I’m going to have to talk about Natasha first, because apparently all of my meta is about being Russian.
I’ve seen people complaining about it, but Natasha being from the post-Soviet era is fucking brilliant. I don’t care that it’s different from the comics. Obviously, part of the reasoning for this comes from my own lived experience as a Ukrainian immigrant in the United States — I can’t tell you how weary I am of how many Russian women in American media are Cold War-spy eye-candy, and Natasha being removed from that is incredibly important. But it’s not just that. The post-Soviet origin story fits Natasha’s MCU characterization so much better.
This Natasha watched an empire crumble when she was a child. She was born into a time of decline and economic scarcity — stores with empty shelves and a government struggling to keep it all together, watching republics slip through their fingers. There were endless waiting lists for everything useful — it was a normal part of my childhood that I was not able to call my best friend unless she was at her grandmother’s place. Her building had not yet had phone lines installed. When I’d ask my parents when her apartment was going have a phone, my parents would scoff, “They’re on a list.”