Marvel movies like Black Widow

The hype is ramping up for the long-awaited Marvel Cinematic Universe solo film Black Widow. Finally, a week away from its release, buzz around the film has gotten louder and more exciting, and the standout conversation has been about Marvel newcomer Florence Pugh. Critics have dubbed her the MVP of the film, with much fanfare around the relationship her character Yelena Belova has with Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff.

Their banter in the trailers and numerous interviews with the lead actresses indicates the pair are like sisters. A recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter reveals that this dynamic goes beyond their onscreen moments. Pugh and Johansson discussed finding time to bond as early as the film’s rehearsal period, with Johansson saying, “[director] Cate Shortland brought in someone who could coach us through some bonding and trust exercises. And that was kind of goofy and fun.”

Trust falls must be more effective than they look, because Pugh and Johansson have such easy chemistry together. Johansson went on to explain that true bonding comes from combat training:

“The real bonding happened on the first or second day of Florence’s work when we immediately slammed each other into door frames and cabinets. It was so physical, and it was a real icebreaker… So we bonded over a headlock.”

Nothing establishes sibling relationships quite like wrestling, which Pugh went even further into detail about:

“The moment where I totally died was when we were doing a scene and Scarlett put her hand in my armpit. [Laughs.] And I just died because I knew how sweaty it was. So Scarlett looked at me and went, “That’s a sweaty pit.” I was like, “Oh, no! That’s it. It’s over. R.I.P. Scarlett Johansson tested my sweat.” [Laughs.]”

Avengers Endgame - Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

Shared History and Found Family

Early trailers for Black Widow show a fairly complicated relationship, with Yelena and Natasha facing off in hand-to-hand combat — then later sharing a family meal with David Harbour’s Red Guardian and Rachel Weisz‘ Melina Vostokoff. While the initial fight scenes speak to an adversarial relationship, we all know that Natasha tends to point weapons at even her closest friends. And we have plenty of reason to believe her relationship with Yelena comes from a place of love.

Natasha and Yelena share history, having trained together in the Red Room, a top-secret Soviet training program that continues to haunt Natasha’s conscience. Found family has been a crucial element of Natasha’s storyline and part of the reason she’s able to confront her past as a Soviet spy.

Her relationship with Avengers Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) was core to her emotional growth, allowing her to place trust in others. The Avengers became a much-needed family for Natasha and helping people (especially following the events of Avengers: Infinity War) became a mission so fulfilling, that she was willing to sacrifice herself for Clint at the end of Avengers: Endgame.

Of course, this movie will precede many of those events, taking place neatly between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. Still, given that this film this follows her time with The Avengers, Natasha already has experience placing her trust in others, even when the odds are stacked against them. Hopefully, she can do the same with Yelena. Given they go toe-to-toe in combat and share such natural, sisterly chemistry, there’s no doubt the two will accomplish greatness if they’re able to work together.

Black Widow arrives in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access on July 9, 2021.

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