Follow TV Tropes

Following

Comic Book / Black Widow

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/blackwidow_9459.jpg
International Woman of Mystery
Advertisement:

Black Widow (Natalia Romanova, aka Natasha Romanov) 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 fixture in the Marvel universe ever since, graduating from a Bronze Age socially conscious solo feature and a co-lead in Daredevil and the Black Widow to leader of the Champions, and even The Avengers for a time.

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.

Advertisement:

Bring her up in comics fandom and inevitably one of the first things to be mentioned is her numerous Love Interests. Apart from the aforementioned 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.

Black Widow has appeared quite often in other media, most notably in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as portrayed by Scarlett Johansson. First introduced in 2010's Iron Man 2, she's since become a major recurring player within the franchise, appearing in a total of seven films to date. As a result of her popularity among audiences, in January 2018, Jac Schaeffer (Olaf's Frozen Adventure, TiMER) was tapped to write a film featuring the character, and in July, Cate Shortland was announced as the director. It started to film in May 2019. In July 2019, the film's release date was announced as May 1, 2020, as the first film in Phase 4 of the MCU.

Advertisement:

Anime

Comics

  • Amazing Adventures Vol. 2 (1970)
  • Daredevil & the Black Widow (1972)
  • 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)
  • Black Widow Vol. 6 (2016)
  • Tales of Suspense: Red Ledger (2017)
  • Black Widow Vol. 7 (2019)

Film

Video Games

Western Animation


She provides examples of:

  • Absolute Cleavage: Sometimes drawn with this.
  • Aborted Declaration of Love: In Mark Waid's Black Widow #8, Natasha meets up with the Winter Soldier, whom she doesn't remember her relationship with. Just before she leaves, he calls her back and is clearly about to tell her that he loves her, but tells her to stay warm and be careful instead.
  • 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.
  • Amicable Exes: With Matt Murdock. The two get along great even after their relationship ended and Natasha has helped Matt a number of times. She also gets along well with Hercules whom she dated while they were on the Champions. Depending on the Writer she can also be this with Bucky Barnes.
  • Animal Motifs: Despite the fact that Natasha lacks inherent spider-power or a close connection to Marvel's other spider-named heroes, she invokes this fairly often.
    • Her wrist gauntlets which shoot an electric pulse are referred to as her "Widow's Bites."
    • She travels the rooftops using grappling lines ejected from her gauntlets which she (usually) calls her "Widow's Web."
    • Though often forgotten these days, her costume is outfitted with suction cups which allow her to cling to walls, just like a spider.
    • In volume 5, she has a large network of safehouses across the globe, repeatedly referred to as a "web".
    • Her costume generally includes an understated version of the motif, typically a small red hourglass symbol.
  • 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.
  • The Atoner: One of the motivations for her becoming an Avenger. Played up more in the movies than in the comics.
  • 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:
    • First, when she worked together with Hawkeye as a supervillain pair against Iron Man. This was reflected in Ultimate continuity and the movies with the two working together as SHIELD partners.
    • Later, after her costume change and her stint as a New York solo heroine, she saved Daredevil's life and sparked a fairly long-lasting partnership and romantic relationship.
    • Most recently, she dated the newly returned Bucky Barnes, and fought alongside him in his capacity as Captain America and later, when he returned to the Winter Soldier identity.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted reasonably often in Natasha's case. She's had her nose broken at least once and has received her fair share of black eyes, facial cuts, and bloody noses in her line of work.
  • Black Widow: Natasha is actually a notable subversion: in the pages of the Avengers, it's revealed that her husband's death was faked in order to manipulate her into becoming a spy for the USSR. Later stories continued to play with this theme by introducing the concept of the Widow's Curse - all those who got close to her died (similar to Daredevil, although this was before the days of Elektra). The introduction of her Expansion Pack Past doubled down on this; she didn't kill her loved ones, she survived and outlived generations of them.
  • 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 original redemption arc, it was revealed that she was the widow of the Russian Captain America Expy, the Red Guardian.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: At times. It's Depending on the Writer how strong she actually is.
  • Chest Insignia: In the 80s and 90s, she wore a chest insignia of a Black Widow spider (along with a larger matching one on her back). Modern stylings of her costume generally prefer to put an hourglass on her belt instead.
  • Child Soldier: In one version of her backstory, she was trained as a spy and assassin from a young age, although this was later altered so that she had fought in World War 2 as a child. Invoked by her film counterpart, who offhandedly mentions she began spying at somewhere around eight years old.
  • Color Animal Codename: A Zigzagged Trope in the sense that the animal's name isn't 'widow', it's specifically the 'black widow' (spider), which incorporates the color black into it.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: See also Expansion Pack Past.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: 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 discuss 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.
  • Exposed to the Elements: On at least two occasions she was seen wearing only signature Spy Catsuit in a cold snowy environment. Particularly ludicrous as one of those instances had showing Absolute Cleavage.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: At the very least, Mockingbird has a crush on her. Going from their internal monologue when they first met, it's not entirely one sided.
    • Rogue thinks she's a good kisser.
  • False Memories: Her past as a ballerina was revealed to be a lie created by the Red Room. It turns out she was an orphan taken in by them and raised to be an assassin. The reason for the fake memories as a ballerina was to instill happy memories of Russia in her and thus make her feel more patriotic.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: Romanov? Various writers have penned stories suggesting that she is a descendant of the Russian imperial family to justify the name.
  • Femme Fatale: Check the codename. Though tempered by the conservative era of comics in which she debuted, the trope looms over her background, but it's only one of many skills she has.
  • Fiery Redhead: Though she is usually calm, she is still a rather aggressive fighter.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Spider: Invoked. She also has a spider inspiration as Spider-Man but with a different scenario and origins (a Badass Normal Femme Fatale Spy instead of a superpowered being), being part of The Avengers as well S.H.I.E.L.D., even when she's not so nice as Spidey.
  • Good Is Not Nice / Good Is Not Soft: Varies depending on the writer and the venue. The comic book version is more likely to be the former (while occasionally crossing the line into anti-hero territory, again depending on the writer and storyline - see the What the Hell, Hero? entry below), whereas the film version so far seems firmly in the latter category (she's everybody's buddy, has a crush on Dr. Banner, is great with kids, but if you're a HYDRA mook, you're dead).
  • Guile Hero: As expected of a highly trained spy.
  • 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.
  • Heroic Seductress: While on the side of the angels, Natasha still uses sex to obtain information at times.
  • 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.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: While not used as often as the likes of Hawkeye or Deadshot, Natasha has occasionally displayed incredible marksmanship. She once shot out Hawkeye's bowstring while he was in the middle of firing causing him to miss his target.
  • 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.
  • Killed Off for Real: In the Ultimate Marvel universe, she was killed by Hawkeye because she killed his whole family.
  • Kind Hearted Cat Lover: Natasha doesn't exactly admit to this, at first. In the 2014 series, a black cat keeps showing up at her apartment. Nat eventually warms to the animal, naming it "Liho".
  • Legacy Character:
    • Recent stories introduced a rival Black Widow from Russia, Yelena Belova. Various stories have played with the idea of Natasha coming from a group of multiple Black Widow trainees.
    • In Ultimate continuity, Monica Chang and Jessica Drew both take up the Black Widow codename after Natasha Romanov.
    • Marvel's predecessor, Timely Comics, published stories starring a character named the Black Widow in the 30s, although they share little in common beyond the name.
    • Done explicitly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as a predecessor Black Widow was active in the 1940s as a major enemy in Agent Carter.
  • Lighter and Softer: Waid & Samnee's run of the character seems to be heading in this direction, much like how they reinvented Daredevil into more of a swashbuckling figure after years of darker tones with the character.
  • Master of Disguise: One of her skills.
  • 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: Under the pen of certain artists, she's drawn with the Most Common Super Power and Impossible Hourglass Figure with a lot of Male Gaze. All of that while wearing a skin-tight black catsuit.
  • 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 Budapest 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 Hero Versus Younger Villain: Has this dynamic with Yelena Belova. Natasha is around 80 years old thanks to the serum that slowed down her aging and is far more experienced than the younger Yelena. Natasha even sometimes refers to Yelena as "little one".
  • Older Than They Look: Thanks to a mysterious Soviet chemical, she’s around 80 years old and still looks fabulous.
  • Overt Operative: Natasha has been a member of two very public superhero teams (the Champions and the Avengers), wears a very distinct Spy Catsuit (which doesn't come with a mask) and has a tendency to reveal who she is on her missions (assuming the people she's interacting with aren't already aware of who she is). She has been the subject of at least two nationwide manhunts and a limited series by Devin Grayson features a scene that shows a gossip magazine with Natasha and Daredevil's break up on the cover - even her love life is a matter of public knowledge.
  • Pretty in Mink: To play up her Russian femme fatale look, she has worn some flattering furs, from a brown mink stole in her very first appearance in Iron Man, and a white mink coat and hat, over a slinky purple dress, in a mid-90s issue.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Mandrill had Natasha and other women completely under his control using his powers. Making them love him. Natasha was forced to give out Daredevil’s secret identity. But it wasn’t the only thing she gave Mandrill.
  • Real Life Superpowers: Her beauty, intelligence, and fighting skills are legendary.
  • Really Gets Around: She has been accused of this time and again, though the actual number is not that large. Also notable that her many conquests include such notorious womanizers as Iron Man, Hercules, Daredevil, and Hawkeye, as well as Bucky Barnes, the fifth Captain America.
  • Retcon: Started out with black hair and was only "revealed" as actually a redhead in her ASM #86 makeover.
  • Rogues Gallery: Damon Dran, Iron Maiden, Ex-husband Red Guardian, ex-mentor Ivan Petrovich, rival red room member Yelena Belova, Snapdragon, Mandrill, Viper, Imus Champion, Black Lotus and Bullseye.
  • Sensual Slavs: She is a Russian Femme Fatale. Certain writers really play up the Russian-ness in combination with sensuality and take it to some really stereotypical and creepy places! Rule of thumb: if she's being written with a Russian accent, she's usually being written as fanservice.
  • Sneaky Spider: She is named for the famous spider and has weaponry themed around it. She fittingly started out a manipulative Femme Fatale Spy.
  • Spy Catsuit: Has been rocking one for 40 years and counting.
  • She's Got Legs: Most of her outfits, from costumes to regular clothes, show off her legs in some way.
  • Stealth Expert: One of her skills is how to sneak around.
  • The Stoic: Natasha's usual demeanour in recent years is one of chilly professionalism.
  • Super Soldier: Received a mysterious formula from her Soviet masters that was shown to slow her aging. Some writers have implied that it also was responsible for placing her in peak human condition or gave vague enhancements to her strength and speed.
  • Super Wrist-Gadget: Natasha's gauntlets can fire grappling hooks, knock-out drugs, stun gun charges, explosives, and tracking devices. They were inspired by Spidey's web shooters in-universe (and doubtless out of universe as well).
  • Too Kinky to Torture: She once ended up Bound and Gagged after Deadpool captured the Secret Avengers. After freeing her, Deadpool remarked that she seemed to be enjoying herself while tied up. Widow's response? "A little, yes."
  • Underestimating Badassery: Natasha runs into this from time to time. There are adversaries who dismiss her for being a woman, lacking in super powers or who just don't think the Black Widow was anything other than a Cold War myth. In issue 3 of Black Widow and the Marvel Girls she says that she prefers when people underestimate her and fears that anyone knowing her full potential robs her of a disadvantage.
  • 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!
    • Yelena Belova gave one to Natasha in Greg Rucka and Devin Grayson's Black Widow miniseries. The story has Natasha subject herself and Yelena to Magic Plastic Surgery to make them look like each other and frame Yelena for Natasha's (false) murder. While the secondary plan involved capturing Yelena's corrupt superior, Natasha's true goal was to make Yelena see how cruel and harsh the life of an espionage agent was. Yelena is furious with Natasha's mind games but given that she eventually did retire from the spy life (for a while at least) it seems the plan did work.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report