Florence Pugh first made her MCU debut in 2021’s Black Widow, portraying Yelena Belova – who is Natasha Romanoff’s sister. The actress had a memorable performance in the Phase 4 movie, earning positive reception from fans and critics.
After her impressive stint on the big screen, Pugh’s Yelena made a triumphant return in the Hawkeye Disney+ series alongside Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton and Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop. Yelena had a significant role in the Marvel series, with the character managing to find some closure for Romanoff’s death.
As the MCU heads to its next slate of projects, it seems that a new report has revealed where Yelena could show up next.
Florence Pugh’s Next Major MCU Appearance Revealed
In the latest episode of Matthew Belloni’s The Town podcast, Deadline’s Justin Kroll revealed that Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova is set to lead the MCU’s Thunderbolts.
During the podcast, Kroll first described Thunderbolts as “basically Marvel’s Suicide Squad,” while also sharing that Yelena will lead a team that consists of Wyatt Russell’s John Walker and Daniel Brühl’s Zemo.
The Deadline reporter also implied that Thunderbolts is Yelena’s “spin-off,” indicating that Pugh is the main star of the movie:
“[Florence Pugh] has got the Marvel superhero that’s already got a spin-off. Upcoming for her, actually, on that character is this Thunderbolts film, which is basically Marvel’s Suicide Squad. Hopefully, it has better results. But the concept is it’d be her leading the team of like Wyatt Russell’s [John Walker], Daniel Bruhl’s [Zemo], those anti-heroes that aren’t exactly good but aren’t exactly bad. So there’s that. And people seem to like the Yelena character.”
Why Yelena is The Perfect Thunderbolts Leader
The inclusion of Florence Pugh’s Yelena in Thunderbolts isn’t surprising, but the character’s role as a leader might be unexpected for some fans. In fact, there is actually a comic precedent (sort of) for the character serving as the leader of the “reformed” villain group.
In Marvel Comics, Norman Osborn approached Yelena to become the field leader of the Thunderbolts after the Skrull Invasion. Although this Yelena was later revealed to actually be Natasha Romanoff in disguise, the studio could be using this as an inspiration for the team’s live-action iteration.
So far, the MCU’s Yelena hasn’t shown leadership tendencies, but teaming up with other villains in Thunderbolts could force these traits to show up. Yelena’s takeover of the leadership role allows Pugh’s acting prowess to shine.
It will also be fitting to see how other antagonists like Zemo and John Walker will react to Yelena’s leadership, considering the pair are master tacticians. The villains butting heads over leadership would be exciting to see as it adds another layer to their evolution.
Thunderbolts is set to premiere in theaters on July 26, 2024.