Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff/ Black Widow is finally getting her standalone movie at least five years too late but we’re all screaming. I call it five years late because it is in fact set after the events of Captain America: Civil War which came out in 2016. The film seems to be dealing with the family Romanoff had before she had her Avengers family. We’re about to meet two more Black Widows — sister-figure Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and mother-figure Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) alongside Red Guardian father-figure Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour).
The entire movie is happening because Marvel wants to pass the Black Widow mantle to Florence Pugh’s character Yelena, just as it did with the Captain America mantle in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Marvel is expected to do the same for Hawkeye, Hulk, and Iron Man in the upcoming Disney+ series.
Here are all the characters you should know about to understand and enjoy the Black Widow movie better:
1. Yelena Belova
The character played by Florence Pugh, Yelena Belova stepped into the shoes of Natasha Romanoff soon after she abandoned the US and became the second Black Widow. Getting trained in the same ruthless spy academy, Red Room, Yelena broke the records set by Natasha in the academy. What compelled her to don the mantle of Black Widow? It was the murder of her mentor, Pyotr Vasilievich Starkovsky. Though Yelena calls Natasha “sis” in one of the trailers, the two barely share a sisterly bond in the comics. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out for the two.
2. Melina Vostokoff
According to the comics, Melina and Romanoff don’t get along well. A product of the Soviet spy training program, Melina is an extraordinary assassin, espionage agent, and master combatant. She was so sick of remaining in Romanoff’s shadow that she eventually became her foe. Also known as Iron Maiden, Melina has an elaborated crime history and has even faced off against Captain America. In the movie, her character has a motherly bond with Romanoff.
3. Red Guardian
The origin of the Red Guardian dates back to 1967. In the comics, Alexei Shostakov aka Red Guardian was the husband of Natasha and an ace fighter pilot who was made the Soviet equivalent of Captain America. However, unlike Cap, he ain’t juiced up. Alexei underwent extensive training to sharpen his reflexes, fighting skills, and enhance his strength.
He however won’t be playing the role of Natasha’s husband in the movie and would be more inclined as a father figure to her and Yelena.
The prime antagonist of the film, Taskmaster is one of the many super-villains of Marvel Comics. Anthony “Tony” Masters who fight under the alias Taskmaster, is a wizard of fighting skills. He possesses an unparalleled ability to accurately reproduce the moves of others just by watching them in action. In the comics, he is known to have mastered the fighting techniques of Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Fist, Daredevil, and many others. Fighting him is the equivalent of fighting your own mirror image thus making it next to impossible to defeat.
5. Rick Mason
One of the prominent supporting characters of the film, Rick Mason works for S.H.I.E.L.D. and is often seen executing Nick Fury’s orders. Although born in the family of a villain called Tinkerer, Mason decided to stay clear off the path of crime. In the comics, he’s known to be a specialist in furtive operations. According to our sources, Mason’s MCU avatar could differ form his comic character.
5. Thaddeus Ross
General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross was last sighted standing at Tony’s funeral in Avengers: Endgame. You might even remember him from Captain America: Civil War where he was the US Secretary of State. In the comics, Thaddeus Ross comes from a military background and was an Air Force general. His failed attempts at capturing Hulk led to his creation of Abomination and he himself got transformed into Red Hulk later.
Dreykov is one character of the film who has no apparent background or history of appearing in the comics before. His existence in the MCU was first acknowledged in the Avengers when Loki calls Natasha, Dreykov’s daughter. Dreykov is known to oversee the Red Room program under which Romanoff trained but we’re yet to discover how he’ll be going about in this movie.
Directed by Cate Shortland and produced by Kevin Feige, Black Widow—the opening film of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four hits theatres and Disney+ (Premier Access) on July 9, 2021