• Bailey Fink

A Beginner’s Guide to Black Widow

Catch up on Black Widow’s MCU journey before the movie hits theaters.


After a yearlong delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Widow is premiering simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ on July 9. The highly anticipated movie is the first film of Marvel’s Phase 4 release, which has included WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki. It’s been a while since Marvel fans have seen Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) — especially since she died during Avengers: Endgame. So, if you have never seen a Marvel movie before — or if you just need a refresher — we present our beginner’s guide to Black Widow.


Photo credit: Marvel Studios 2021

Who is Black Widow?

Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) was born in Russia where she was taught by the Red Room, a group that trains young girls to be lethal undercover agents for the KGB. Natasha was a major asset to the KGB, until S.H.I.E.L.D., the organization behind what we know as the Avengers, sent Clint Barton (better known as Hawkeye) to kill her. However, Clint decided to spare her life and bring her back to S.H.I.E.L.D. After that, her loyalties lie with S.H.I.E.L.D., and most importantly with Clint — and the two develop a very powerful friendship. Beyond this, we don’t know much about Natasha’s past.


We first meet Natasha in Iron Man 2, where she is tasked with looking after Tony Stark (Iron Man) as an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. After that, Black Widow becomes an integral part of S.H.I.E.L.D., and later the Avengers.


Black Widow alongside Steve Rogers (Captain America), Thor, Bruce Banner (The Hulk), Iron Man, and Hawkeye make up the Avengers who fight off Loki in Avengers. Following the Battle of New York, Natasha and Captain America go on a mission to defend S.H.I.E.L.D. from HYDRA, a terrorist organization, and its trained assassin — the Winter Soldier, also known as Steve Rogers’ long lost friend Bucky Barnes. She helps take down HYDRA in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron.


In Captain America: Civil War, Natasha sides with Steve who doesn’t believe the Avengers should sign the Sokovia Accords, an agreement that would make them part of the United Nations. She fights on Steve’s side, and because of this doesn’t sign the Accords, which makes her a fugitive.


This leads us to Avengers: Infinity War, where Natasha comes out of hiding to help stop Thanos from getting the Infinity Stones. Obviously, they are unsuccessful and Thanos wipes out half of the galaxy’s population. Natasha is one of the Avengers who does not get snapped away.


During Avengers: Endgame, the Avengers are tasked with going back in time to steal the Infinity Stones before Thanos could get them. Clint and Natasha team up to find the Soul Stone on Vormir. However, when they arrive, Red Skull, the Soul Stone’s keeper, tells them that in order to get the Stone they will have to sacrifice someone they love. The two argue about who will die: Natasha wants to sacrifice herself to repay her debt to Clint for saving her life so Clint can return to his family. Clint throws himself off of the cliff, but Natasha attaches a line to him that saves him, then launches herself off. Clint grabs her, but she forces herself out of his grip and falls to her death — thus procuring the Soul Stone.


Wait, Another One About a Dead Avenger?

I know, I know. Marvel has really been obsessed with parading their dead folks around in posthumous tv series. But this one actually makes sense because Black Widow will be a prequel film to Infinity War. So Black Widow takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War.


Photo credit: Marvel Studios 2021

Romanoff’s Relationships

Natasha and Bruce Banner develop a budding romance with each other; however, it never goes anywhere. Bruce reveals he can never be in a relationship because of his “monster” alter ego and Natasha says she also sees herself as a monster. Despite the fact that they never become romantically involved, Natasha is the only person who can get Bruce to come back after he has changed into The Hulk.


It’s unclear whether Clint and Natasha ever had romantic feelings or a relationship, but it is subtly hinted at through their actions.


What are Black Widow’s Powers?

Black Widow does not have any super human abilities, instead she has remarkable strength, stamina and agility from her time at the Red Room. She is trained to near perfection in multiple fighting skills and she uses her background in ballet and gymnastics in most of her missions.


What is Black Widow About?

Black Widow has been characterized as less of a superhero movie and more of a spy thriller. It will follow Natasha’s journey between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War when she was a fugitive because she refused to sign the Sokovia Accords. We will also get a glimpse into Natasha’s past in Russia. Natasha reluctantly joins forces with an unlikely group of spies as they try to stop a lethal force from being unleashed. However, Natasha is threatened by her past, the relationships she left in her wake, and a deadly assassin.


Because Black Widow is a self-contained movie, you shouldn’t expect to see any other Avengers making an appearance. Instead, there are some new faces entering the scene including David Harbour (Stranger Things), Florence Pugh (Little Women), and Rachel Weisz (The Lovely Bones).


Photo credit: Marvel Studios 2021

Do I Need to Know Anything Else?

Luckily for you Black Widow is a standalone movie and is perfect for anyone who doesn’t know much about the MCU. Even though it is situated between two movies, it tells its own story. However, there is a surprise cameo from a familiar The Falcon and the Winter Soldier face, but that’s because this movie was supposed to come out before TFATWS. So the now cameo was actually supposed to be an introduction and setup for TFATWS — however, that’s fairly unimportant to the plot of Black Widow. Additionally, Black Widow’s director, Cate Shortland, has said the movie isn’t based on any Marvel comic storylines.


Black Widow premieres in theaters and with premier access on Disney+ on July 9.

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