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Will Rachel Weisz Be In Thunderbolts? Why Melina’s MCU Return Makes Sense

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Marvel unveiled its Thunderbolts roster at D23 with two of Black Widow‘s three surviving family members among the team’s ranks, with Rachel Weisz’s Melina Vostokoff while strangely absent. Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian (David Harbour) will join Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), U.S. Agent/John Walker (Wyatt Russell), Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko), and Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) to make up the main cast of 2024’s Thunderbolts directed by Jake Schreier. While the film’s plot remains unknown, Thunderbolts has widely been considered Marvel’s version of DC’s Suicide Squad given the troubled pasts and moral ambiguity of its characters. Melina, the adopted mother of Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johannson) and Yelena, first appeared in 2021’s Black Widow, which also introduced the MCU’s gender-swapped Taskmaster as Dreykov’s daughter Antonia. Melina’s absence from Thunderbolts‘ announced cast hardly means she will not appear in the movie, as her connection to three of the titular group’s members makes her involvement necessary.

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A former cohort of General Dreykov, Melina worked as a scientist for the Red Room program that both Yelena and Natasha were subjects in, which subjugated women and girls across the globe and trained them as assassins. Under Dreykov’s orders, Melina and Alexei lived as undercover agents in Ohio with Natasha and Yelena as children. Black Widow saw the makeshift family reunite 21 years after they were separated, on a mission to destroy the Red Room for good. Now that Thunderbolts has been confirmed as the MCU returns for Red Guardian and Taskmaster, as well as the first appearance for Yelena since Hawkeye, it would make sense for Melina to figure in the film’s plot.

Related: Everything We Know About Marvel’s Thunderbolts Movie

Although neither rumors nor official announcements have confirmed Melina’s MCU return in Thunderbolts, there’s reason to believe it could happen. Also known as Iron Maiden in Marvel Comics, Melina’s arc includes a stint with the Thunderbolts. The MCU would be foolish not to include Weisz’s character in its version of the team, as Black Widow established Melina’s dark past, as well as her association with Red Guardian, Yelena, and Taskmaster. If Melina is to feature in the MCU again, it must happen in 2024’s Thunderbolts to avoid plot holes and a noticeable lack of attention to the character.


Why It’s Likely Rachel Weisz’s Melina Will Return In Thunderbolts

In Black Widow, Johansson, Pugh, Harbour, and Weisz impressively exhibited a humorous, yet sincere, family dynamic through their estranged characters. Marvel’s failure to reunite the remaining trio in Thunderbolts would be a massive oversight. The end of Black Widow depicted Yelena, Alexei, and Melina leaving together, though only Yelena has reappeared in other parts of the MCU so far in Hawkeye. Excluding Melina entirely from Thunderbolts would raise questions when Yelena and Alexei reunite without the third living member of their family. Additionally, the MCU must address Melina and Yelena’s relationship, as the former invented the chemical brainwashing inflicted on her adopted daughter. Their intriguing rapport in the aftermath of Black Widow‘s events could also incorporate Taskmaster’s transition from Dreykov’s operative to an autonomous individual. Out of Black Widow’s four main characters, Melina had the least amount of screen time, so there’s much more to explore with her both individually and alongside other supporting characters.

Thunderbolts makes the most sense for Melina’s MCU return, primarily thanks to Yelena and Alexei’s role in the film. Melina would also suit the team well, given her status as an anti-hero herself. Despite being cycled through the Red Room four times against her will, Melina’s near-lifetime of aiding Dreykov leaves her with redemption to seek in addition to a new line of work following her former boss’ downfall. It’s possible that Marvel did not reveal its full Thunderbolts roster at D23 or that the team could change throughout the movie, thus, there remains hope for Melina’s appearance in the film.

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