Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel introduced Rachel Weisz on his show and revealed Marvel Cinematic Universe secrets in the process. If Rachel Weisz hadn’t been so quick to point it out, audiences may have been left questioning whether it was a big deal or not, but the reveal points big fingers at her character as the Black Widow villain.
At the very beginning of her appearance, Jimmy Kimmel introduced her by saying, “Our first guest tonight is an Oscar winner who is about to leap into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She plays Melina Vostokoff in Black Widow.” You have to know the Marvel comics and be quick to notice the problem in this introduction, but Rachel Weisz, who knows her own character, points it out right away. She says, “I think we are prohibited from saying Melina’s second name.” She has to repeat and explain that this is an MCU secret. Kimmel shrugs it off and jokingly announces that he has been cast as Kraven the Hunter. (This follows the reason casting of Aaron Taylor-Johnson for a solo Kraven movie.)
You can watch the beginning of her appearance on Kimmel and see the moment play out below.
So, is saying Melina “Vostokoff” really such a big deal? Yes, it really is. It gives us one more piece to the puzzle they’re offering us in the Black Widow marketing so far, and a big clue about the possible Black Widow villain. This movie is going to provide a lot of backstory for Black Widow, a character we’ve watched on screen for years. In the trailer, they’re heavily playing up the family angle for the characters in the film. They’re presented as a nuclear family, with a father, mother, and two daughters. They may be assassins, but if you weren’t paying incredibly close attention, you’d assume these were Natasha’s blood relatives. During the trailer, the father figure even calls Melina Black Widow’s mother.
But they never say Melina’s last name. This isn’t just because it’s different from Natasha’s. Melina Vostokoff is known as Iron Maiden in the Marvel comics, and she’s often an enemy of Natasha’s. Both women were raised as assassins for the Soviet Union and came to be rivals. Some of the motivation behind Melina’s dark deeds as Iron Maiden was to rival what Natasha Romanov was doing as a hero. In many of the comics, Melina is the Black Widow villain.
They’re going far out of their way to suggest Melina isn’t the villain in their marketing, between the family scenes in the trailer and even their promotional posters. We previously broke those down, pointing out that the posters for Black Widow and Melina have them in incredibly similar outfits and poses. This stands out against the costume for Black Widow’s sister, who is also dressed as an assassin but wearing white.
Revealing Melina’s last name doesn’t necessarily mean that she is the Black Widow villain of course. They can rewrite the Marvel comics character for the cinematic universe however they please. And it isn’t as if we hadn’t already associated “Melina” with “Melina Vostokoff”. Pointing out that this was something Rachel Weisz wasn’t meant to tell the public, though, reveals that Marvel is trying not to draw attention to the source material for her character. MovieWeb was quick to point out that the Black Widow villain in the marketing is Taskmaster, who is always wearing a mask. While there’s no telling if Melina could be the one under the mask, this certainly makes it seem plausible.