Marvel loves tucking away secret messages and Easter eggs in single frames and in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments. The first Marvel Phase 4 movie, Black Widow, is no exception: Red Guardian’s tattoos are hiding a touching tribute to his ‘daughters’, Natasha and Yelena.
The first ‘present-day’ appearance of David Harbour’s portly Russian hero sees him arm wrestling – and arm-breaking – with several prisoners in a Russian jail. There, we also catch a glimpse of his many, many tattoos.
Across his right shoulder is a pair of roses with two names (written in Cyrillic script). As discovered by Vanity Fair writer Joanna Robinson, they translate to ‘Natasha’ and ‘Yelena.’
Just realized he has "Natasha" and "Yelena" tattooed on his arm in Russian 🥺 #BlackWidow pic.twitter.com/hZUrxpCwIJJuly 12, 2021
Not only is it a permanent reminder of Red Guardian’s ‘parentage’ to two of the deadliest Widows, it also tips viewers off early that the Russian hero has always cared deeply for Natasha and Yelena. Black Widow revealed he was installed as a sleeper agent in the mid-1990s in the Midwest and tasked with obtaining SHIELD/Hydra intel, while also masquerading as their father.
Much of Red Guardian’s arc revolves around him being unable to tell Natasha how much their time together in Ohio meant to him. But he’s always held that time close to his heart – as these tattoos prove. D’aww.
In a separate interview, David Harbour has revealed which of Red Guardian’s tattoos were his favorite. "He has ‘Karl Marx’ written on his knuckles, like ‘love’ and ‘hate,’ which I thought was just hilarious. I love that," Harbour told Variety. "There’s all these Russian words that were very personal to me. Then on his neck is a special custom tattoo we had built that is Rachel Weisz’s face in a bob haircut when she was younger. It says ‘Melina’ underneath that. That was probably my favorite one because I love Rachel Weisz."
For more on Natasha’s standalone adventure, check out our breakdown of the Black Widow ending. There’s also a deeper look at the Black Widow post-credits scene – including how it sets up a future MCU series. Plus, for more on Marvel’s Disney Plus slate, check out our guide to all the new Marvel TV shows currently in the works.