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Comicbook / Black Widow

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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.


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. Despite her popularity among audiences, the powers that be (i.e. Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige) has yet to officially greenlight a solo Black Widow movie. As of January 2018, Jac Schaeffer (Olaf's Frozen Adventure, TiMER) has been tapped to write a film featuring the character and in July Cate Shortland was announced as the director. Release date is yet to be announced.




  • 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)


Video Games

Western Animation

She provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Than They Look: Thanks to a mysterious Soviet chemical, she’s around 80 years old and still looks fabulous.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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!