Black Widow: Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh on Yelena Belova and Her Marvel Future

Scarlett Johansson says her Black Widow co-star Florence Pugh has a "really beautiful career ahead of her" as Pugh, a newcomer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, addresses her future as Yelena Belova. Set in-between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame, the mid-quel reveals Natasha Romanoff's (Johansson) Russian family: sister-figure Yelena, Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour), a.k.a. the Red Guardian, and Natasha and Yelena's fellow Red Room-trained super-spy Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz). As the first film of Marvel Studios' Phase 4, Black Widow will springboard Pugh's Yelena into the future of the MCU, including her return in the Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld-starring Hawkeye series on Disney+.

"She has a really beautiful career ahead of her... she's a very special person," Johansson said in the most recent print issue of Total Film. On potentially succeeding Johansson as Marvel's new Black Widow, Pugh said, "Even though that's obviously where everybody wants to go and wants to think about — to think about what's next — this film never really felt like that was what it was trying to underline."

"Their stories intersect," added director Cate Shortland of Natasha and Yelena's histories as assassins trained by Russia's Red Room program. "They crash into each other."

Before Marvel looks to the future of Pugh's character, Black Widow must first look to the past and reveal Natasha's family before the Avengers.

"What Yelena does is to kind of point out Natasha's pain," Pugh explained. "She's part of Natasha's history. And I think that's why we get this opportunity to look into Natasha's history, because Yelena comes knocking, and says, 'Yo, let's deal with this pain.'"

Johansson, who has played Black Widow since Iron Man 2 in 2010, pointed out Pugh's Yelena "stands completely on her own. She's strong and different. She's so different [to] Natasha."

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Starring Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenle, Ray Winstone, William Hurt, and Rachel Weisz, Marvel's Black Widow releases in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access on July 9.

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