Hollywood has been using Slavic characters as an inexhaustible source for tough guys and villain roles. It has been a common stereotype in Western films, series and video games for Russian/Eastern European Slavs tend to be depicted as large, rough and brash men always speaking in broken English.
After a myriad of Bond villains, came “Ivan Drago” from Rocky IV, “Boris the Blade” from Snatch, and “Ivan Checkov” from Boondock Saints depicted in a similar manner.
For the female parts, it has mostly been the Bond girls, that coined the TV trope “Sensual Slavs”, explained that the women from Central and Eastern Europe tend to be depicted as sultry femme fatales, with a hidden agenda.
Examples: Tatiana Romanova in From Russia with Love, Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me, Pola Ivanova in A View to a Kill, Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights, Xenia Onatopp and Natalya Simonova in GoldenEye, and Ivana Milicevic as Valenka in Casino Royale.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to make a list that focuses on a more positive and/or humorous portrayal of Slav characters in video games, movies and TV shows.
1. Viktor Krum
In the Harry Potter universe, Viktor Krum is a Bulgarian wizard and a positive character with a down-to-earth, sturdy Slavic demeanor. In the Harry Potter movies, he’s played by a Bulgarian actor Stanislav Ianevski. Other Slavic character mentions in the same universe are Igor Karkaroff and Gregorovich.
2. Niko Bellic
Niko Bellic is the protagonist of Rockstar’s famed video game Grand Theft Auto IV. In 2008, The Age ranked Niko as the second greatest Xbox character of all time, as “few characters in videogame history have provided us with such a spectrum of emotions. Niko’s nationality was left intentionally vague but it is believed he’s from the Balkan region of Eastern Europe.
3. Black Widow
Black Widow is a comic book character in the Marvel Universe. Known best as one of The Avengers, she is featured throughout the Marvel cinematic universe with her alter ego being Russian. Her real name is Natalia Alianovna “Natasha” Romanova.
4. Kick Ass
Kick-Ass (real name Dave Lizewski) is the the main character of the Kick-Ass series, published by Marvel Comics. Kick-Ass is Polish, and is portrayed by Aaron Taylor Johnson in Kick-Ass (2010) and Kick-Ass 2 (2013).
5. Illya Kuryakin
Illya Nickovitch Kuryakin is a fictional character from the 1960s TV spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E and from the 2015 movie remake of the series named The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Kuryakin is consistently referred to as a Russian; however, it is often mentioned he spent parts of his childhood in Kiev, Ukraine.
6. Silk Spectre
Laurie Juspeczyk aka Silk Spectre and her mother and predecessor Sally Jupiter, are superhero characters of Polish descent in DC Comics‘s Watchmen series, and in the movie adaptation of the same name – Watchmen (2009).
7. Pavel Checkov
Admiral Pavel Andreievich Chekov is a Russian character in the Star Trek universe. Portrayed by Walter Koenig in the Star Trek series and first seven Star Trek films and the late Anton Yelchin portrayed Chekov in the 2009 Star Trek reboot film and two sequels, Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond.
Smoke is a player character from the Mortal Kombat fighting game franchise and the movie Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Smoke is Czech with his real name being Tomas Vrbada. Fans ranked Smoke as the series’ best character in a poll hosted by Mortal Kombat Online in 2013
9. Alisa Bosconovitch
Alisa Bosconovitch (Russian: Алиса Босконович) is a video game character from the Tekken series, that are to this day considered one of the greatest fighting games of all time. Alisa is also featured in the movie Tekken: Blood Vengeance.
10. Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings
The Jennings are the main protagonists of the FX’s series The Americans where they portray Nadezda (Keri Russel) and Mikhail (Matthew Rhys), undercover Soviet spies hailing from Smolensk and Tobolsk in Russia.
Do you know any other Slavic characters? Let us know below.