Black Widow: How Emma Watson’s Yelena Belova Would Have Been Different

Before Florence Pugh won the role of Yelena Belova in Black Widow, Emma Watson was reportedly a front runner, and her portrayal would've been very different. In Black Widow, the Marvel Cinematic Universe finally gives Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) the recognition she deserves. The film reveals Romanoff was part of a Russian spy program that secretly operated in the United States in the '90s. In the program, Red Guardian (David Harbour) and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) acted as Romanoff's fake parents, and Yelena Belova (played later by Pugh) acts as her fake sister. The four of them become close during their time together and even reunite years later to destroy the Red Room, a Soviet-Russian operation that brainwashed future Black Widow assassins.

Pugh's Yelena is a welcomed addition to the MCU. Pugh brings heart, physicality, and a many-pocketed vest to the role. In addition, Yelena's jokes and sass often steal the show throughout the film. In fact, a real-world joke between Johansson and Pugh even made it into the script, allowing the movie to showcase an organic sisterly relationship between the actors. And Marvel clearly has confidence in Pugh's MCU future, even using a post-credit scene to set up more appearances by the character in upcoming projects.

Related: Black Widow Might Have Confirmed Old Cap Lived In The Main MCU Timeline

Despite Pugh's iconic performance, she may not have always been the front runner for the role. In 2019, reports said Emma Watson could take one of the lead roles in the film. At the time, the role was described as a "kick ass female Bond." Of course, Pugh received the part of Black Widow's spunky, comical pseudo sister, Yelena. However, considering Emma Watson was a one-time front runner, Marvel was clearly open to a very different interpretation of the character.

Unlike Pugh, Watson doesn't have a true action role in her notable credits. Pugh's Yelena is physical from her introduction in Black Widow, immediately fighting with her former sister when the pair first meet up. And the actor had plenty of experience in that realm, previously portraying a wrestler in Fighting with My Family. On the other hand, Watson tends to take on less physical roles. Other than swinging an axe in This Is the End, a movie in which she plays an alternate version of herself, Watson has gravitated towards more dramatic roles after first appearing in Harry Potter films. However, the actor has also performed choreography in films such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, so perhaps her Black Widow fight scenes could've taken on more graceful routines.

Looking at the differences between Pugh and Watson, perhaps the best comparison is a movie they both starred in. In Little Women, Pugh plays Amy, and Watson plays Meg. In the movie, Amy starts as a petulant child, and though she steals scenes and Timothee Chalamet's heart, that childishness never fully leaves her character. Alternatively, Meg is the older sister obsessed with the finer things in life. The difference in their characters may very well have been the difference in their versions of Yelena. Florence Pugh's Yelena brings much-needed childishness to the often-serious Black Widow, while Watson's Yelena—given her history of roles—would've likely had more maturity and downplayed the comedy.

More: Black Widow Is Hurt By The MCU Formula

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