Yelena’s Black Widow Joke Has Hilarious Secret Meaning

Yelena Belova jokes about Natasha Romanoff’s superhero poses in Black Widow, and the gag has a hilarious secret meaning. Black Widow finally reveals a bit about Natasha Romanoff’s (Scarlett Johansson) backstory. The film shows Romanoff was part of a Russian spy program in the United States in the ’90s. A flashback reveals a young Natasha living with Red Guardian (David Harbour) and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz), who serve as her fake parents, and Yelena Belova (played later by Florence Pugh), who acts as her fake sister. Though the four of them aren’t actually related, they become a family. However, after Red Guardian steals classified information from SHIELD, the group escapes the U.S. and breaks up. Yelena and Natasha are then forced to train in the Red Room, a Soviet-Russian program that creates mind-controlled Black Widow assassins.


Years after the group goes their separate ways, the four of them reunite to take down the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Red Room. Initially, Yelena sends Natasha an antidote that lets Black Widows break out of their Red Room brainwashing, and the pair eventually get back together. After an awkward beginning which involved the assassin pseudo-siblings duking it out, the pair reforge a sisterly bond. Armed with the Black Widow antidote, they also bring on Red Guardian and Melina to help find and bring down the Red Room.

Yelena makes fun of Natasha for being a poser in the movie, and the moment also has a deeper meaning. In a standout scene from the film, Yelena teases Natasha for her fighting poses, which involve flipping her hair, sticking one arm back, and crouching down to the ground. It’s one of the funniest jokes in Black Widow, and it comes back later in the movie when Yelena does a hero pose of her own. However, the joke also has a secret meaning behind it, which makes it even funnier. According to an interview with Pugh (via The Hollywood Reporter), the Black Widow stunt team said that Johansson would actually break her spine if she landed like Natasha in real life. Pugh then teased Johansson for the revelation, and screenwriter Eric Pearson put it in the movie.

The joke is a way for Marvel to poke fun at itself. Often, superhero movies and shows fall into the trap of taking themselves too seriously. For instance, as critically praised as Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight films were, the movies sometimes get knocked for being an unwaveringly dark take on a rich man who runs around in a bat costume fighting crime. While Black Widow deals with serious topics, such as brainwashing and families being broken apart, the gag is also Marvel’s way of keeping things fun and winking at the audience. Unlike The Dark Knight, Black Widow can take a joke.

The moment also gives the movie a more organic feel. Since the joke sprung from Pugh teasing Johansson in real life, the movie moment feels natural to the pair’s dynamic. Natasha and Yelena’s sisterly bond is at the heart of Black Widow, and small jokes and conversations help build the pair’s rapport and relationship throughout the film. Because the joke came from real life, it helps the film feel more real (even if Johansson’s poses are backbreakingly fake).

Key Release Dates
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: Sep 03, 2021
  • Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
  • The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Jul 28, 2023
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023
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About The Author

Bill Bradley (523 Articles Published)

Bill is an experienced reporter who’s covered entertainment and fandom since 2014. He’s done everything from unearthing the discarded Game of Thrones pilot script in a library in Texas to finding out why Steve left Blue’s Clues. He also enjoys eating Taco Bell and drinking chocolate milk.

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