After a decade of fighting villains, Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff is finally getting her dues with the standalone Black Widow movie. Presented by Marvel Studios, Black Widow takes place between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame.
Prior to the film’s release in select theatres on July 9, Marvel released a special tribute to Natasha Romanoff on their show Marvel: Legends. The show, which is designed as a refresher for fans before the release of Phase 4 projects, has previously had special episodes dedicated to Wanda Maximoff, The Vision, Bucky Barnes, Sam Wilson and Loki.
In the Marvel: Legends episode, we go on a non-linear journey with Natasha. We first see her fighting the Infinity War with the rest of Avengers, where the Mad Titan Thanos successfully collects all six infinity stones and wipes out half of the universe.
We then see her and the rest of the Avengers trying to bring their friends and colleagues back. In Avengers: Endgame, we see how Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, Rhodey, Ant-Man, Rocket and Nebula go back in time to collect the Infinity Stones before Thanos can do so. This is a pivotal moment for Natasha, who ends up in Vormir with Hawkeye or Clint Barton, her best friend.
When Red Skull, who guards the Soul Stone, reveals that one has to sacrifice their soul to get it, the two best friends fight it out to sacrifice their lives. In the end it is Natasha, who falls to her death, as Hawkeye has to bring back his family. At Natasha’s funeral, Tony Stark asks, “Do we know if she had family," to which Steve Rogers says, “Yes, us."
Found family is really on brand for Natasha, as over the years she went from becoming a spy to an Avenger and then a family member. When she was trained as a spy, as hinted in the MCU films, she was robbed off of her childhood and a family. When she was recruited into SHIELD, she eventually found her own people.
After her death in Avengers: Endgame, Marvel: Legends takes us back to her first appearance in Iron Man 2. As Natalie Rushman, she becomes Tony Stark’s srcretary and observes whether he is worthy of being recruited as an Avenger. We are also taken back to her first fight sequence when it is revealed that Natalie is actually a highly trained fighter. It is later when Tony Stark finds out she is a SHIELD agent.
We then see her in full glory in the 2012 film The Avengers, where she fights arm in arm with other men with superpowers. We also revisit her interrogation scene with Loki, where she tries to bargain with him for Clint’s life. She confesses to Loki that she has killed a lot of innocents and owes it to Clint for giving her a second chance. In the scene, Loki tries to manipulate her and tell her that he will make Clint kill her and them get rid of him in painful fashion. He also then lets it slip to a visibly emotional Natasha that his plan is to unleash the Hulk. This is when Natasha reveals that it was actually her who was manipulating the God of Mischief.
This scene is a reminder of how Natasha’s skills extend beyond fighting. This is why she is an equally effective fighter even though she doesn’t have superpowers.
We see her journey through the rest of the film. After the events of The Avengers, she joins Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson against her own workplace SHIELD, as it is infiltrated by Hydra, a Nazi organisation formed during the World War. She also fights against the deadly assasin Winter Soldier, who we find out is Steve Rogers’ best friend Bucky Barnes.
After successfully demolishing the corrupted SHIELD with Steve, Sam and Nick Fury, Natasha then joins the rest of the Avengers in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). In the Joss Whedon directorial, the superheroes fight against an android, whose mission was to destroy the world using nuclear missiles and then to rule over the survivors. However, his plan was stopped by Vision, who was created from Tony Stark’s AI Jarvis. Ultron then launched his army to terrorise the people of Sokovia and the Avengers teamed up to fight against them.
In the film, we saw more glimpses into Natasha’s past. While she developed feelings for Bruce Banner (The Hulk), she revealed that she had to undergo forced sterilisation. We saw a more vulnerable Natasha in the film and it teased aspects of her life that we think will be shown in Black Widow.
Natasha’s last appearance before the events of Black Widow was in Captain America: Civil War (2016). In this film the Avengers are divided into team Iron-Man and team Captain America due to the Sokovia Accords, a treaty to keep the Avengers in control. While Iron Man wants to sign the accords to be accountable, Captain America thinks of it as a manipulation tactic. This is made worse when the Winter Soldier is suspected of bombing the United Nations, killing several dignitaries. Steve Rogers then becomes a State enemy for his role in abetting a wanted criminal.
While Steve and Tony fight it out, Natasha has an interesting arc in the film. She is team Iron Man and believes that the Sokovia Accords are a way to keep her family (The Avengers) together. On the other hand, when the Avengers actually start fighting amongst each other, she lets Steve escape with Bucky. This makes her a State criminal as well and she goes into hiding.
This is when the events of Black Widow are set to take place. As per the trailers, it seems Natasha will go back home to Russia to confront her past. There she will come face to face with Taskmaster, a mysterious villain who knows the strengths and weaknesses of his enemies too well.
Natasha Romanoff’s arc in the MCU would have been incomplete without her stand-alone movie. Even though this film is a few years too late, and made sadder with her death in Endgame, fans are still excited to see her get her due recognition. In a way, it will be a nice closure for all Natasha Romanoff fans.
Directed by Cate Shortland, Black Widow stars Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, Rachel Wiesz and David Harbour in lead roles.