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Yelena Belova Is Leading the Thunderbolts in a Message from Florence Pugh at D23

Marvel's Yelena Belova looking up from a cooking pot, surprised.

The leader of the Thunderbolts is here and her name is Yelena Belova! Florence Pugh couldn’t be at D23 due to her filming schedule for Dune: Part II, but she popped into the celebration to tell us that Yelena is going to be the leader of the Thunderbolts in the upcoming film! Yes, that does peak my interest for the upcoming movie tenfold.

Yelena, who first made her appearance in Black Widow, is the sister of Natasha Romanoff and a former member of the Black Widows. We last saw her working with Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who sent her on a revenge mission to kill Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Yelena next appeared in Hawkeye, where she befriended Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and made peace with Hawkeye after realizing that he loved Natasha just as much as she did. Now, Yelena is on her own, operating on her own terms. Pugh sent a video message that was played on the big screen as Kevin Feige, director Jake Schreier (Kidding, Lodge 49), and her castmates watched on.

Who else is in the Thunderbolts?

Yelena will be leading a team of anti-heroes including U.S. Agent John Walker (Wyatt Russell), Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko), Red Guardian (David Harbour), the Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis Dreyfu), Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), and Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen).

I don’t think that this is going to be a brief stint for Pugh in the MCU either. With the departure of Scarlett Johannson’s Natasha, it does seem as if the Black Widow role is going to fall to Yelena and I’m excited about that! I still do want to see a series of Yelena searching the world for the Widows, which was set up at the end of Black Widow, but until then, I will gladly watch Yelena lead the Thunderbolts because she deserves it.

Thunderbolts hits theaters on July 26, 2024.

(featured 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.