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 her most recent boyfriend, James "Bucky" Barnes
Natasha has had various miniseries in the past, and recently had an ongoing series.
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
and The Avengers
FilmVideo GamesWestern Animation
- 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)
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 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?
- 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.
- Badass Normal
- Battle Couple: Has been one half of a number of them. See the Casanova examples below.
- 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.
- 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.
- Dark and Troubled Past: See also Expansion Pack Past.
- Development Hell: Where her movie has been languishing for years. David Hayter (better known as SNAAAAKE!) has been trying to get it made for ages with no luck.
- Distracted by the Sexy: As mentioned on the YMMV page, Scarlett-as-Black Widow in Iron Man 2 threw off the filming for a few minutes during her first appearance.
- 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.
- Famous-Named Foreigner: Romanoff?
- Fiery Redhead/Red-Headed Hero
- Heel Face Turn
- Heroes Want Redheads: As demonstrated by how many heroes have wanted to date her.
- Impossibly Cool Weapon: Her "Widow's Bite" gauntlets, which shoot out energy blasts.
- Legacy Character: There's another Black Widow: Yelena Belova.
- 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.
- Older Than They Look: Thanks to a Soviet supersoldier serum derivative, she’s around 80 years old and still looks fabulous.
- Same thing with her boyfriend James Barnes (aka Bucky, occasionally Captain America when not the Winter Soldier). He looks like he's in his mid 20s, but he's really roughly 90.