VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Andrew Tejada
Is she next in line to join the Avengers? For this video, we're looking at the backstory of the woman who was meant to succeed Black Widow. Our video includes her origins, her fights, a look towards her future, and more!
Origins: Yelena Belova
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re looking at the origins of Yelena Belova.
For this video, we’re looking at the backstory of the woman who was meant to succeed Black Widow.
After Natasha Romanoff left the Red Room Academy and became the heroine known as Black Widow, Yelena entered the program to become another efficient Russian spy. She stood out for earning high marks in many of her training exercises. While the program was tough, she got through it with the help of her trainer and father figure Pyotr Vasilievich Starkovsky. But their close relationship ended tragically when Yelena was told that he’d been assassinated.
When she investigated the crime, she discovered that someone imitating her likeness took Pyotr’s life. Yelena quickly ended the life of the imposter in exchange. Unbeknownst to her, the Red Room executives had secretly set up Pyotr’s demise to test her commitment as their new Black Widow. But they weren’t the only ones who wanted to test Yelena’s resolve.
Once Natasha got a sense that somebody was tracking her, she decided to test them to see what they were made of. She soon discovered that Yelena was on her tail. The two formally met for the first time while they were both on mission on foreign soil. Yelena was quick to insist that she was the superior Black Widow. She even held her predecessor at knifepoint during their first meeting. Despite their violent encounter, Natasha tried to discourage the new Black Widow from following in her footsteps. But words didn’t seem to work.
Natasha decided to take more extreme measures to get Yelena out of the business. In a plan ripped straight out of John Woo’s “Face/Off”, the Avenger swapped faces with the new Black Widow. Natasha then forced Yelena to endure a seemingly endless number of physical and emotional trials. After stopping a villain together while face swapped, they had an honest conversation. Although Yelena wanted to shoot the Avenger for the harrowing experience, she decided not to choose violence. Instead, she got her face back and seemingly retired from being the new Black Widow. Yelena devoted her time to protecting women across the world and helping to provide medical assistance to those in need. She even rescued Natasha. For a while, it looked like she would live a relatively peaceful life.
Unfortunately, Yelena was eventually pulled into a life of violence. While she was on a mission that forced her to fight the Avengers, she was severely burned by a villain. A group of A.I.M. scientists found her in the hospital and asked if she wanted revenge. Yelena agreed and was turned into an Adaptoid, a being that can mimic other people’s powers. She was eventually sent to fight the Avengers again. Despite Yelena’s best efforts, she was defeated when Tony sent a bunch of his Iron Man suits after her at the same time. Her employers seemingly ended her life to prevent her from revealing secrets. Although they secretly kept Yelena in stasis, she still didn’t get a happy ending. She appeared to meet her demise at the hands of the Black Widow she was meant to replace.
Yelena and Natasha's relationship looked complex but much more hopeful in the trailers for the MCU’s “Black Widow” movie. The two women appear to have grown up as unrelated sisters in a family created by their government. Although the two fight and have their differences, they seem to share a bond that goes further than blood. They’ll work together in a mission that aims to put an end to the creation of any future Black Widows. Unfortunately, we know their relationship will eventually end in tragedy because of Natasha’s tragic sacrifice in “Avengers: Endgame.” But the rest of Yelena's story in the MCU is still unwritten.
At the beginning of Yelena’s sad and turbulent history, she believed her life would be spent in service as a ruthless spy for her government. But Natasha showed her that there was more to life than being a spy. Although Yelena traditionally isn't able to live a full and happy life in the comics, she has a second chance in the MCU. We know she’s set to appear in the “Hawkeye” Disney+ series that takes place after she reunites with Natasha. If Yelena wears the mantle of the Black Widow for the show, she’ll hopefully do so of her own free will and as a force for good.