Warning! Spoilers for Hawkeye Episode 4 beyond this point.
... Yelena Belova! Florence Pugh’s Black Widow character made her Hawkeye debut in Episode 4, attempting to get revenge on Clint Barton for murdering her adopted sister Natasha Romanoff (it’s complicated, don’t worry, we’ll explain). If you watched Black Widow all the way through the after-credits scene, this shouldn’t be a huge surprise. But if you missed that movie, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about Yelena (aka the new Black Widow) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Who is Yelena Belova in Marvel? And why is Florence Pugh in the MCU?
Yelena is Natasha’s “sister.” In the MCU, she was part of the “family” that included Natasha, the Red Guardian (David Harbour), and Melina (Rachel Weisz) — but they were actually a Soviet team of spies embedded in the American heartland. After their mission was complete, a young Natasha and Yelena were abducted and trained as assassins in the Red Room. Natasha later escaped with the help of Clint Barton, leaving Yelena behind.
In Black Widow, Natasha and Yelena reunite when Natasha learns that the Red Room is still operational (despite her best efforts to blow it up years earlier). They ultimately succeed, ending the evil program and freeing Black Widows around the world.
In the comics, Yelena has primarily served as an antagonist to the Avengers. But in the MCU, it’s been heavily suggested that she will take over as Natasha’s successor, becoming the new Black Widow whenever the Avengers assemble next.
Why does Yelena want revenge on Hawkeye?
The answer comes back to another new MCU addition: Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, aka Val (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). After first appearing in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, where she recruited U.S. Agent to her shadowy new team, Val returned in the Black Widow post-credits with a mission for Yelena: murder Hawkeye.
Val tells Yelena that Hawkeye is responsible for Natasha’s demise, which is sort of true on a technicality but obviously a total manipulation of the facts. Still, for whatever reason, Val wants Clint out of the picture, and she’s convinced Yelena to do her dirty work for her.
Hopefully, Clint Barton will have a chance to set the record straight in Episode 5. Otherwise, the MCU may need a new Black Widow and a new Hawkeye very soon.
Hawkeye is streaming now on Disney+.