Florence Pugh Wanted to Avoid 1 ScarJo Black Widow Trend for Yelena

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Florence Pugh, Yelena, Black Widow

Florence Pugh was hoping to avoid one particular trend that faced Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in the MCU.

Yelena Belova is one of Marvel Studios’ most popular characters post-Infinity Saga. But, being a Black Widow, the character’s very existence is always tied to ScarJo’s iconic Avenger.

Both are products of the infamous Red Room, with each having a mastery of hand-to-hand combat and most other forms of combative fighting.

Then there are their uniforms, which follow a similar design language—though there is one aspect of Yelena’s that differs.

Florence Pugh Discusses Yelena's New Hawkeye Look

Florence Pugh, Hawkeye poster

In the new book Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye: the Art of the Series, Yelena Belova actor revealed the one Black Widow costume trend they wanted to avoid for her appearance going into the Disney+ show, Hawkeye.

Pugh shared how "[she] didn't want her to be in tight suits," something Scarlett Johnson’s Natasha Romanoff is well known for.

"One thing that I really wanted with Yelena was that I didn't want her to be in tight suits ... I didn't want her to be a silhouette. I wanted her to be in clothes that she could fight in, that are a different look to what we've seen before."

The actress was also pleased with the consistency of her costume’s “toughness” and practicality, adding, "It's just the color has changed, which is really cool.”

Via Dev Supervisor Rodney Fuentebellaspoke about how they kept Yelena’s "lineage" in mind during the design stages:

"Because Yelena has a lineage, we wanted to figure out what that meant in terms of how much she is becoming her own woman, or how much she is taking a page from her past as the sister of Natasha… And how does that Black Widow look come into play in her costume?"

"They wanted… something she could have bought off the street," noted Visual Development Concept Illustrator Imogene Chayes:

"Yelena was the very first character they gave me when I got hired at Vis Dev… I was like, 'Holy moly, that's awesome. I love her.' I was told that they wanted this outfit to feel like something she could have just bought off the street, as opposed to it being something custom-made.”

To achieve that, she "took inspiration from fashion brands and referenced a lot of motorcycle jackets:"

"So I took inspiration from fashion brands and referenced a lot of motorcycle jackets, to make it feasible that it's something that she could have found and turned into her own sort of tactical look. It also keeps her a little more incognito, so she's not running around in some flashy Super Hero suit."

Florence Pugh Hawkeye concept art

Chayes shared how she worked from three different prompts to bring Yelena’s design into Hawkeye:

"The first one was, let's try designing a suit that pays homage to her sister, the Black Widow. The second was just a purely tactical suit. And then the third version is a more incognito look where she can blend into the real world—just her wearing contemporary clothes. These were very nerve-racking, but fun to do as my very first Marvel Vis Dev assignment."

At first in Hawkeye, audiences also see the character in some spiffy new night vision goggles which initially masked the character’s identity. Hayes confirms that the idea behind them is straight "from the comic books:"

"That comes pretty much exactly from the comic books… I was just trying to translate her comic book goggles into something practical and contemporary in the real world, so explored different versions of that. I researched a lot of military night vision goggles and just tried to put a special little spin on it for Yelena."

Florence Pugh's Practical MCU Outfits

Yelena Belova, Hawkeye concept art

It’s easy to see how the team completely succeeded in their goals when designing Yelena Belova’s look in Hawkeye. For both Black Widow and the recent Disney+ series, the character’s look manages to be unique yet inspired by Natasha Romanoff’s late hero while remaining practical all at the same time.

From the single piece of concept art fans have from Thunderbolts, Florence Pugh’s next performance in the MCU, that trend looks like it’ll keep going.

The real question is: if she one day joins the Avengers, will her suit start getting to the point of feeling custom-made? 

Many would probably argue that the iconic team isn’t really the place for Yelena, so perhaps she is safe from those form-fitting super suits for now.

It doesn’t seem like Marvel Comics shares the same design goals for its take on Yelena. The character is getting a new comic solo series titled White Widow, and her outfit is about as stereotypically tight as one might predict.

Hawkeye is now streaming on Disney+.

- In This Article: Black Widow
Release Date
July 09, 2021
- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.