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Comic Book: Black Widow
International Woman of Mystery

Black Widow (Natalia Romanova, aka Natasha Romanoff) is a Marvel Comics superheroine. Introduced in The Silver Age of Comic Books in the pages of Tales Of Suspense #52 (April 1964), she has been a regular supporting character (and occasional lead) ever since, including stints on The Avengers (as the chairperson, for a time), The Champions (again as the leader), and as a partner to Daredevil.

Natasha began her career as a Femme Fatale spy in the service of the Soviet Union, sent to seduce famed American industrialist Tony Stark, to which end she also manipulated the young Hawkeye. Hawkeye eventually joined the side of good, and eventually Natasha followed as well, beginning a long career as a superhero in the United States of America. She has no particularly enhanced physical abilities beyond suppressed aging, relying instead on being an all-around awesome spy and martial artist.

Bring her up in comics fandom and inevitably one of the first things to be mentioned is her numerous Love Interests (or, in most cases, the characters that she was a love interest to). Apart from the aforementioned Iron Man and Hawkeye, she has also, over the years, been romantically linked to Daredevil (even getting billed alongside him on the title for a while), Hercules (while they were on the Champions), and Bucky Barnes.

Natasha has had various miniseries in the past, and has led two solo ongoing books: one in 2010, and one in 2014, which is still ongoing.

Black Widow has appeared in a number of adaptations, and was most prominently portrayed by Scarlett Johansson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, featuring in Iron Man 2, The Avengers, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. You can't go anywhere that talks about superhero movies without tripping on speculation about whether or not Natasha will get her own movie — a common click bait article is to claim that Marvel is "developing" one, citing vague comments about how Kevin Feige is open to the idea, or, more recently, an unrelated interview with a celebrity openly wondering why it hasn't happened yet, considering that superhero movies, Scarlett Johansson, and Natasha herself are all at the historic peak of their popularity. Officially, there are no plans for a Black Widow movie at any time in the foreseeable future, but Marvel Studios is coming under increasingly heavy fire for neither committing to nor rejecting the idea.

Anime

Comics
  • Black Widow Vol. 1 (1999)
  • Black Widow Vol. 2 (2001)
  • Black Widow Vol. 3 (2004)
  • Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her (2005)
  • Black Widow and the Marvel Girls (2010)
  • Black Widow: Deadly Origin (2010)
  • Black Widow Vol. 4 (2010)
  • Black Widow Vol. 5 (2014)

Film

Video Games

Western Animation


She provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: In her first appearances as a villain, she was mainly just a seduction agent who relied on incompetent minions to handle the violence, but over time she’s been retconned into always having been a total badass.
  • Affirmative Action Legacy: In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Natasha has a successor in the form of Monica Chang, a young Chinese American woman who ends up taking over the Black Widow identity.
  • Animal Motifs: In volume 5, she has a large network of safehouses across the globe, repeatedly referred to as a "web".
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Of the Animal Alias variety.
  • Anti-Hero: Varies depending on the storyline. In some stories, she is depicted as a straight hero who shoots stun pellets from her gauntlets. In other stories, she's a cold-blooded killer. In still others, she's a mixture of both (for example, in one graphic novel, she tells two thugs that if they don't walk away from a confrontation with her, neither of them will walk ever again. She kills one of the men, and knocks the other unconscious. But she proceeds to break the unconscious man's spine to keep true to her word, greatly disturbing her companion. So in some respects, she's a hero for staying true to her word, but ... really?). Some adaptations make her an outright villain.
    • Very obvious in Avengers #11 under Hickman's pen. Natasha shoots and kills the men they've been distracted and Jessica Drew (whose past work includes both SHIELD and HYDRA) is horrified, proclaiming Natasha's executions unnecessary.
    • The film version of the character states several times that she doesn't consider herself a hero, and claims one reason she is with SHIELD is to clean the "red from her ledger", the nature of which is left unrevealed.
  • Antihero Substitute: Yelena Belova. Though Natasha herself is already an Anti-Hero, Yelena lacks Natasha's better traits, being a strait on Femme Fatale. She never caught on as well as Nat either.
  • The Atoner: One of the motivations for her becoming an Avenger. Played up more in the movies than in the comics where she occasionally slips back into her cold-blooded-killer ways.
  • Badass Normal: Like Nick Fury, beyond her immortality, most of her badassery is from training. Might cross into Badass Abnormal, depending on the writer.
  • Battle Couple: Has been one half of a number of them. See the Casanova examples below. The most recent example was with Bucky.
  • Black Widow (also Femme Fatale): Sort of; the name arguably hasn’t been a great fit for her since she gave up being a Honey Trap for the USSR back in the 1960s.
  • Car Cushion: In #2 of the 2014 series, the Widow dives off a skyscraper in Shanghai to avoid an assassin. After attempting to slow her fall, it eventually ends with her landing atop a car.
  • The Casanova (see also Really Gets Around, Launcher of a Thousand Ships): Her famous love life has led her to be involved with a number of superhero suitors: Hawkeye, Daredevil, Iron Man, Hercules, and Bucky Barnes (as Captain America). In her first appearance, she was also the wife of the Russian Captain America Expy, the Red Guardian.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: At times.
  • Chest Insignia: Not exactly a "chest" insignia, but the red hourglass symbol on her belt functions as such.
  • Child Spy: Trained as a spy and assassin from a young age. Invoked by her film counterpart, who offhandedly mentions she began spying at somewhere around eight years old.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: See also Expansion Pack Past.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Scarlett-as-Black Widow in Iron Man 2 threw off the filming for a few minutes during her first appearance.
    • An issue of X-Men: First Class detailing Natasha's first foray into catsuits had several concussed members of A.I.M. taking the time to discus her, rather than their severe Natasha-inflicted injuries.
  • The Drag-Along: How she joined the Avengers in the first place. They'd gone looking for Daredevil for help dealing with Magneto (who was using his powers to control most of the team), and she came with. Afterward, she opted to join them.
  • Expansion Pack Past: There was originally nothing in her backstory to suggest that she was quasi-immortal. This only developed (confusingly) in order to keep a famous late 1980s team-up issue of Uncanny X-Men set in the 1940s that had her as a young girl meeting Wolverine and Captain America in continuity. This concept has had some rather large implications for the character’s background.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: At the very least, Mockingbird has a crush on her. Going from their internal monologue when they first met, its not entirely one sided.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: Romanoff?
  • Fiery Redhead/Red-Headed Hero
  • Heel-Face Turn: Started out on the wrong side of the law as a Russian spy before switching sides and eventually joining the Avengers. Notably, in the Ultimate Universe, the opposite happens!
  • Heroes Want Redheads: As demonstrated by how many heroes have wanted to date her, and how many that have.
  • Home Porn Movie: In the Ultimates continuity, a videotaped tryst with Tony Stark goes public.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Her "Widow's Bite" gauntlets, which shoot out energy blasts.
  • Karma Houdini: Natasha has never really had any backlash from her initial manipulation of Clint (she started dating him in order to set him against Iron Man) and they're still friends.
  • Legacy Character: There's another Black Widow: Yelena Belova.
  • More Dakka: Her "characterisation" during Bendis' run on Mighty Avengers.
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black: Inverted/played with; in Iron Man 2, her suit was made dark blue, rather than black like the comics, to make it look more like a SHIELD outfit. Then The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, her suit is black, but also redesigned to look more like tactical gear than a simple catsuit.
  • Ms. Fanservice: When she has to be.
  • Noodle Incident: Recent depictions of Black Widow have occasionally made reference to a past action from her assassin days that continues to haunt her. In the comics, it's the fact she once destroyed a hospital during a mission, killing many innocents inside, including children. The first Avengers movie also references the hospital, among other acts, for which the film version of Natalia is shown to be The Atoner.
    • Another one from the Avengers movie that fans latched onto is the vague reference to 'Budapest'. Though the exact nature of what the incident is wasn't discussed beyond the fact that her and Clint 'remember Budepest very differently', but Captain America: The Winter Soldier has an extended scene where its revealed to have been one of the many atrocities she committed and regrets.
  • Older Than They Look: Thanks to a Soviet supersoldier serum derivative, she’s around 80 years old and still looks fabulous.
  • Pretty in Mink: Has worn furs, like a brown mink stole in a silver age issue of Iron Man, and a white mink coat and hat in a mid-90s issue.
  • Real Life Superpowers: One of the best examples in comics. Her beauty, intelligence, and fighting skills are legendary.
  • Sensual Slavs
  • Spy Catsuit: Has been rocking one for 40 years and counting.
  • The Stoic: Natasha's usual demeanour in recent years is one of chilly professionalism.
  • Super Soldier: A Soviet variant of the Super Soldier Serum has given her peak human abilities for a woman of her build.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Natasha gets one from Spider-Woman after she executes five people in Avengers #11 who were all mass murdering terrorists and/or criminals but still...
    Jessica: Unnecessary! Unnecessary!


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