Black Widow might just have the most stacked cast of any solo movie in Marvel Studios history, featuring David Harbour, Florence Pugh, and Rachel Weisz, in addition to Scarlett Johansson, of course. Most of these roles are still a pretty big mystery (apparently Harbour plays Russian Captain America?), but at San Diego Comic-Con last week, Weisz may have spilled one very interesting spoiler about her new character, Melina, and how she connects to the film’s primary villain.
Possible spoilers for Black Widow ahead.
For Marvel comics readers, the news that Weisz would be playing a character named “Melina” may have set off alarm bells. In Black Widow’s world, there is only one Melina: Melina Vostokoff. Also known as Iron Maiden, Melina was part of the Black Widow spy program alongside Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova (played by Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in Black Widow, respectively) and went on to become an antagonist to Natasha.
Weisz couldn’t confirm she was playing Iron Maiden, although she came dangerously close to it while speaking with IGN. During an SDCC red carpet interview with the outlet, Weisz’s comments confirming multiple Black Widows would be introduced in Black Widow also contained hints about Melina’s backstory:
“There are quite a number [of them]. I’m a Black Widow and Scarlett and Florence [are, too]. There are quite a lot of other characters that you meet who are also Black Widows. […] I call tell you that Melina has been cycled through the Black Widow Red Room program by the time the film starts. She started being cycled through when she was a child and so, she’s a highly accomplished spy and assassin. But I can’t tell you her relationship to anyone else.”
If Weisz’s Melina turns out the be the same Melina/Iron Maiden in the comics, then it stands to reason this character will be tied to the other confirmed Black Widow villain: Taskmaster. Two villains working together to take down a Marvel hero is hardly novel in the MCU, so it’s not wild to suspect Melina could work with Taskmaster in an effort to take down Natasha Romanoff in Black Widow.
Turns out, Weisz also toed the line very hard in hinting at how Melina could be involved with Taskmaster in a similarly vague-yet-telling comment in a separate SDCC cast interview. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Weisz mentioned Melina would be “deeply involved in a kind of scientific experiment which I cannot tell you about.” As graduates of the Black Widow Red Room program, both Natasha and Melina were genetically and scientifically enhanced to become top-notch sleeper agents. Melina’s past experiences with experimentation, combined with her deep hatred for Natasha, could drive her to become involved in an experiment which ultimately leads to the creation of Taskmaster.
In the Marvel comics, Taskmaster is created after S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Tony Masters is injected with an experimental version of the Super Soldier serum created by the Nazis. Black Widow could do a bit of retconning with Taskmaster’s creation for the film to make this work. If so, we may see the film replace the Nazis with a team of Soviets looking to create a being capable of taking out a highly-trained operative like Natasha.
All things considered — from Weisz’s vague comments about her character to what we know about Melina and Taskmaster’s arcs in the comics —having the two villains linked together in the Black Widow seems more likely than ever.
Black Widow arrives in theaters May 1, 2020.