Is Florence Pugh’s ‘Black Widow’ Character an Enemy or Ally?

Phase 3 of the MCU has come to a close with Spider-Man: Far From Home and will start Phase 4 with Black Widow. Out of the original six Avengers, Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff is one of three who hasn’t gotten her own film yet. With this new phase, she’ll finally get a solo movie that’ll tell more of her backstory than what fans know. 

With this new story, viewers will get a closer look at the Black Widow program, also known as the Red Room Academy. The movie will also introduce Yelena Belova, played by Florence Pugh. As is the case with many Black Widows, nothing is straightforward about Yelena. Is she an enemy to Natasha? There’s a lot we can learn from interviews with the stars.

Florence Pugh at the ‘Marriage Story’ Los Angeles Premiere | Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Netflix

Florence Pugh plays Yelena Belova, another Black Widow 

Variety announced in March 2019 that Marvel added Pugh onto the movie and star opposite Scarlett Johansson. Pugh takes on the role of Yelena Belova, another agent in the Black Widow program, and equal to Natasha in strength, skill, and knowledge. There’s a lot more to Yelena, just like with Natasha, and she has a spot in the comics as well.

Natasha and Yelena might have a love-hate relationship

Even though Natasha and Yelena trained in the same way from the same academy, they have a love-hate relationship, it seems. Footage shown at San Diego Comic-Con in July showed a violent fight between the two in Budapest. “The women go head-to-head with guns and knives, destroying a lovely mid-century kitchen along the way,” Variety wrote. 

The cast of 'Black Widow' on stage at San Diego Comic-Con.
Florence Pugh, O. T. Fagbenle, Rachel Weisz, and Scarlett Johansson speak at the Marvel Studios Panel during the 2019 San Diego Convention Center | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Pugh described Yelena as a “sister figure to Natasha,” but with “a kind of romantic undercurrent” to it, according to Pugh’s interview with Entertainment Weekly. “At least, I’m kind of into her.” That clip proves there’s some tension between them, but Yelena is not an enemy to Natasha, at least not entirely. 

In an interview with Den of Geek on Oct. 23, Pugh noted that despite their complicated history, they do share that close bond. “They certainly have a sisterly relationship. They share the same pain; they share the same battles; they irritate each other, they love each other; they move in the same way; they certainly play off each other very nicely,” she said. 

Yelena isn’t good in the comics

Just like how Natasha wasn’t always going on missions that were 100 percent on the “good” side, Yelena also has that darker side to her. In the comics, Yelena is even more at odds with Natasha, and the two of them harm each other. One storyline even has Natasha surgically swap faces with Yelena without her consent to teach her a lesson. Everything is downhill from there for the two “sisters.”

But, in the film, Pugh could very well play a version of Yelena that doesn’t steer that close to the dark side.

Pugh is very excited to be a part of the MCU and this specific movie

Pugh is rising fast in Hollywood and already had a massive year with her critically acclaimed horror movie Midsommar and upcoming Little Women remake. She told Den of Geek that filming Black Widow was another “big amazing thing” she was able to do. She also had a blast filming this past summer. 

On top of being a part of the MCU, Pugh was able to do some of her stunts, too. “The coolest thing for me was that they’re so up for you doing as much of it as you want to,” Pugh told Den of Geek. “I knew that I loved all of that stuff from Fighting With My Family, so straight away I got in there and learned from all of these amazing [stuntmen and stuntwomen].”

The Black Widow program churns out a lot of agents, so this movie might only scratch the surface of the spies it’s taught. But Yelena and Natasha are not sworn enemies just yet.