With Black Widow’s release delayed indefinitely, Marvel fans have more time to answer the sometimes random questions that come to mind – the last being why don’t Black Widow and his clan speak Russian?
The obvious answer to this is that most Marvel movies don’t work well with subtitles. One of the reasons why Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and other action movies are so well played abroad is that they don’t depend on dialogue. The action gets the message across. Show, don’t say, like the cinema teachers say.
Misplaced English is not unusual in movies
Characters speaking English when they should really speak another language have been a common sight (and sound) since the movies moved from silence to sound. The simplest explanation is that the average American prefers not to read the subtitles. One of the common jokes on the CinemaSins YouTube channel is that “reading” is one of the sins.
Even Martin Scorsese, who said that Marvel films are “not cinema” used this method when making his controversial film The last temptation of Christ. Since Scorsese made the film with predominantly American actors, several observers have pointed out the incongruity of, say, the Judas of Harvey Keitel speaking with a Brooklyn accent.
Indeed, Jesus speaks English in most of the films in which he was portrayed, even though he lived long before English was born. One of the few films to break this convention was that of Mel Gibson. The passion of Christ, in which the characters spoke Aramaic. If it’s good enough for Jesus, you could say, it’s good enough for Marvel.
Fans discuss why Black Widow is not in russian
On Reddit, a fan asked, “Isn’t it unrealistic that Natasha and her” family “don’t speak in Russian? Also, why does Yelena (the character of Florence Pugh) call her Natasha when her original Russian name is Natalia Romanova? “
Another fan replied, “I would love to watch them speak Russian for two hours. However, Marvel movies are meant to be for the whole family and I doubt most people will want to spend the whole movie reading subtitles, especially children. It was also pointed out that the HBO show Chernobyl was presented entirely in English, despite being located in the then Soviet Union.
And yet another fan raised this point that applies to the whole genre of superheroes, with so many of their characters being aliens: “Isn’t it unrealistic that the aliens speak English? I thought we were over that … “
Films are often dubbed in other languages
Movies often find fun ways to switch from a foreign language to English. Probably the most notable Russian example is the film Hunting for Red October, Jack Ryan’s first cinematic adventure. Most of this film takes place in a Russian submarine, and when the film starts, the characters speak in Russian, with English subtitles. There is an extreme close-up when a character says the word “Armageddon” and when the camera backs up, the same characters speak English.
The irony of this discussion is that many movies, especially big budget Hollywood movies, are often dubbed in multiple foreign languages. Disney recently demonstrated this at the Oscars when the nominated Frozen II song “Into the Unknown” was sung not only by Idina Menzel, but also by other women who sang for Elsa abroad. Priyanka Chopra was one of the women who voiced Elsa for the foreign market, while her sister, Parineeti, voiced Anna.
So in the end, Natasha, Yelena and the others will speak to each other in Russian when the film is dubbed in Russian. We just have to wait to know when it will be released.