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You're fooling yourself. We are still both trained killers.
~ Yelena to Natasha.
Pain and suffering is every day and we are both still a trained killer. Except I'm not the one that's on the cover of a magazine. I'm not the killer that little girls call their hero.
~ Yelena to Natasha.
The only thing you care about are your stupid glory days as the Crimson Dynamo and no one want to hear about it. (Alexei Shostakov: It's the Red Guardian.)
~ Yelena to Alexei.
Yelena Belova (Russian: Елена Белова), also known as Black Widow, is the deuteragonist of the 2021 Marvel Cinematic Universe film Black Widow, and will return as an antagonist in the upcoming streaming Disney+ tv series Hawkeye.
Belova was raised as an infant in the United States alongside her adoptive sister Natasha Romanoff by Russian sleeper agents Alexei Shostakov and Melina Vostokoff. At the age of six, she was inducted into the Red Room and trained to become a lethal female assassin known as a Black Widow. Conditioning ensured she unquestionably followed the orders of General Dreykov, the Red Room's commander.
After spending years as Dreykov's slave, Belova was freed from her mind control when she came into contact with an antidote of sorts. Having earned her life back, Belova decided to use the antidote to free the other Black Widows and put an end to Dreykov. Working together with her estranged family, Yelena was able to destroy the Red Room, free the Black Widows, and kill Dreykov before his plans for world-domination could blossom. After the Blip, Yelena mourned the death of Natasha, and was greeted by Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, who falsely claimed that Natasha was killed by her colleague Clint Barton.
Yelena Belova was born around 1988-1989 in Russia to unnamed parents, and after her parents' death, she was adopted by Alexei Shostakov and Melina Vostokoff. In reality, Yelena was falsely adopted as Alexi and Melina were Soviet agents, and they were assigned to the United States to infiltrate the North Institute, which was secretly a front for S.H.I.E.L.D. Alexei and Melian pretend to be a family with their adoptive children, whom were Red Room trainees.
For three years, Yelena and her adoptive family lived in Ohio, and had a close relationship with her adoptive sister, Natasha Romanoff. Despite not being a true adoptive family, Yelena considered them to be her true family since they were the only ones she had. In 1996, Alexi and Melina's cover were blown after obtaining intel from the North Institute, forcing the group to leave Ohio with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and law enforcement after them.
Upon arriving to Cuba, Yelena and Natasha were assigned to the Red Room Program by General Dreykov, and were trained to become master assassins and spies. The two "siblings" managed to survive their Red Room training, becoming "Black Widows", elite assassins who were put through brainwashing so Dreykov could control them.
In 2016, Yelena and the Black Widows are assigned by General Dreykov to eliminate former black widow Oksana, who was holding a substance called "Red Dust". Yelena managed to stop Oksana, but the former black widow sprayed Belova with the red dust, freeing her from Dreykov's control. Horrified for what she had done, Yelena attempted to save Oksana, but she told Belova to free the other Black Widows from Dreykov. She decided to keep her promise to Oksana, going off the grid and sent the red dust vials to Natasha for safe keeping while she went into hiding. Yelena then traveled to Budapest to Natasha's apartment, where the two briefly battled each other before calling a truce. Afterward, Yelena informed Natasha that the Red Room was active, which caused the latter to be shocked and confused, stating that she had assassinated Dreykov years ago.
Before the two could continue their conversation, they were forced to leave the apartment when Black Widows were sent to kill them. During their escape, they were attacked by Taskmaster, who was the commander of the Red Room, and caused their car to crash into a subway station. Surviving the attack, Natasha contacted her former S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague, Rick Mason, to acquire transport so they could rescue Alexei from the Seventh Circle prison. After rescuing their adoptive father, Yelena and Natasha decided to speak with Melina to learn of Dreykov's whereabouts. Meeting with Vostokoff, she revealed that her mission in Ohio years ago was to achieve mind control and take away their free will, showing it by telling her pig Alexei to stop breathing. Yelena was also told by Romanoff that their adoptive family wasn't real, angering Belova, who also chastised Melina for being the reason she was turned into a brainwashed killer.
While bonding with Alexei, Yelena was captured by Melina, who was actually Natasha in disguise, and taken to the Red Room to be prepped for surgery. Natasha informed Yelena that she placed a hidden knife in Belova's suit, which allowed her to escape, defeat her captives, and recover the red dust vials. She managed to save Natasha from being killed by the Black Widows, and freed them from Dreykov's control by using the red dust as a bomb. After saving Natasha, Yelena almost sacrificed herself when she killed General Dreykov by destroying his helicopter by breaking the propeller, but was saved by Romanoff. Yelena and Natasha reunited with their adoptive parents, and Natasha urged them to leave the area with the red dust vial to stop the other Red Room cells. Belova, Alexei and Melina gave their farewell to Natasha, who reunited with her former Avengers teammates Captain America and Falcon to stop terrorist cells.
After the events of stopping the Red Room, Yelena became an assassin for Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, who was a member of an unnamed organization that was looking for powerful individuals. Around that time, Yelena decided to get a dog whom she named Fanny, after Natasha's alias.
It's unknown if Yelena was a victim of the snap, which was caused by Thanos, a mad titan who wanted to wipe out half of the universe to control population. If so, Yelena would be resurrected by the Hulk in 2023, as the Avengers had managed to time travel to different points in time to collect Infinity Stones to undo the decimation. Yelena would learn that Natasha died in the process, and visited her grave alongside her dog Fanny, mourning her loss. She was interrupted by Valentina, who showed her a picture of Natasha's colleague Clint Barton, falsely accusing him of murdering Romanoff. It's assumed that Valentina tasked Yelena with targeting Barton.
As a child, Yelena was shown to be kind and loving, as she was seen playing with Natasha and enjoyed the company of Alexei and Melina. She believed that her adoptive family were her real family, considering that they raised her for three years while undercover in Ohio. After years of training in the Red Room and feeling abandoned by her adoptive family, Yelena became cynical and gained a sardonic sense of humor. Her training also gave her a different view of morality, as she was willing to steal a car from a Hungarian man without question. Despite this, she is shown to be horrified of her actions while under Dreykov's control, and was determined to free the Black Widows from him. Once reuniting with her adoptive family, Yelena reconciles with them, and shows herself to be care deeply about them. Her relationship with Natasha was shown to be strong, as she mourned her adoptive sister's death when visiting her grave.
Master Spy: Yelena was trained by the Red Room, a secret Soviet organization created to make elite female assassins under Dreykov's control. She was a master spy, being skilled in infiltration and tactics.
Master Martial Artist: Having been trained in the Red Room, Yelena is a master martial artist, being able to hold her own against Natasha and Black Widows.
Knife Mastery: She is skilled with knives, killing a Black Widow within seconds.
Staff Mastery: She is skilled with staffs.
Master Marksman: Yelena is skilled with weapons, as she is shown to be able to use a handgun, sniper and a grenade launcher.
Master Acrobat: Due to her extensive training, Yelena was trained in ballet, allowing her to be more acrobatic.
Master Assassin: Due to her training from the Red Room, Yelena became a master assassin at a young age. According to Alexei, she is one of the greatest child assassins the world has known.
Master Pilot: ???
Multilingualism: She is able to speak her native language Russian, English and Hungarian.