Despite the fact that Black Widow’s outfit in Avengers: Infinity War has a deeper significance that will be revealed in her standalone movie in 2021, Marvel executive Andy Park claims that this wasn’t preplanned. The Infinity Saga’s first installment, Avengers: Infinity War, which was published in 2018 and had been established since Phase 1 of the MCU, served as its conclusion. The following year, the main cast would come back in Avengers: Endgame, with Black Widow ultimately giving her life to stop Thanos. However, Johansson’s character would later make a comeback in the prequel Black Widow, where she teamed up with her sister Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh).
Natasha’s outfit from Avengers: Infinity War was retroactively given more significance in Black Widow, according to Park, Marvel’s Director of Visual Development, in the recently released Marvel’s Black Widow: The Art of the Movie (via The Direct). According to Park, it was decided that Yelena would don Black Widow’s black tactical vest during the film’s development, proving that Natasha really did inherit the item from her sister and giving it greater significance. The Easter egg’s explanation from Park is provided below.
“Working on ‘Black Widow’, we retroactively gave that vest meaning — that it’s actually Yelena’s vest. If you ever watch Infinity War again, your eyes will get watery because Natasha’s wearing her sister’s vest, and there’s love in there. That’s what we do as concept artists, because we’re all storytellers.”
“When I first designed Natasha in ‘Infinity War’, the Russo brothers didn’t want her to have a whole new suit. They wanted to take her existing suit from Captain America: Civil War and add something to it. When I came up with the tactical vest, they liked that idea, so that’s what stuck.”
“Her look has stayed fairly similar in her various appearances, so a lot of it is playing with details — different lines and materials … I did versions where she’s just wearing a jacket and other types of everyday clothing, and that’s where I started to think that incorporating the vest we see in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ might be a good idea.”
“With Yelena’s snowsuit design, I did a lot of versions. I had played with incorporating the vest from Avengers: Infinity War into Natasha’s design, but I had the idea that, maybe, what if it’s Yelena’s vest? I presented that idea and the designs I was playing with, and it worked really well with the white suit. And, of course, the vest became a thing.”
What Happens To Yelena Next In The MCU?
In many ways, Phase 4 of the MCU has focused heavily on passing the baton from an older generation of protagonists to a younger generation. Ironheart (Dominique Thorne) serves as the MCU’s Iron Man replacement, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) has been set up as Hawkeye’s (Jeremy Renner) protégé, and Yelena is essentially the new Black Widow. Yelena also made an appearance as an antagonist in Hawkeye in 2021 in addition to her role as Black Widow, but she hasn’t been a part of the MCU since. But as Phase 5 films roll out, one in particular, Pugh’s antihero is expected to take on a much bigger role.
Yelena will join a group of Marvel’s most fearsome antiheroes in Thunderbolts, which is scheduled to be released in the summer of 2019. These characters include the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Red Guardian (David Harbour), U.S. Agent/John Walker (Wyatt Russell), Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko), and Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine will serve as the team captain (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Thunderbolts is still in the planning stages, but production is anticipated to begin in the first half of 2023. Yelena’s future in the MCU is less certain outside of her role in Thunderbolts.
Yelena will most likely make an appearance in one or both of the forthcoming Avengers films as the new Black Widow. While plot details for the movies are still being kept under wraps, it appears that the titular team of heroes will need Yelena’s special set of abilities in order to fight Jonathan Major’s Kang as well as any villains that will be thrown into the mix in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars, both of which are scheduled for release in 2025 and 2026, respectively. While Johansson’s Black Widow continues to be a highlight of the earlier MCU era, Pugh’s Yelena and whatever adventures are in store for her will in many ways carry on the legacy of the character.
Source: Marvel’s Black Widow: The Art of the Movie (via The Direct)