Yelena Belova (Black Widow)

The first trailer for Black Widow has been released, and it looks quite good. It features all the new main characters, and we’re going to see them all, as usual alternating them with those appeared in the tv shows airing these days. Let’s start with the one Natasha Romanov calls “sis” after a rough meeting: Yelena Belova, portrayed by Florence Pugh. In the movie, she’ll be another “graduate” from the Red Room, and the main ally to Nat… but in the comics, the two have been sworn enemies as well as good allies, so it remains to be seen whether her allegiance will remain the same throughout the entire movie. Let’s take a look.

Born in Kiev, Ukraine, Yelena Belova was orphaned when she was little, taken in by government forces, and delivered to the care of the Red Room, the facility that trained and conditioned Russia‘s greatest spies. Yelena became formidable under the care of her mentor, Lt. Colonel Pyotr Starkovsky, but all her successes were shadowed by the records still held by her predecessor, Natalia Romanova, the super-spy better known as the Black Widow. Yelena’s goal soon became that of surpassing Romanova, something she committed herself with all her energy and passion… but she always got second. Despite always demanding more from herself, Yelena was deployed on the field when Starkovsky got murdered into a sadomasochistic sex club, and General Tischenko chose to employ her to solve the crime. Her investigations brought Yelena to identify and kill Petra, a prostitute that Starkovsky had been paying to look like her during their sessions, and after the mission she finally overcame all her insecurities and her inferiority complexes that prevented her from surpassing Romanova. Little she knew that everything had been staged by Tischenko, and that her mentor’s murder and everything revolving around it were part of a plan to make her blossom as the new Black Widow. Finally self-confident and terribly proud of the title she had finally earned, the new Black Widow volunteered for a series of dangerous missions, hoping to finally confront her predecessor, who had betrayed the USSR years before to join the Avengers in America, directly. When the original Black Widow was employed by both the American and the Russian Governments to retrieve the Deathless Frenzy Serum, a bio-weapon that made whoever injected with it enter a dangerous, blind rage, Yelena volunteered to follow her, and to make sure that, once retrieved, the Serum went to Russia. Following his own agenda as well as willing to test his pupil, trainer Yuri Stalyenko agreed to send her after Romanova.

The mission didn’t go exactly as Yelena planned: she succeeded in preventing Romanova to retrieve the Serum, and in the battle the original Black Widow got apparently killed, but the Deathless Frenzy was taken by Colonel Khan, a warlord from Rhapastan, who wanted to use it on his soldiers to overpower both Russia and America. Yelena tried to take on Khan and destroy the Deathless Frenzy in his possession, but she got captured… and, as an ulterior reason for shame, she was saved by Romanova, alive and well, who managed to destroy the Serum and to stop Khan’s megalomaniac plan. As she came back home, defeated and humiliated, Yelena was kidnapped by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and her face was surgically swapped with Natasha’s one in a plan by Nick Fury to uncover whatever Stalyenko was up to. While Romanova was in Russia donning her face, Yelena almost lost her mind wandering for New York City with her rival’s face on: when the original Black Widow came back, she told her that this traumatic experience was supposed to be a lesson for her, to cure her from her romantic view on spies and on the Black Widow Ops Program, as spies were nothing but tools for dirty jobs that governments used and discharged at their pleasure. Yelena, however, didn’t feel wiser after the experience: violated, manipulated, almost raped, but definitely not wiser. It took a while to her to realize that Black Widow was right, and she read all her life seeing she had indeed been used as a tool in someone else’s agenda. She left the spy world, she became an entrepreneur, living in Havana, Cuba, and working first as a lingerie model, than as the owner of a small lingerie empire, managing also some porn channels in Russia and a program for the safety of sex workers in Cuba. A woman with her talents, however, couldn’t remain a civilian for long: after helping Black Widow and Daredevil escape Guantanamo Bay, Yelena was contacted by S.H.I.E.L.D., who needed the new Black Widow for leading an illegal mining operation in the Savage Land. She accepted, of course: after all, old habits really died hard.

Yelena Belova was raised as an immoral and cruel spy, but unlike other adepts of the Black Widow Program, she wasn’t brainwashed, and she retained her free will and her individuality… something that turned out to be a grave mistake from her bosses. As the new Black Widow, she is a master martial artist, expert in espionage, black ops and stealth action, she speaks several languages fluently, she’s highly intelligent and a formidable athlete, and she’s able to use a variety of weapons, both blades and firearms; she also has several spy gadgets at her disposal, the most reliable of which being her Widow’s Bite, bracelets with dart launchers, electricity emitters and other tools hidden in them. Gone from terribly hostile against her rival and in love with her program to grudgingly grateful towards her and disillusioned with the spy world, Black Widow is the result of a perfect training and a flawed psychological conditioning: her free will and her sense of individuality are her greatest weaknesses and he greatest strengths, and bring her to either embrace or deny the cruelty she’s been taught depending on her state of mind… definitely too unpredictable not to be considered dangerous.

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