlett, when I spoke to her about it, said Natasha wouldn’t have wanted a funeral. She’s too private, and anyway, people don’t really know who she is. So what we did in this film was allow the ending to be the grief the individuals felt, rather than a big public outpouring. I think that’s a fitting ending for her.”

Personally, I’m just excited for the next chapter for the Black Widow title. I know that Natasha Romanoff should have had her time right after her introduction in Iron Man 2, but now we’ll get to see Natasha have her moment as she clearly passes on her legacy to Florence Pugh, and I couldn’t be happier.

(via IndieWire, image: Marvel Entertainment)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.