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Her world. Her secrets. Her legacy.note 
"We have unfinished business."
Black Widow
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Black Widow is a superhero spy thriller film directed by Cate Shortland and written by Jac Schaeffer & Ned Benson, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. It is the 24th theatrical film and the 27th overall entry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the fourth installment of Phase 4.

Set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, its story follows Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, still on the run for helping Steve Rogers’ team, as she’s summoned back to Budapest by Yelena Belova, her former “sister” from the Red Room, the mysterious Russian program that trained them, who needs Natasha’s help in freeing their fellow Black Widows from the control of the Red Room’s commander, General Dreykov. Along the way, as they reunite with their other “family” members, former Soviet superhero Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian, and fellow seasoned spy Melina Vostokoff, they must also contend with Dreykov’s ultimate weapon, the deadly operative known as Taskmaster.

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The film stars Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov, and Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff. Other cast members include O-T Fagbenle as Rick Mason, William Hurt as Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, and Ray Winstone as General Dreykov. Olga Kurylenko also plays an important role in the film.

The film was released simultaneously in theaters and through Disney+ Premier Access on July 9, 2021. The film became available to all Disney+ subscribers on October 6, 2021.

Previews: Teaser, "Special Look", "Big Game" Spot, "Final" Trailer, April 2021 Trailer


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Black Widow provides examples of:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: At the start of the movie, Natasha appears to be about to retire from the superhero world and vanish into obscurity. This lasts about a day, and then Taskmaster blows up her car while she's heading into town on a routine errand in an effort to steal a package Yelena sent her (that Nat hadn't even opened, or even intended to open).
  • 20 Minutes into the Past: The film was released in 2021, but the main narrative explicitly takes place in 2016 after the events of Civil War. Steve and Natasha are the only ones left still on the run for violating the Sokovia Accords. At one point, a radio can be heard playing Sia's "Cheap Thrills", which was released in 2016 and was one of the top-performing songs that year.
  • Actor IS the Title Character: The trailer has "Scarlett Johansson is Black Widow".
  • Adaptational Heroism: Melina Vostokoff and Red Guardian, both villains in the comics, are Natasha's fiercely protective adoptive parents in the film, and they aid her on her mission.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole:
    • The below-mentioned Artistic License – Medicine problem is in-part only because the film changes the full details of what the Red Room did to Natasha. In the comics, Natasha and the other Widows received Super Soldier enhancements that augmented their biology, and the sterilization is the result of the change in biology rendering them unable to support having children, rather than a hysterectomy, thus why they're able to achieve Charles Atlas Superpower levels of fitness despite the immense disadvantage such a procedure would cause.
    • Taskmaster's sword skills in the film are unexplained. There's nobody in the MCU by that point, chronologically speaking, who was introduced with sword skills that Taskmaster could have copied those abilities from (Clint Barton becoming Ronin hadn't happened by the time the film was set in, while Gamora and Valkyrie aren't yet on Earth). There's also the fact that swords are Awesome, yet Impractical, something that the comic version wouldn't care about because Rule of Cool, but stands out as an out-of-character tactic for how Taskmaster is portrayed in the film.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Taskmaster's name is changed from Anthony Masters to Antonia Dreykov.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
    • Natasha and Yelena never trained together in the comics, as Natasha is several decades older than Yelena; Yelena was also intended to be Natasha's Superior Successor, but ended up as an Evil Counterpart to Natasha. Here, they were reared as sisters for a few years, trained at the Red Room in the same timeframe, and are ultimately allies.
    • Melina Vostokoff, known as Iron Maiden, and Red Guardian were villains in the comics, with very antagonistic relationships with Natasha. Melina was defined by living in Natasha's shadow and jealous for it, and Red Guardian was even Natasha's husband at one time! Here, partly to account for Natasha being aged down significantly, they are much older than her and not antagonists. Instead, they're parental figures who reared Natasha and Yelena as children, and still love them as their own daughters now.
    • In the comic books, Taskmaster has no personal connection to Black Widow or the Red Room program, with her role in the movie being more traditionally associated with the Winter Soldier. This version of Taskmaster's origin is intimately tied to Natasha's morally dubious past.
  • Advertised Extra:
    • O. T. Fagbenle was heavily promoted, even getting his own character poster. In the film proper, he's only in three brief scenes.
    • William Hurt's presence was also heavily marketed, but Thunderbolt Ross only appears at the start and end of the film. He never even comes face-to-face with any of the other characters.
  • Air-Vent Passageway:
    • Subverted in one case where Natasha drags Yelena into an air vent to get away from Taskmaster, but instead of using it as a passageway, it's a hiding space where they wait until Taskmaster is gone. Natasha knew that the space was there because she and Hawkeye spent two days in that exact spot during their Budapest mission.
    • However, played straight in the climax where Melina has to use a vent to escape the impromptu prison that Dreykov made while she tried to land the Red Room station.
  • All Periods Are PMS: Yelena irritatedly punches Alexei when they're aboard the helicopter escaping the prison. He jokingly asks if she's on her period. Yelena flips the remark on him by telling him Black Widows don't get periods and going into detail about how their reproductive organs get yanked out.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Taskmaster is able to reproduce the abilities of all the Avengers whose abilities don't come from true superpowers or very exotic tech. This means that fighting Taskmaster is like fighting a combination of Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Black Panther (the Taskmaster suit has a bow, a shield, and claws, though not vibranium).
  • Amazon Brigade: The Red Room has produced a small army of brainwashed Black Widow agents under the control of Dreykov. Unlike Natasha, who is primarily a spy, they are more shown to be an elite fighting squad that operates in concert with guns blazing. During their confrontation, Dreykov reveals to Natasha that he has hundreds of Black Widows all over the world, to Natasha's horror. After Dreykov's death, Natasha gives Yelena the database so she can free these other girls.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Though not actually their parents, Yelena and Natasha react with bemused annoyance when Alexi manages to cram himself back into his old Red Guardian suit and Melina wolf-calls in response.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Taskmaster is almost non-verbal and is noticeably much more stoic compared to even the new generation of Widows. There's the implication of autism (which, in the comics, Taskmaster is sometimes coded as), or brain damage from the bombing that apparently tore off most of her face.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Alexei may or may not be an Unreliable Narrator:
  • And I Must Scream: Yelena's description of what it's like for the Widows to be under the influence of the Red Room's mind control serum. They're fully conscious and aware of what's happening, but the serum keeps their perceptions clouded just enough that they are unable to distinguish which thoughts going through their heads are their own and which are orders from Dreykov. Once Taskmaster is freed with the antidote, her only words are "Is he gone? Is he gone?" with a look of incredible relief on her face.
  • And Starring: With William Hurt, with Ray Winstone, and Rachel Weisz.
  • Are We There Yet?: Yelena asks Alexei this while they and Natasha walk to Melina's farm, which is further evidence of her being the youngest child in the family. He says she will know when they arrive.
  • The Artifact: In the comics Taskmaster's sword skills come from imitating Black Knight, who has yet to appear in the MCU.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Smashing your nose doesn't sever your olfactory nerves or impair your sense of smell in any way. Nostrils full of blood aren't that much of a deterrent. And the whole "mind-control pheromones" business is also wrong.
  • Artistic License – Geography: St. Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia, a major transport hub and a UNESCO site, with both the city and its outskirts teeming with locals and tourists. Placing Melina's secret research facility in its vicinity is highly implausible.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Yelena and Natasha casually mention to Alexei that their entire reproductive systems right down to the ovaries were removed as part of becoming Black Widows. Surgically removing ovaries causes premature menopause due to lack of estrogen, which has several negative health effects including reduced bone density and mood swings. Not the best thing for an assassin, unless the Red Room had them regularly taking hormone supplements.
  • Artistic Title: The opening montage shows Natasha and Yelena as they and some other little girls are kidnapped, mind-controlled, and trained to become Black Widows, with some scenes of 20th century cartoons (one of them being the intro to Disney's own DuckTales (1987)), fake home movies, and news reports interspersed throughout the process, set to a macabre cover of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Think Up Anger.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign:
    • Melina Vostokoff joins Natasha Romanoff with another masculine and improperly Anglicized surname. Her actual last name would be Vostokova. Also, "Melina" is not a Russian name by any means.
    • Dreykov is not a real Russian surname and it has no discernible origin as per Russian naming conventions.
    • Antonia Dreykov also suffers from having a masculine version of the surname, and "Antonia" is a very uncommon first name in Russia.
    • Yelena Belova is a normal feminine Russian name. However, her first name would normally be shortened to "Lena" by people on a First-Name Basis with her.
  • The Atoner: Natasha must come to term with her past failures, which are represented by the characters that she comes across. She never went looking for her sister Yelena, hurting the latter deeply. She did not successfully kill Dreykov, instead making it easier for him to remain in the shadows with greater control over the Red Room and the Widows. And her attempt to use Antonia Dreykov to kill Dreykov wound up creating the tortured antagonist of Taskmaster. She attempts to rectify all of these mistakes by making it up to Yelena, killing Dreykov, and freeing Taskmaster from his control.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: Taskmaster chases the heroes through Budapest with one.
  • Badass Family: Once they got their act together, Natasha, Yelena, Alexei and Melina manage to take down Dreykov and destroy his operation in a matter of hours.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • Natasha takes a a lot of physical abuse over the course of the film, and even deliberately breaks her own nose at one point. None of these incidents leaves any kind of lasting mark upon her, and even her broken nose heals up completely seamlessly in the span of a few scenes after she resets it. Played with a bit in that we see plenty of bruises and other marks below the neck.
    • Also, Alexei takes quite a beating too, but doesn't get any uglier than he already was.
  • Becoming the Mask: Even though everyone in Natasha's Ohio "family" knew they were on a mission, they still felt like it was real, at least at the time.
  • Been There, Shaped History: The intro montage shows Dreykov meeting with Boris Yeltsin, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Condoleezza Rice, and Vladimir Putin, and indicates the involvement of the Red Room in a number of geopolitical conflicts.
  • Bewildering Punishment: Dreykov had his friend Alexei imprisoned for life after years of collaboration, and Alexei has no idea why. A throwaway line about "the Party" does imply it might have been for political criticism, but he seems to think it could just as easily have been personal.
  • Big Bad: Dreykov is the head of the Red Room, the organization that captured and trained Natasha, Yelena, and Melina, and whom the "family" tries to take down throughout the film.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Natasha is getting mobbed by every Black Widow still under control when Yelena enters with the mind-control-removing serum tied to a flashbang and tosses it into the crowd. Instantly, the Widows stop trying to kill Natasha and take stock of their situation.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Natasha, Yelena, Melina, and Alexei were only a "family" for three years as a deep cover American family so that Alexei and Melina could steal government secrets from HYDRA, and the girls were merely supposed to be recruits for the Red Room after the mission was completed. Despite this, and despite Melina and Alexei still seeing their mission and sending their "daughters" into slavery as noble, 20 years later Nat and Yelena still consider their fake family as still "real" to them, and Melina and Alexei feel the same way.
  • Biker Babe: Apparently the Black Widow program involves motorcycle training — one of the Widows after Yelena and Natasha is on a bike, and they only get away because Yelena had gotten her own bike beforehand (though Natasha jacks the keys).
  • Bilingual Bonus: Alexei has his two "daughters"' names tattooed on his right arm in Cyrillic, showing they were more than a fake family for him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: By the end, Natasha, Yelena, Alexei, and Melina manage to reconcile and fully accept each other as a family while taking down Dreykov and the Black Widow program for good, freeing many of its brainwashed agents in the process, with the latter three setting out to free the hundreds of remaining agents across the planet. However, Natasha remains on the run, and her victory is short-lived because of the Blip wiping out half of all life across the universe, which had likely included Alexei, Yelena, and Melina among its victims. Given that all that paved the way for her Heroic Sacrifice in Endgame, this was likely the last time that Nat ever saw her family. Things go From Bad to Worse as, when Yelena visits Nat's grave, she is approached by Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine, who gives her the task of hunting down Hawkeye while claiming he's the one responsible for Nat's death.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: Taskmaster's shield manages to follow Natasha and Yelena down an escalator in a way that's ridiculous even by Captain America's standards, especially since it's not explicitly stated to be made out of Applied Phlebotinum like Vibranium.
  • Blade Brake:
    • When Natasha is sliding down the rapidly tilting floor in the crashing Red Room, she jams the blades of both her kama into the metal floor to arrest her slide.
    • Taskmaster does something similar with a sword during the climactic Freefall Fight.
  • Blatant Lies: Downplayed. Alexei is introduced telling his fellow inmates in prison a story where he fought and defeated Captain America. However, his time as the Red Guardian would have had to have been before 1991 (the year the Soviet Union collapsed), long after Rogers went into the ice and long before he was unearthed in the 2010s. When one of the inmates points this out, Alexei breaks his wrist. On the other hand, there are numerous ways this claim could turn out to actually be true: Alexei never specified what Captain America he was talking about, and it is possible that he fought a Captain America that wasn't Steve Rogers; it's also possible he fought the real Steve Rogers after all, whom we know to have access to Time Travel.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three main women, Natasha (red), Yelena (blonde), and Melina (brunette). Most of the other Widows are brunettes to make the first two stand out even more.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: This is one of the most violent and brutal MCU films, as we get to see multiple broken limbs and people getting gutted.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Subverted. The denouement of Natasha's mission to destroy the Red Room ends with her choosing to Hold the Line so her adoptive family and the reprogrammed Widows get to escape, while Ross and the Sokovia Accords-affiliated forces surround her to apprehend her. We are just given a quick Fade to Black transitioning to a few weeks later, Natasha no worse for wear and already looking like her getup in Avengers: Infinity War, about to rendezvous with Steve and the other Secret Avengers.
  • Bookends:
    • During the flashback to Natasha's childhood, she and Yelena see fireflies. Some fireflies show up again near the end of the movie.
    • In Natasha's childhood, she and Yelena are shown bending over backwards and looking at each other while they're upside-down. After Natasha finds Yelena on the ground after the destruction of the Red Room, she comments that they're upside-down once again.
    • Natasha is shown escaping from Ross at the beginning and end of the post-Civil War portion of the movie.
    • Natasha forcefully wakes Rick Mason up the first and last times she sees him.
    • At the beginning of the movie, Natasha insists to Yelena that Dreykov is dead, even though she Never Found the Body. At the end of the movie, Dreykov is caught in another explosion, but his body is never found.
  • Brainwash Residue: Hawkeye and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s psychological de-conditioning of Natasha missed one thing that Natasha herself didn't know about: she is physically unable to attack Dreykov if she can smell him.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Yelena comments on an incoming avalanche with "that would be a cool way to die". And then when she's strapped to an operating table about to go through brain surgery without anesthesia, she's quick to note "that won't be a cool way to die".
    • Natasha manages to swipe the keys to Yelena's motorcycle in the safe house. She does this again with Dreykov's ring, which is his authenticator for his computer.
    • Early in the film, Yelena jokingly mocks Natasha's signature three-point landing pose. Later at the Red Room facility, Yelena instinctively does the pose herself, and immediately reacts with disgust upon realizing that she just copied Natasha's Signature Move.
    • Mason's fake ID for Natasha bears the name "Fanny Longbottom", which she derides. In The Stinger, Yelena has a dog named Fanny.
    • Natasha tried to goad Yelena into joining her in finding the Red Room, claiming that it "could be fun." At the cimax of the movie, Yelena about to make a Heroic Sacrifice yells back at her "it was fun!"
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Dreykov doesn't remember Natasha's real mother's name. When pressed, all he can recall is the location they buried her, with a makeshift headstone marked "Unknown".
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Erik Mason is treated as one by Natasha, he's often caught sleeping by Natasha. The alias he proposes is met with criticism (Fanny Longbottom), and he's never satisfying Natasha's demands (an old helicopter instead of a jet and a generator that craps out after only six hours). He's also being watched by Ross's army, much to his annoyance. Even Yelena gets in on the act. Subverted in the end where he gets the time he demands and rewards Natasha with a quinjet.
    • Alexei is a super soldier and fancies himself a counterpart of Captain America, but has to get broken out of prison, is never let in on the gang's plans, and gets his ass utterly handed to him by Taskmaster, although he does last an impressively long time while getting his butt kicked.
  • Call-Back:
    • Alexei's reunion speech to his "daughters" incorporates the same ledger-dripping-with-red metaphor Natasha and Loki discussed during her 2012 interrogation of him. Even more fittingly, that talk with Loki is the first we heard of Dreykov's daughter.
    • After they reunite, Yelena mentions that she's always thought about getting a dog. She has one in The Stinger, set after the events of Endgame.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Early in the film, one of the supplies that Natasha buys is blonde hair dye, foreshadowing her bleached blonde look during Infinity War. We see her sporting her look from that film in the final scene.
    • Yelena buys a green sleeveless vest and wears it for most of the film, with Natasha even complimenting her for it. Yelena gives it to Natasha before they go their separate ways, revealing that this is the same vest that Natasha wears during the events of Avengers: Infinity War.
  • The Cameo:
    • Valentina Allegra de Fontaine appears in the post-credits scene, telling Yelena Belova to hunt down Hawkeye for his role in the death of Natasha.
    • Hawkeye does not appear in flashbacks to Natasha's time in Budapest, but his voice can be heard on the phone.
  • Canon Character All Along: Part of the backstory established in this film is that many years ago, Natasha killed a young girl named Antonia while trying to get to Dreykov, the child's father. The film's third act reveals that Antonia actually survived the explosion and was subsequently rebuilt as a cyborg assassin with the ability to copy the fighting styles of others, making her a Gender Flipped version of Anthony Masters, a.k.a. Taskmaster.
  • Captain Patriotic: Red Guardian, much like in the comics, wears a costume similar to Captain America, but adorned in the colors and iconography of the USSR instead. Justified as Alexei was the Soviet Union's first and only successful super-soldier, who was created specifically to fill the geopolitical void left behind by Steve Rogers after his disappearance in WW2.
  • Car Fu: Yelena uses the car that she and Natasha are in to take out the Widow chasing them by grabbing the wheel from Natasha, swinging it around into reverse, and kicking her door off its hinges at the perfect angle to knock the enemy Widow's motorcycle out from under her.
  • Casting Gag: This wouldn't be David Harbour's first time playing the adoptive father of a girl (or girls, in this case) who was raised to be a living weapon in a top secret facility.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Frequently, since the family members are used to being in dangerous situations.
    • Happens as Yelena and Natasha are being chased by Taskmaster and some Widows.
      Yelena: Okay, you got a plan or should I just stay ducked and covered?
      Natasha: My plan was to drive us away!
      Yelena: ...That's a shit plan! [removes the motorcycle-riding Widow behind them from the equation via Car Fu] You're welcome.
    • During their infiltration of the Red Room:
      Melina: Yelena, slight change of plan. I completely demolished one of the engines, and we are going into a controlled crash.
      Yelena: Fantastic.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: Part of Natasha's plan to destroy the Red Room is to activate a tracking beacon that she knows that Ross's people are looking for, so they'll send troops to arrest her and take down Dreykov in the process. She and her family end up destroying the entire facility before Ross gets there.
  • Character Development: This film is set a few days after the Avengers break up in Captain America: Civil War. Natasha tells Mason that she is better when she works alone and intends to vanish into obscurity by living in a trailer in a remote area. Over the course of the next few days, she reconciles with her first surrogate family. After evading Ross, she tells Mason that she thought she had no family when she really had two, and she's ready to help out her second surrogate family.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Natasha's skills in deception are utilized very well:
    • Natasha tries to get Dreykov to punch her in the face hard enough to sever the olfactory nerve. When that fails (he's too physically weak), she smashes her nose on his desk and succeeds, blocking her sense of smell and allowing her to attack him.
    • She also manages to swipe Dreykov's ring off of him undetected to retrieve the locations of the field Widows.
    • During Natasha's confrontation with Dreykov, Dreykov has Taskmaster unmask herself. The camera shows her opening a panel on her right forearm and punching a button to show her face. After the destruction of the Red Room, Natasha is able to copy the action to expose Antonia's face and then break a vial of antidote in front of her.
  • Child Soldiers: While this was implied in previous installments, this film explicitly shows that the Widows are child soldiers: girls taken from their families at young ages and trained to become superspies.
  • Cloth Fu: During the fight between Natasha and Yelena in the Budapest safehouse, a curtain gets ripped down and used as a weapon. It ends up wrapped around both their necks with them choking each other before they call a truce.
  • Collapsing Lair: An airborne case, as the flying Red Room complex begins to break apart once Melina destroys one of the propellers keeping the place afloat.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Natasha, Yelena, and Melina all spend significant portions of the film in white versions of the Black Widow uniform, the better to distinguish them from the Red Room's assassins. Natasha returns to something approaching her signature look for the climax, however.
  • Company Cross References: The intro to DuckTalesnote  is seen on young Natasha's home television, and several monitors in the Red Room during the film's opening.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Natasha and Yelena fight to an impasse, but when Natasha fights a whole room full of Widows, she mows through a dozen of them before they finally overwhelm her. To be fair, the Widows that Natasha was fighting were ordered not to kill her quickly, and Natasha was equipped with the Widow's Bite bracers that the others lacked.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Yelena's criticism of Natasha's Three-Point Landings from past films such as Iron Man 2.
      Yelena: Poser.
    • "Thank you for your cooperation". Natasha uses these exact words after she tricks an enemy into unknowing giving her all the information she needs (Loki and Dreykov, The former in The Avengers).
    • Natasha has perfected the skill of extracting items from others like she did the thumb drive in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
    • She also used the electronic mask and wig trick (Hawley in The Winter Soldier) to fool Dreykov (or at least attempt to) by swapping herself with Melina. He eventually sees through it. It works well on Alexei, though.
    • The science behind the chemical brainwashing done on Yelena and several other Widows is inherited from the Winter Soldier research, first revealed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
    • Yelena's cover story claims that her sister is a "science teacher" (which Bruce Banner is qualified to be) with a "husband" who "renovates houses", nodding to Natasha's increased interaction with Banner and Casual Danger Dialogue with Hawkeye during Avengers: Age of Ultron (Hawkeye's actor Jeremy Renner actually does flip houses).
    • In The Avengers, Natasha is unnerved when Loki mentions many tragedies from her past, including "Dreykov's daughter". Dreykov himself appears as the main antagonist in this movie, played by Ray Winstone, and flashbacks show the event regarding his daughter, Antonia. Natasha allowed the girl to be blown up with her father as part of her defection to S.H.I.E.L.D. While it turns out that both survived, Antonia was permanently damaged from the explosion, and Dreykov had her forcibly programmed to become the Taskmaster.
    • In that same dialogue, Natasha mentions "I've got red in my ledger, I'd like to wipe it out." Alexei proudly speaks of how his two "daughters" turned into very capable killers who "caused many deaths, have plenty of red in their ledgers." Alexei even unwittingly quotes Loki directly when he notes Natasha's ledger must be "gushing red."
    • Also in The Avengers, Natasha tells Bruce Banner that she started as a spy even younger than the girl she got to lure him to their meeting. In this film, we have it confirmed.
    • In Age of Ultron, Natasha said that the Red Room took away her ability to have kids. When Yelena explains that situation to Alexei, she goes into much more detail about how the Widows' ovaries, uteruses, and fallopian tubes were removed.
    • This isn't the first time that people have been kidnapped and forcibly conditioned into becoming super-soldier spies, especially with them being aware the entire time of the horrible things they're doingand with a similar method of termination if they're determined to be a burden. There's an implication HYDRA stole this idea from Dreykov.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Natasha's attempt to kill Dreykov did not kill his daughter in the crossfire, as she thought. Dreykov took what was left of his daughter and turned her into Taskmaster. He also used the opportunity to fake his death and become even more powerful.
  • Darker and Edgier: What Black Panther did for racism, this movie does for misogyny. Specifically, it focuses on the inhumane treatment of young women by the Red Room. The girls are rounded up at a very young age, hauled into shipping containers and transported in poor conditions. Any girl that does not meet the requirements of the program is executed. Those that do are Mind Raped, robbed of their reproductive organs, and are forced to commit actions against their will — all while being aware of what they are doing. The subjugation was initially done through psychological conditioning. In this movie, it is done chemically. Those who attempt to escape are hunted down and killed by the widows and ultimately the Taskmaster. The Taskmaster is also brainwashed and is the daughter of the Red Room's leader who was collateral damage in Natasha's first attempt to kill said leader.
  • A Day in the Limelight: This is the first time Black Widow has gotten her own movie, after spending nearly ten years and nine movies guest-starring in other characters' movies and Avengers projects.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Variation. In the epilogue, which is set after Natasha's death in Endgame, Yelena has named her dog after Natasha's ostensible alias, Fanny.
  • Death of a Child: Natasha has killed a lot of people, but Dreykov's school-aged daughter Antonia being caught in the explosion that allegedly killed him still haunts her to this day.
  • Deep Cover Agent: The opening shows Alexei, Melina, Natasha, and Yelena posing as a civilian family in Ohio for three years while the "parents" are there to investigate a S.H.I.E.L.D./HYDRA facility.
  • Deprogram: A former Black Widow has engineered a gaseous substance that releases them from the Red Room's mind control. Natasha and her "family" infiltrate the Red Room to free the Black Widows there of their brainwashing using a handful of vials of antidote.
  • Digital Deaging:
    • This technique is used during the opening flashback, set in 1995, to make David Harbour and Rachel Weisz look younger.
    • The same technique was applied to William Hurt for the scenes he's in, even if for a smaller gap (the film is set 3 years before its filming date).
    • Lastly, Scarlett Johannsen was de-aged for the scene where she's stalking Antonia in order to confirm Dreykov so she and Clint can kill him.
  • Disposable Woman: Invoked, and mixed in with a dash of Monster Misogyny: part of Dreykov's motivation for using girls as part of his program is because, in his words, girls are the only natural resource Earth has too much of. Also inverted in that Dreykov has bodyguards that are exclusively male and aren't even allowed faces, presumably just so the Natasha and Yelena can carve through them like wheat.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Alexei believes that his time in prison was an overreaction on Dreykov's part. The reason for his imprisonment is never specified, though Alexei thinks it may have been because he accidentally insulted Dreykov's haircut.
  • Distaff Counterpart: In practice, the modern Red Room (as Dreykov runs it) serves as both this and a Foil to the HYDRA Winter Soldier squad revealed in Captain America: Civil War, in that both are criminal enterprises capable of "making empires rise and fall" by serving the interests of The Man Behind the Man. Where they differ, of course, is that while the Winter Soldier program relied on Quality over Quantity by making Lightning Bruiser Super Soldiers of all sexes (which also failed, due to the psychological instabilities caused by the derivative Super Serum), the Red Room went the other route by training a larger host of Badass Normal women into Double Agents through years of indoctrination, biological and mental programming, plus Training from Hell.
  • Ditto Fighter: Taskmaster, as in the comics, has the ability to perfectly mimic the fighting styles of others, with several characters comparing it to fighting against a mirror. First seen watching footage of the Avengers' airport battle before being sent after Natasha, Taskmaster copies several Avengers throughout the film including Captain America (with a bulletproof shield that can be thrown as a projectile), Black Panther (gloves with built-in retractable claws, certain acrobatic fighting) Hawkeye (using a high-tech bow that fires an explosive Trick Arrow), the Winter Soldier (doing Bucky's signature knife flip), and even Natasha herself.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The entire concept of the Red Room, where young girls are abducted and groomed into passive objects against their will, has blatant parallels to human trafficking, particularly in sexual abuse networks. The film's opening credits show a montage of Natasha, Yelena and many other girls being taken from their families and transported en masse in large shipping containers. The girls are all filthy, terrified and screaming as armed men drag them out and line them up for inspection, exactly like real cases of kidnapped children being sold into slavery.
    • This opening montage also shows Dreykov, the master of the Red Room, interacting with various world leaders over the decades, including Bill Clinton. The film indicates that his relationships with these politicians have allowed Dreykov to use bribery and blackmail to avoid accountability for his crimes, much like many real-life sex offenders such as Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein.
    • When Dreykov brings Melina, actually Natasha in disguise, to his office, he forcefully sits her down and gloats about his power over her, even tugging on her hair and causing her visible pain like an abusive spouse. When Natasha reveals herself, Dreykov continues to brag that she can't stop him, as his power and position allows him to do whatever he wants, and the abuse metaphor switches to an abusive father instead.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The film is indeed, centrally, about the Black Widow we have been following in the MCU the entire time, Natasha. At the same time, much like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier deconstructing and reconstructing what the role of "Captain America" means, the film takes stock what the institution of the Black Widow means within the MCU: a misguided system that exploits women for the benefit of masculine institutions (be it the Soviet state or Dreykov's agenda), but nonetheless produced people who can be heroes despite their trauma. Equal screentime is given to other fellow Black Widows who played a major part in her life, Yelena and Melina. Furthermore, the main conflict of the film is liberating the other brainwashed female agents (the other Red Room Black Widows and Taskmaster).
  • The Dreaded: The Avengers. Yelena tells Natasha that being an Avenger is why Dreykov didn't seek revenge on her. He was afraid that the rest of the team would retaliate. Natasha coming alone with the antidotes was why Yelena was so upset, her intent was for Nat to bring all the Avengers against the Red Room.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Set up, but notably averted when Yelena shoves her baton into the engine of Dreykov's plane to destroy it, yelling "This was fun!" We know that Yelena doesn't appear in films occurring after this one, and Natasha even yells "Don't do it!" and "No!" It has all the hallmarks of a Heroic Sacrifice, but Natasha makes to save Yelena after the explosion blows her off the plane into a free-fall.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Natasha and her family have issues, both personally and with each other. Alexei is the most benign one as a sore washed-out disillusioned former Soviet hero, but Natasha, Yelena and Melina have been until recently mind-controlled assassins with a lot of angst about being abandoned by their family, going through the Red Room and all the various murders they've had to commit during their lives.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Inverted. The Red Room complex is a huge airborne base hidden among the clouds. This is how Dreykov has managed to stay off everyone's radar for years.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: The opening credits show Natasha, Yelena and other young girls selected to be part of the Black Widow programme being dragged out of a shipping container by General Dreykov's Faceless Goons. Several are clutching stuffed toys which get dropped and are shown lying in the stagnant water on the warehouse floor.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: The two guards in the mail room in the Russian prison mockingly eat a cake one of Alexei's fans had sent him when Alexei comes to collect his mail. They even tell him to tell his fans to use more butter next time. They soon regret this.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The active Widows, young women brainwashed by the Red Room into superspies, are racially diverse; Dreykov claims he takes unwanted girls from all over the world.
  • Establishing Character Moment: For Taskmaster, the first time she faces off against Natasha. Not only does she throw a shield like Captain America, but when Nat tries her trademark takedown, Taskmaster not only no sells it, she turns it around and uses it on Natasha.
  • Evil Gloating: Exploited. Natasha manipulates Dreykov into showing the full scale of his operation by riling him up and calling him a pathetic coward hiding in the shadows. It only allows her to know how to break into Dreykov's computer and to download the data about the whereabouts of all the widows.
  • Exact Words:
    • The mooks cornering Melina above the engine tell her to "drop to the ground". Melina responds "Precisely what I was thinking" before shooting the engine and demolishing it, causing the station to go into a controlled crash.
    • During The Stinger, Valentina gives Yelena the task of hunting down "the man responsible for [her] sister's death", Hawkeye. As viewers of Avengers: Endgame know, Clint's only "responsibility" (in a very, very loose interpretation of the term) for her death lay in losing the More Hero Than Thou scuffle with her.
  • The Faceless: Taskmaster's face is hidden underneath a mask for most of the film. Dreykov orders a Dramatic Unmask right when it would be most impactful on Natasha.
  • Faceless Goons:
    • In the opening flashback, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who try and stop Natasha's "family" are all portrayed as faceless, shadowy figures. Turns out they're actually HYDRA-S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • The Red Room soldiers are all portrayed this way, except for the Widows.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Red Guardian keeps trying — and failing — to give dramatic heart-to-heart speeches. He succeeds, once, when he stops trying to act dramatic and just acts normal by sharing a song with Yelena. He eventually gives up, presumably because he realizes it's not his name on the posters.
  • Fakeout Escape: In the subway in Budapest, Natasha and Yelena leave a Trail of Blood to make Taskmaster think they have escaped into the service tunnels under the station while they really hide in the crawlspace in the ceiling.
  • Family of Choice: Natasha chose to make the Avengers her family, but over the course of this film admits to herself that she and the rest of the Ohio team had formed a similar relationship. This includes acknowledging Yelena as her little sister.
  • Fanservice: Natasha changing shirts is lingered over a little. The fanservice aspect is somewhat averted by the sight of her recent bruises.
  • Fauxshadowing: The line "This'll be the day that I die," is sung by both Yelena and Alexei, whom the narrative comes closest to killing off: Alexei being shot or almost shot and Yelena very nearly blowing herself up along with Dreykov. They end up fine, but the narrative places a lot of emphasis on the line both times.
  • Fearful Symmetry:
    • Once Natasha goes to see Yelena in Budapest, both behave the same because they have shared skills. Both come out of a corner at the same time, guns pointing toward each other, then ensues a scene where both women use the same moves until Yelena grabs a knife.
    • Natasha comes out of a crashed car and attacks Taskmaster. When both land on the ground, they're doing the exact pose.
  • Feminist Fantasy: Every single woman with any amount of screentime in the movie is a beautiful and total badass, contrasted by just three male characters — the Big Bad, a Dumb Muscle Butt-Monkey, and Natasha's Friend in the Black Market sidekick.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: After Taskmaster crashes Natasha's car, causing it to teeter at the edge of a bridge, Natasha gets out of the car through the back window looking around for her assailant. The vehicle stops leaning over the bridge despite Natasha not being in it. Seconds later, it's shown that Taskmaster had landed atop it and was the weight keeping it down.
  • Flashback: The film begins with a flashback to Natasha's childhood, revealing that she and Yelena were reared in Ohio with Melina and Alexei as their parents. In 1995, they escaped from S.H.I.E.L.D. and took a plane to Cuba, where the girls were both taken by Dreykov to the Red Room.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Anyone who has watched Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame will already know that Natasha will survive the events of this film. This means the question is not "if" but "how".
  • Foreshadowing: ​When we see Melina’s room, there are wigs and some Photostatic Veils. When Dreykov's forces arrive to take everyone, shots of the room show those wigs and veils have disappeared.
  • Formerly Fit: Alexei struggles to put on his Red Guardian outfit, having not worn it for decades. Melina points out that he's gained some weight over the years, though she still finds him handsome.
  • Free-Fall Fight: As a result of the Red Room aerial complex being destroyed, Natasha and Taskmaster fall towards the ground while dodging debris and seeking parachutes.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Evil genius Dreykov wears rather thick horn-rimmed glasses, reminiscent of Henry Kissinger (probably deliberately so).
  • Friend in the Black Market: Rick Mason procures resources and transportation for Natasha while she's on the run post-Civil War. The quality of the resources is directly proportional to the time and money he's given to acquire them.
  • From Dress to Dressing: Following the car crash in Budapest, Yelena uses her coat to bandage her injured arm till she can get proper bandages.
  • Fugitive Arc: The film is set between Civil War and Infinity War, where Natasha and the other Secret Avengers became fugitives for opposing the United Nation's Super Registration Act. Similarly, the movie opens as Natasha tries to evade capture by Ross.
  • Funny Background Event: While Alexei is telling other prisoners about his adventures as Red Guardian, the tattoo artist behind him, having heard them over and over, can be seen mouthing along.
  • Gender Flip: Taskmaster, a man known as Anthony Masters in the comics, is female and named Antonia Dreykov in the film.
  • Gilligan Cut: At least two:
    • When Natasha and Yelena agree to rescue Alexei from the prison, Natasha realizes and says "we're gonna need a jet". Cut to meeting Mason — "I said we needed a jet" when faced with a helicopter.
    • Alexei insists that the heavily damaged helicopter can still make it to St. Petersburg. The film immediately cuts to the helicopter dropping out of the sky, forcing Alexei, Natasha and Yelena to get out and hike the rest of the way to Melina's place.
  • Glory Days: Alexei reminisces about the old days where he performed superheroics as the Red Guardian and was shown similar reverence that Steve Rogers got as Captain America. In comparison, posing as a father in Ohio was extremely boring.
  • A Good Way to Die: Yelena first thinks it would be a cool way to die when an avalanche threatens to kill her while she's busy breaking out Alexei. The second time, she's about to have her brains cut out and thinks the opposite.
  • Got Me Doing It: After twice mocking Natasha's flashy Three-Point Landing, Yelena does one herself while infiltrating the Red Room, prompting a grumbled, "Ugh, that was disgusting..." afterward.
  • Gun Kata: A training montage of black widows in the red room complete with each one wielding a gun.
  • Hair Flip: Natasha sometimes does a flip of her hair after her Three-Point Landing. Yelena mocks the landing for being showy and specifically calls out the hair flip by mimicking Natasha a few times.
  • Hair-Trigger Avalanche: The prison where Alexei has been held is surrounded by snowy cliffs, but it's never been a problem for them despite having assault rifles and heavy machine guns at their disposal... until Yelena brings a rocket launcher.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Dreykov is an egomaniacal, abusive Control Freak who treats people like his personal playthings and discards them when they're no longer of use to him. Not even his own daughter is safe from this. All of this, combined with his lack of redeemable qualities and his problematic view of women make him a very unlikeable person and his death is that much more satisfying.
    • Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine, who noisily interrupts an emotional post-credits scene and then blames Clint Barton, Natasha's close friend, for her death, assigning his assassination to Yelena.
  • Headbutt of Love: Natasha does this to Antonia after activating the gas to free her from her conditioning. Once she's sure Antonia is free Natasha does it again as they lie on the ground. She also does it to Yelena after they escape Dreykov's ship and Natasha admits that their time as a family was real to her too.
  • Head Desk: Natasha's method of severing the nerve to prevent the scent of the pheromone preventing her from attacking Dreykov is to slam her head hard on his desk targeting the nose, breaking it.
  • Heal It with Booze: When they stop to patch up their wounds outside Budapest, Yelena uses a miniature bottle of vodka to clean the gash on her arm before she bandages it.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: During the climax, Yelena jams her baton into the jet that Dreykov tries to escape in, and the resulting explosion throws her off the base, but she survives thanks to Natasha's mid-air rescue.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: While fleeing Taskmaster on the streets of Budapest, Yelena steals a man's car at gunpoint. Natasha protests the theft as both climb in and drive away, to which Yelena snarks, "What, you want me to chase him down and un-steal it?"
  • High-Dive Escape: When attacked in Norway, Natasha uses the impetus of Taskmaster's punch to carry her (and the antidote) off the bridge and into the river.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard:
    • Dreykov loses because of Nat's deception skills. The same ones he gave her. And because of the bonds with her surrogate sleeper agent family. Guess who created that fake family in the first place?
    • In 1991, HYDRA sent the Super-Soldier Winter Soldier (who had links to Russians) to murder Howard Stark and steal his research, on top of their usual plan of infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. with sleeper agents. A year later, Russia sends sleeper agents to America to destroy and steal S.H.I.E.L.D. research. Turns out they actually stole from a HYDRA cell. Oh, and the person who did the dirty work? A Russian Super-Soldier.
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance:
    • Yelena assumed sending Natasha the vial of Red Mist would be enough to get her on the trail to bring the Red Room down. It's when they meet that Yelena realizes Natasha has no idea Dreykov has been alive all this time or that the Red Room still exists.
    • Alexei is honestly surprised Natasha and Yelena had no idea Melina was one of the top scientists for the Red Room.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Natasha and Antonia's final fight. Natasha tells her opponent that she believes there's still humanity in them before they battle.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: Oksana, the ex-Widow Yelena assassinates early in the film, frees her from the Black Widow conditioning, with her dying words being "free the others" — referring to the remaining antidotes she was carrying in her briefcase.
  • Indy Ploy: Yelena calls Natasha out for not having an escape plan more elaborate than "driving\running away", leading to some improvisation and a lot of injury.
    Yelena: Great plan! I loved the part where I almost bled to death!
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Natasha and Yelena both take shots of vodka when the newly reunited Alexei and Melina start openly flirting.
  • Innocently Insensitive:
    • Alexei expresses pride over Natasha and Yelena's deadly skills and numerous kills, unaware that they're angry at him for abandoning them and unaware of the misery they experienced in the Red Room and as Black Widows.
    • While talking over dinner, Alexei expresses how annoyed he was about the family's three-year undercover mission in Ohio because life as a fake American family was extremely boring. He's unaware that Yelena thought of the experience as real, since it was the only childhood she had, and she storms away.
    • Melina boasts of having created mind-controlled agents all over the world, and demonstrates the ability to make a mind-controlled pig stop breathing until dead if she so wishes, unaware that Yelena is one of those mind-controlled agents who could all too easily be given the same orders as the pig.
  • Instant Sedation:
    • Young Natasha and Yelena fall asleep immediately when they get sedated by two soldiers in Cuba.
    • Subverted at first when Alexei gets a Tranquillizer Dart to the chest, which he mocks since it'll take more than that to sedate a Super Soldier. But then he's hit by a dozen more in rapid succession and quickly goes down.
  • Interquel: This 2021 film takes place after Captain America: Civil War (2016), but also before the earlier released Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). Natasha wears her Civil War-era long red colored hairstyle for much of the film, until the very end, where she's sporting the bleached blonde hair and outfit from Infinity War and the start of Endgame.
  • Irony:
    • Natasha's greatest shame is how Dreykov's daughter was "collateral damage" in Nat's assassination attempt on Dreykov, which was her "buy-in" to S.H.I.E.L.D. Turns out the world's greatest assassin failed to kill either of them. In fact, she let him fake his death to become more powerful.
    • Dreykov is proud of how he's put Widows all over the world, in positions to manipulate powerful men. He says this while he's standing there with a Widow he brought into his base, who's manipulating him.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Natasha taunts Dreykov for being weak and cowardly, for not just working from the shadows but hiding in the dark, as part of her ploy to get her nose broken from a punch.
  • It Meant Something to Me: Non-romantic version during the dinner scene, as Melina and Natasha insist that their family wasn't real but Yelena, the youngest, says it was real to her. Natasha later confesses it was real to her too.
  • Jail Bake: Subverted. Natasha sends a package to Alexei, using baked sweets as distraction for the guards while an earpiece is hidden inside of a Red Guardian figure, which allows Alexei to know how he'll break out of prison.
  • Just Toying with Them: Alexei is seen arm-wrestling a string of opponents in prison, easily beating them aside from one he teasingly pretends might be a match for him. Then his last opponent makes the mistake of irritating Alexei, who shows how much he's holding back by effortlessly breaking the con's wrist.
  • Kill It with Fire: Indirectly done by Yelena as she uses her batons to blow up a helicopter engine and cause the craft Dreykov is on to explode, killing him and his guards.
  • Latex Perfection: Natasha's electronic mask is used once to infiltrate the Red Room complex and reach Dreykov as Natasha and Melina temporarily switch identities. It works for a time, but Dreykov then guesses that it is Natasha he's talking to.
  • Layman's Terms: After Yelena describes the anti-mind control red dust scientifically, Natasha asks Yelena for the English version. Yelena gives it to her... but using Russian.
    Natasha: [in Russian] Real mature.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: While buying supplies and food, Yelena makes fun of Natasha's Three-Point Landings, claiming that Natasha always acts like people are watching her. The fact that Yelena knows Natasha does it shows that she's not wrong.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Natasha and Yelena do not trust each other at first when meeting in the safe house and nearly kill each other, until Natasha calls a truce and Yelena agrees.
  • Like Mother, Like Daughter:
    • Humorously, both Melina and Yelena wield a grenade launcher to devastating effect at various times throughout the movie, even making a similar laugh after firing it.
    • During the fight between Alexei and Melina against Taskmaster, Melina is shown landing on the ground, posed in the same Three-Point Landing that Natasha often uses.
  • Logo Joke: The Marvel Studios logo sequence is mostly in monochrome this time around, which can easily be spotted during the first half of the sequence, as the characters that are given color throughout that part are then covered in a monochrome color scheme. The logo itself during the second half is also in monochrome (with the exception of the scenes played within the logo, which are still in their color schemes) until the end, where it's given back its red color scheme.
  • MacGuffin: The anti-brainwashing "red dust" potion marks the start of the movie's plot, and it is why Natasha gets involved in the plot. It is able to break Dreykov's chemically induced subjugation upon the widows. Yelena and Natasha protect it, while Dreykov, the widows and the Taskmaster seek to claim it.
  • Made of Iron: Some characters survive events that should badly injure normal humans, which Natasha and Yelena are, despite their Black Widow training. The only person in this movie with any kind of Super Toughness is Alexei.
    • Natasha falls off a chimney and hits everything on the side of a warehouse on the way down, and is still able to land on her feet and apprehend the Black Widow that's after her life.
    • Yelena survives the aircraft explosion that kills Dreykov and his goons with no visible injuries despite being right next to it.
  • Magical Security Camera: In a trailer scene that isn't in the film, Taskmaster is seen watching footage of Natasha's hallway scene from Iron Man 2, specifically footage from the film itself rather than the security cameras that Whiplash was watching (which were shown to record in black-and-white). In the film proper, Taskmaster watches overhead security footage of Clint and Natasha's standoff from Captain America: Civil War.
  • Male Gaze: More than a few shots have Natasha, Yelena, and Melina's asses in full focus. The characters are pretty much never seen without some kind of tight clothing hugging their butts, whether it be a spy suit or jeans. According to the director, this is intentional.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Natasha's real mother never stopped trying to get her daughter back, eventually becoming such a nuisance that she nearly exposed the Red Room. Sadly, she was killed for her trouble without ever finding Natasha.
    • Melina is willing to abandon her life's work after a few hours with her family. As Natasha notes, Melina kept the photo album for over two decades, so she clearly still cared.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Yelena accidentally triggers an avalanche that threatens to bury the Russian prison. She, Natasha, Alexei, and every single guard and inmate all have this reaction when they see it coming, although Yelena follows it up with "This would be such a cool way to die!"
  • Match Cut: In the beginning montage, there's a shot of a red bow being tied at the end of a girl's braided hair. The footage is turned sideways and cuts to the red hourglass symbol on a target at a shooting range.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: The new Widows are sympathetic because they're controlled by a combination of chemical agents and good old-fashioned abusive training. The presumably male soldiers seem to be just as fanatically dedicated, probably for similar reasons, but they don't get any sympathy points at all. They don't even get faces.
  • Meta Twist:
    • In the comics, Melina is a villain. So when she betrays Natasha, fans might not be surprised. Turns out that the "betrayal" was part of the plan to help team Natasha infiltrate the Red Room.
    • Any viewer who's seen The Winter Soldier might expect some kind of twist with mixed identities and masks and Natasha pretending to be someone else. This does happen, but it's only the first layer of the deception.
    • If you've seen Infinity War, Yelena's vest may look familiar. A Tragic Keepsake? Nah, she doesn't die, she just gives it to Natasha at the end of the movie.
  • Mexican Standoff: When they first meet in Budapest, Natasha and Yelena hold each other at gunpoint and then duke it out.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The opening scene introduces young Natasha and Yelena along with their "parents", living a "normal" life in Ohio.
  • Missing Mom: Natasha believes her biological mother abandoned her as an infant. Melina eventually reveals that her mother didn't give her up voluntarily, and actually tried to relocate her so relentlessly that Dreykov had her executed for drawing too much attention which could have exposed the Red Room.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Natasha and Melina have a heartfelt conversation about their fake family, followed by a very Cringe Comedy scene of Alexei and Yelena on the subject.
    • In the end credits scene, Valentina interrupts a silent moment with Yelena by loudly blowing her nose and announcing she's "allergic to the Midwest".
  • My Friends… and Zoidberg!: Ross invokes this against Romanoff in the opening act to refer to Ant-Man. Justified on the side of Ross as he likely did not know Lang prior to the Leipzig Airport battle.
    Ross: We got Barton, we got Wilson and that other guy, the incredible shrinking convict.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • When talking to Alexei, the former Red Guardian, Yelena dismissively calls him Crimson Dynamo, a separate Russian villain from the comics that is also one of the inspirations for Ivan Vanko in Iron Man 2. It should be noted that in the comics, the Crimson Dynamo was Natasha's father.
    • While in prison, Alexei arm-wrestles a big guy nicknamed "Ursa". Ursa Major is a Russian mutant with the power to transform into a humanoid brown bear, and also part of the Winter Guard (the same super-team that Red Guardian is part of).
    • Natasha wears her fan-favorite white jumpsuit. She also finally wears her "classic" comics black jumpsuit with gold trim.
    • The holographic masks when mounted for storage in Melina's armory look like they are made of blue-white metal, which evokes her Iron Maiden costume in the comics.
    • The North Institute is namechecked as the S.H.I.E.L.D./HYDRA cover organisation that Alexei stole the mind-control tech from. In the comics, it was a hit-squad for a corporation that had acquired Red Room technology.
  • Never Found the Body: Natasha insists she killed Dreykov in the past, but when Yelena asks if she saw the body and confirmed the kill, Natasha can only claim the body had been utterly destroyed in the explosion, clearly aware of how weak it sounds. Sure enough, Dreykov is alive and well.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The trailers made it seem like the line "To me, you were everything" was directed toward Natasha by Yelena, but in the film, she says it to Alexei.
    • The trailers indicated that Taskmaster was an instructor at the Red Room, in line with his original comic book counterpart. In the movie, she is just another brainwashed assassin of theirs, and Dreykov is the true Big Bad.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
    • Early in the movie, Dreykov has his team steal mind-control files from S.H.I.E.L.D. and destroy the records behind him... but they're actually being stolen from HYDRA. So if not for Dreykov's actions, HYDRA would have been even more powerful at the time of Winter Soldier.
    • When Natasha is falling from the sky, Taskmaster attempts to track her down and kill her in mid-fall. As a result of this, Natasha is able to survive the fall by activating Taskmaster's parachute as she is holding on to her. Literally all Taskmasker had to do to kill Natasha was simply not go after her and let her fall to her doom.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The Russians should have known better than to build a prison in an avalanche zone. Then again, perhaps that's a security feature in case of an escape.
  • Nuclear Family: Invoked. Melina and Alexei were Russian agents posing as normal Americans in '90s Ohio. The Red Room gave them two "daughters" (Natasha and Yelena) to help keep up appearances.
  • Obligatory Earpiece Touch: In the Red Room, right after the reveal that Melina and Natasha have posed as each other, Melina contacts Yelena with instructions and touches her earpiece as she speaks. Alexei, who tried to give Natasha a heart-to-heart just earlier, also puts his hand to his ear as he tells her he's sorry. Melina informs him that he isn't wearing an earpiece and Natasha can't hear him.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: In hindsight after the reveal that the MCU version of Taskmaster is a woman, one would notice that in all of the action scenes Taskmaster is involved in, the actor wearing the suit is quite clearly a male stunt double.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The last scene with red-haired Natasha shows her, exhausted and battered, looking at a few dozen approaching troops who are about to arrest her over the Sokovia Accords. Cut to two weeks later, when she's somehow escaped. And got a haircut. And gone blonde.
  • Oh, Crap!: Natasha discovers the pictures of her and Yelena stashed in the counteragent vials after escaping her first encounter with the Taskmaster, which reveals Yelena's involvement. Earlier, Mason mentioned that it was sent from the Budapest safe house.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: The Red Room is a modern day take on this, a giant fortress that stays hidden by being so isolated in the clouds one can't find it.
  • One-Sided Arm-Wrestling: Alexei is reintroduced arm wrestling other prisoners, who get in line to challenge him. Since he's a Super Soldier, he beats them easily.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Both David Harbor and Rachel Weisz' Russian accents are wobbly on occasion (particularly when they get emotional). It's also easy to hear Ray Winstone's thick cockney accent underneath the Russian.
  • Outrunning the Fireball: Nat has to dive out of a window to escape the flames shooting out of an elevator shaft and filling the room behind her.
  • Palette Swap:
    • Natasha and her allies wear white versions of the Black Widow uniform for much of the film.
    • The wrist tasers and other signature Black Widow weapons all glow red and produce red lightning; Natasha's weapons in previous films had blue-colored effects.
  • Parental Abandonment: Natasha's mother is revealed to have abandoned her in the street as a child. Or at least, that's what she grew up believing; the truth turns out to be quite the opposite. And her surrogate parents abandoned her to the Red Room.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: Natasha and Yelena are both grossed out when their surrogate father Alexei talks about what he wants to do with their surrogate mother Melina.
    Natasha: Please don't do that.
  • Pheromones: The Widows are regularly dosed with a mind control serum that makes them highly suggestible. It's revealed that Dreykov made it react to his own pheromones so that Widows are incapable of harming him. Natasha then smashes her nose to block her sense of smell so she can go to town on him.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Natasha was always going to go on the run, but the plot of this film is set into motion after Yelena successfully assassinates Oksana, a former Black Widow in Morocco early on. With her dying breaths, Oksana exposes Yelena to one of the last remaining doses of the brainwashing antidote, freeing Yelena from her Black Widow conditioning. This then leads to her meeting up with Natasha, and the two resolving to use the remaining vials to take down the Red Room.
  • Precious Photo:
    • Yelena grabs a photo of her and Natasha from the family car when fleeing Ohio in 1995. In 2016, she includes it with the package of anti-mind control gas canisters she mails to Nat to indicate who sent it.
    • The family photo album from 1995 was fake: every picture in it was staged, including pictures of several different holidays being shot on the same day in different parts of the house, in order to help build the legend of the "family's" history to any nosy neighbors. It and those pictures are still important to the "family" twenty years later.
  • Present-Day Past: The opening scene is set in 1995 and shows that Yelena has a plush toy of Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. While My Little Pony was a popular brand around this time and started in 1983, Twilight and Friendship Is Magic first appeared in 2010. Moreover, that toy depicts Twilight as an alicorn (a winged unicorn), but she started the show as a regular unicorn and didn't become an alicorn until 2013.
  • Prison Riot: Alexei triggers a riot when he breaks out of the Russian prison:
    Natasha: You made a scene, didn't you?
  • Protagonist Title: The film is Natasha's solo outing, although both Yelena and Melina are also Black Widows.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: When one of the brainwashed Widows is badly injured while pursuing Natasha and Yelena, Dreykov forces her to shoot herself in the head rather than allow them to free her from his control and subsequently recruit her to their side.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • The reunion of Alexei, Natasha, Yelena and Melina is full of these:
      • Yelena gives one to Melina regarding the subjugation chemicals as she was one of those under the influence of it, and also to Natasha for her getting out and not finishing the job of killing Dreykov.
      • Natasha blasts both Melina and Alexei who believed they were a family (along with Yelena) and called the former a coward because she was the inventor of the subjugation chemical that Dreykov administered to the widows including Yelena.
    • Nat also gives one to Dreykov in their final confrontation about how he is a pathetic coward, saying that for all his alleged power he's been hiding for a decade, nobody knows who he is, and asks how long it's been since he last talked to someone who wasn't under his mind control. Once he physically attacks her while she is unable to fight back, she then starts berating him for beating someone who he made physically incapable of fighting back, while also mocking him for being so weak that he can't even do that correctly.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Color Motif of the Black Widows, a sinister all-female group of super-spies under the control of Dreykov for nefarious purposes. In the climax, they are shown in black suits with red lighting coming from the Red Room's environment.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Inverted. Breathing in the anti-brainwashing gas causes a Widow's irises to briefly turn red, but this is ultimately a good thing.
  • Red Is Heroic: Red Guardian wears mostly red and happens to be a hero, working with Natasha to locate the Red Room and end Dreykov's Black Widow program. And he was a hero to the people of the Soviet Union.
  • Reimagining the Artifact: Red Guardian, in the comics, was imagined as "the USSR's Captain America", a concept that wouldn't quite translate well with the MCU being set years after the Cold War ended. The film approaches the character as a Retired Badass who let himself go a bit after the fall of the Soviet Union, and who insists he fought Captain America despite the obvious chronological problems with this.
  • Related Differently in the Adaptation: In the comics, Alexei Shostakov was Natasha's ex-husband. Here, he's her sort-of adoptive father.
  • Related in the Adaptation: In addition to Alexei being Natasha's "father", Melina is her "mother" and Yelena her "sister". Even though this was a cover identity that only lasted a few years, they still see each other as such.
  • Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: A familial variant. The movie is about how two estranged sisters manage to reconnect to each other and their now separated parents by facing a shared problem together.
  • Resolved Noodle Incident: "Budapest" and "Dreykov's daughter", both incidents briefly brought up with no explanation in The Avengers, get expanded on here. Natasha — then a Widow — and Clint initially tried to kill each other, before Natasha defected and teamed up with him to take down the Red Room. They hid for ten days before they could leave Hungary, finally culminating in Natasha trailing a then-child Antonia Dreykov to her father and blowing up the building.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • Toward the end of the film, Melina briefly stops to watch the Widows training before she reports to Dreykov. The first time watching, you probably wonder what she's thinking and whether she feels conflicted about the role she played in their suffering and her own betrayal of her adopted family. Watching the film again, knowing that this is actually a disguised Natasha seeing the new incarnation of the Red Room for the first time, makes a significant difference to the effect of the moment.
    • Dreykov's control over the Red Room depends on a wireless contact hidden inside his pinkie ring. In the battle with Natasha at the end you can spot the moment it disappears from his hand.
  • Robo Cam: When Taskmaster is present, the scene sometimes switches to Taskmaster's computer programming analyzing their field of vision, complete with statistics related to what they're looking at.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The film being bookended by shots of fireflies surrounding/near Natasha (both as a child and later as an Avenger on the run) helps highlight the poignancy of her life and fate, as the firefly has been traditionally identified in Japanese culture as both symbols of love and death in war—themes Natasha had to come to terms with in this film.
  • Rule of Three:
    • Natasha ends up caught in some sort of vehicle that explodes three times. The first two are SUVs. The third is a gigantic secret, flying base.
    • Yelena is referencing and disliking Natasha's Three-Point Landings.
      • The first is at the convenience store where she tries to demonstrate and mocks it in front of Natasha.
      • The second happens where Natasha executes a clean one on the catwalk above the prison while they are rescuing Alexei; Yelena's response? "Such a poser".
      • The third is executed by Yelena herself out of an air vent exactly like Natasha did in Iron Man 2, responding with "Ugh, that was disgusting".
    • A distinct exchange of whistles between Yelena (high-low) and Natasha (low-high) is used three times, first when they're children and second when they go their separate ways after the final battle. Yelena does it a third time when visiting Natasha's grave, and it goes unanswered, until she hears a loud and annoying blowing of a nose.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Taskmaster is never seen outside a full body costume and helmet in the advertising and during most of the movie, and their appearance on the posters conspicuously leaves out any actors' names. Turns out this is to disguise that she's a woman, and who exactly is under the mask.
  • Saved by Canon: Downplayed. Anyone who has watched Endgame knows that Natasha is going to perform a sacrifice to obtain the Soul Stone on Vormir. That said, she is not going to die in her film, as it takes place years before Endgame, and she will link up with Captain America in Wakanda afterwards.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • The Stinger sets up Hawkeye when Yelena is hired by Valentina to hunt down Clint for his role in the death of Black Widow.
    • The survival of Taskmaster sets up a possible return for her in the future.
  • Shock Stick: Some guards at the Seventh Circle Prison use electric batons. One of them shocks Alexei during his attempt to escape.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The sequence with Ross following the intro strongly resembles a scene from Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, at nearly the exact same place in the film: the protagonist is alone in a room, watching security footage of a task force surrounding the building they seem to be in. The troops close in on what appears to be the room the protagonist is in, only for a sweeping shot to reveal that they are in another part of the world entirely.
    • Ross refers to Ant-Man as the "The Incredible Shrinking Convict."
    • The film has significant thematic and aesthetic similarities to The Bourne Series—particularly with the nature of the Red Room being agents enhanced and controlled against their will, not to mention Natasha, the best among them, being on the run from both the assassination agency and global authorities.
    • The protagonist's family member sends them the MacGuffin to keep it safe, only for the protagonist to bring it right back to that family member, just as in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
    • Yelena's favourite song as a child is "American Pie". Alexei later sings it to her while trying to prove he genuinely cares about her.
    • Natasha watches Moonraker, another spy movie featuring a physically unassuming Big Bad with a giant implacable henchman with Hidden Depths, a mid-air action sequence involving unconventional use of a parachute, and a hidden fortress above the Earth. It might be enough to count as Foreshadowing.
  • Shown Their Work: Alexei has prison tattoos, which are common for Russian convicts — and the symbols used are accurate to what Russian prisoners often use. For instance, the eyes are meant to intimidate other convicts, while the towers and the star indicate that Alexei has a history of stealing. This was previously done with Ivan Vanko.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": Natasha realigns her broken nose by twisting it, which is accompanied by a wet crunch.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift:
    • Following the events of Civil War, Natasha ditches her signature black outfit as she goes on the run. Around the same time, Yelena ditches her own black outfit after deserting the Red Room. They both wear white versions of these outfits for most of the film after that point, though Natasha wears Melina's black suit in the climax due to them switching places. The costume she wears to return to her "birthplace" also looks the most like her classic outfit.
    • The adult Yelena is introduced wearing a black suit identical to her fellow Widows, though she ditches it.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Alexei is very proud of his history as the Red Guardian, but over the years has fallen into obscurity. He asks Natasha if Captain America has ever mentioned him, and her reaction indicates that Rogers, and most of the Avengers, have never even heard of Red Guardian.
  • So Proud of You: Alexei blends this with an odd paternal In Love with Your Carnage, telling both Natasha and Yelena how proud he is that his two daughters grew up to be two of the deadliest women alive. He even wraps them up in a big old hug. Neither is impressed.
  • Spoiler Opening: Olga Kurylenko appears in the opening credits. By process of elimination, she's not playing Dreykov, and clearly none of the Widows, whose faces are all seen. That just leaves Taskmaster. The marketing left her name out entirely.
  • Spotting the Thread: In prison, Alexei is telling tales of his exploits while arm-wrestling, including how he fought Captain America. One prisoner points out that Captain America was under ice during the period Red Guardian was active, so they couldn't have met.
  • Spy Catsuit: The standard outfit for Black Widows is black and formfitting. Natasha and Yelena ditch their black suits early in the film and don white ones when they break Alexei out of prison. Natasha swaps her white suit for Melina's black one as part of their plan to fool Dreykov into thinking they're each other. Yelena's suits are slightly looser than Natasha's usually are and she spends most of the movie wearing her tactical vest over her suit.
  • Spy Fiction: A Mixed Cocktail. Stale Beer for its obvious parallels to human trafficking and indoctrination for forced labour, but the Martini flavor cuts through with its exotic locations and high-flying action set-pieces involving cool gadgets against a Supervillain, and with a dash of Absinthe for the fact that it deals with mind control, a state-sponsord super-soldier, and it taking place in a larger Superhero universe.
  • The Stinger: After Natasha's death in Avengers: Endgame, Yelena visits her sister's grave to pay her respects. She is approached by Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine, who offers her the chance to hunt down the man responsible for Natasha's death, Clint Barton.
  • The Straight and Arrow Path: Taskmaster brandishes a high-tech bow and arrow from the roof of an armored vehicle, presumably drawing on Hawkeye's skills. The actual arrow acts a lot like the Winter Soldier's anti-vehicle disc in his co-titular film. Which makes sense, because Taskmaster is based on TWS in-universe.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: After Yelena and the rest of her family get captured by the Red Room, she is sent to an operating room so Red Room techs can cut her open and find out why she is no longer under control. She mutters that this is a not a cool way to die. She quickly frees herself thanks to a concealed knife.
  • Suddenly Speaking: Taskmaster is utterly silent throughout the movie until Natasha doses her with the formula to undo her mental conditioning, at which point she desperately asks assurance that her father, Dreykov, is dead.
  • Superhero Movie Villains Die: Zig-zagged. Dreykov, created for the movie with zero presence in the comics, is Killed Off for Real, while Taskmaster, the legit supervillain in the comics, not only survives but has a genuine shot at redemption.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: Justified. Yelena's initial plan had been to send the brainwashing antidote to Natasha in the hopes that Tony Stark or one of her other super-scientist friends could reverse-engineer it, and the Avengers could eventually take down the Red Room. However, the film is set just after Civil War, where the Avengers "divorced" (as Mason puts it), with some jailed or on the run due to the Sokovia Accords. Natasha tells Yelena that they are no longer on speaking terms.
  • Supernatural Suffocation: Sci-fi variant. Through her research, Melina has gained complete control over her test subjects' brains, and can compel them to stop breathing altogether. She brings a pig to near-death (eleven seconds away from total suffocation) as part of her demonstration, to her surrogate daughters' discomfort.
  • Surprisingly Good Foreign Language: Zig-zagged:
    • The film has a lot of lines in Russian, and the script itself has no grammatical errors and includes appropriate colloquial phrases and slang expressions.
    • The actress who plays young Natasha has very good Russian pronunciation, because she is the daughter of Milla Jovovich who has Russian ties. Approximately half of the secondary characters have good pronunciation as well.
    • However, the titular character, while intelligible, has a thick accent and stresses the wrong syllables, and the other half of the secondary characters are unintelligible to a native Russian speaker without subtitles. Their lines were all dubbed for the Russian theatrical release.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Several.
    • Natasha going up against a whole room of Widows starts off pretty well, and she is both better armed and has more practical experience with fighting large amounts of opponents than they do, but at the end of the day, she's just one person taking on a multitude of extremely well-trained opponents, and she is subdued fairly quickly, plus they were ordered to not kill her right away.
    • Alexei is a Super Soldier, but he has also been out of practice for decades and is not in great shape and is heavily reliant on his augmented physical traits, while Taskmaster is a much younger, much more skilled fighter with cybernetic enhancements that allow her to be a physical match for him, and she effortlessly manhandles him. On the other hand, he was probably at least nominally aware that he was going to be pulverized, but after decades of missing the thrill of a good fight and with the knowledge that he was still durable enough to take a beating, he probably didn't care.
    • "I doubt the god from space needs to take an ibuprofen after a fight."
    • The concept of Taskmaster has some of this. While Taskmaster can mimic other people's fighting styles well, Taskmaster is not as effective at using their techniques and can't perfectly mimic them simply because she has a different body type than most of them. This is best exemplified when she imitates Hawkeye and Winter Soldier. While imitating Hawkeye, she has to use her left hand to wield her bow rather than her right, like Clint because she's right handed. While imitating Winter Soldier, while she has his knife skills, she also doesn't have his robotic left arm. What made him a dangerous knife fighter was that he had his left arm to pressure foes, which makes it harder for his foes to disarm him and counter his attacks. For the super-powered people she imitates, although she has super-strength too from her augmentations, she can't imitate them perfectly because she's shorter and less muscular than most of them. The heroes she copies the best are Black Widow and Spider-Man because they have the most similar body types and for Black Widow, Taskmaster most likely got the same Widow training. What also doesn’t help is that Taskmaster copies people based on footage she sees of them, footage that might be slowed down because of their recording tools' frame rate and not by actually seeing or combating their moves in person, which would be a better learning experience. All in all, Taskmaster comes across as less of a perfect copy fighter and more of a Jackof All Stats or a Jackof All Trades.
  • Take That!: The main villain General Dreykov bears an almost uncanny resemblance to Martin Scorsese, who had previously made waves in the entertainment world when he very openly criticized Marvel movies as a whole.
  • Talk to the Fist: Alexei's last opponent smugly points out that his tales of fighting Captain America don't really make sense. Rather than argue the point, Alexei's breaks the man's wrist.
  • Tempting Fate: Alexei, taking a tranquilizer dart in the chest, pulls it out and contemptuously scoffs, "They think that..." He is immediately hit with a dozen more.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: While strapped to an operating table about to have her head cut open without anesthesia, Yelena comments that this is not a cool way to die.
  • Three-Point Landing:
    • Yelena mocks Natasha's propensity for landing on her knees and flipping her head upwards, calling her a "poser". She performs one herself later on, and shudders from how "disgusting" it felt.
    • As if to prove it's a signature move, Natasha finds herself facing Taskmaster while both are posed this way.
  • Throwing Your Shield Always Works: Taskmaster has Captain America's fighting skills and a similar shield, which he throws at Natasha and Yelena while pursuing them in the subway. Later, Alexei manages to grab it and also throws it to take out a henchman.
  • Timeshifted Actor: Ever Anderson and Violet McGraw play the young versions of Natasha and Yelena.
  • Title Sequence: Unusually for the MCU, which with only a few prior exceptions note  saves its stylised credits for the end titles, the main credits of Black Widow are just after the prologue, with Think Up Anger's cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" accompanying a montage of a younger Natasha's training in the Red Room.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Natasha and Yelena, especially as children, are contrasted in this way. Natasha has short hair, wears active clothing, and loves riding her bike, while Yelena has long blonde hair, wears pink, and has a My Little Pony plush.
  • Too Much Information: When Yelena smacks Alexei upon their first meeting in years, he jokingly asks if it's their period. Yelena proceeds to explain in detail that their reproductive organs were scooped out of them, which disgusts Alexei who can only ask that she stop.
  • Toyota Tripwire: Yelena does this to take out a Widow on a motorbike during the Car Chase in Budapest. Although she doesn't just open the door, but kicks it so it goes off flying.
  • Tracking Chip:
    • The Widows are implanted with one by the Red Room. After being snapped out of her conditioning, Yelena cuts hers out and stumbles away in a daze.
    • Natasha has one in the belt buckle of her suit, which we find out when Ross and his team raid her location. She knew this and is on an entirely different continent the entire time.
  • Trail of Blood: In the Budapest subway, Taskmaster follows the trail of blood from Yelena's wound to an access hatch to the service tunnels, only for a pan up to the ceiling to show it was a Fakeout Escape.
  • Tranquillizer Dart: During the assault on Melina's farm, Alexei gets hit in the chest by one. He's contemptuous at first, since that won't be enough to take down a Super Soldier, but then he's comically hit by a dozen more darts in rapid succession, and ends up falling flat on his face.
  • Trojan Prisoner: Natasha and her family infiltrate the Red Room by being captured. Melina alerts Dreykov, who sends a team to capture them. However, they manipulate the situation so that they can all easily break free and accomplish their goals.
    • Natasha disguises herself as Melina to get close to Dreykov and dictate where the others are sent.
    • Melina (disguised as Natasha) gets locked in a cell she can easily escape from because she designed it.
    • Yelena is strapped to an operating table, but given a knife with which she can easily cut through her bonds.
    • Alexei is the only one not in on the plan in any way; but he is nevertheless integral to it, as he is a super-soldier (a power Taskmaster cannot duplicate), and thus he's the only one who is probably capable of going head-to-head with Taskmaster without getting killed in mere minutes.
  • Undercover as Lovers: Alexei and Melina posed as an American married couple while serving as spies in Ohio. Despite the fact it was a ruse, they seem genuinely fond of each other. Melina even admits that Alexei still looks good despite his weight.
  • Unfortunate Names: The name on Natasha's initial fake ID is "Fanny Longbottom", which she doesn't appreciate. Mason protests it's a legitimate name, but she still calls him out on the immaturity of giving her an ID with a naughty slang word and the word "bottom" in the name. It's also highly memorable, which is exactly what she doesn't want.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Dreykov thanked his old friend Alexei for bringing S.H.I.E.L.D. research, Natasha and Yelena to him by ratting him out to Russian authorities, leaving him imprisoned for over two decades.
  • The Un-Hug: In a twisted So Proud of You speech, Alexei congratulates his daughters on being respectively a Black Widow and an Avenger with surely lots of kills in their ledgers and warmly hugs them. However, Natasha and Yelena still resent Alexei for having betrayed them, do not enjoy their red ledgers at all, and Yelena also says that he stinks so the hug is rather awkward and uncomfortable for the girls.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Natasha and family plan to infiltrate the Red Room by having Natasha disguise herself as Melina and vice-versa and getting them imprisoned by Dreykov, where'd they'd easily break out. The plan wasn't explained to the viewing audience beforehand, so we're led to believe that Melina betrayed the others by giving their locations to Dreykov.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: When Natasha and Yelena pick up supplies from a nearby convenience store, they openly discuss the ongoing plot and their backstories, not even hiding that they are trained killers and good at their jobs. Both women are also very clearly roughed up, with Yelena sporting a large makeshift bandage over her arm. The clerk on the register not only doesn't remark about any of this, he barely looks up at the magazine he's reading as he's ringing the women up. Perhaps the women are speaking some foreign language the clerk doesn't understand, and we viewers hear it in English. Or perhaps they somehow figured out he's one of the 84% of Hungarians who don't speak English. Or maybe the clerk recognizes "Natasha the Avenger", and so gives her a Weirdness Coupon.
  • Way Past the Expiration Date: Yelena eats some energy bars Natasha had stashed many years prior. They are very dry.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": Alexei is clearly less than thrilled to learn that Melina named one of her pigs after him.
  • Wham Shot:
    • When Alexei first uses his superpowers in the Action Prologue, which up to that point played out like a down-to-earth spy film.
    • Taskmaster unmasking herself as Dreykov's daughter, Antonia, complete with the scar caused by Natasha's failed strike against Dreykov.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The film shares many of its main plot points with X2: X-Men United, primarily The Hero gathering unlikely allies to burn down the horrible place that created them decades ago, which is still run by an amoral ex-military officer who abuses his own crippled child for their Mind Control plot. The main difference is that unlike Stryker, Dreykov is out for world domination from the shadows instead of genocide of people he doesn't like.
  • Wolf Whistle: Alexei enters the dining room wearing his old Red Guardian uniform, proudly proclaiming that it still fits (after much grunting and squeezing). Melina gives him a wolf whistle.
  • Worf Effect: Pushed almost to the point of parody with Alexei. Not only does he get his ass whooped in the fight with the Taskmaster, but earlier in the movie he gets promptly sedated and captured by Faceless Mooks as soon as they spot him. This is further reinforced later when it is revealed that he was the only one of the protagonists who got captured by the villains for real, the others were just playing a ruse in order to infiltrate the villain’s headquarters. This is Played for Laughs both times. Also justified, he's out of shape and out of practice, and spent decades being the top dog in prison by sole virtue of his augmented physical abilities and hasn't faced anyone who is his match or better in a very long time.
  • Would Hurt a Child: In the backstory, Natasha. She stalked Dreykov's daughter to find and kill him, allowing the poor child to get caught in the crossfire. She maintains that it was necessary, but she is clearly still haunted by it. Yelena has to drag the story out of her. Compounding Natasha's mistake, Dreykov uses the incident to mind control his daughter and turn her into the Taskmaster, which is arguably a Fate Worse than Death.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: In the prologue, the younger Natasha has parts of her hair dyed blue. During her years of training in the Red Room, she eventually grows it out back to its natural red color. In the end, it's blonde — fitting her appearance in Infinity War.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Yelena gets too close to the catwalk and Natasha with the chopper's blades, causing the latter to react in disgust this way.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • Any widow candidate kidnapped by Dreykov that is not fit to be a Widow is killed — or, in some cases, turned into the next generation of Widows. He also kills off any Widow who is injured enough to become this as shown in the one who zaps herself after Dreykov instructs her through the mind-control algorithm to do so.
    • Dreykov decides to leave the Widows and his daughter behind in the exploding Red Room so that he can save his own skin.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Natasha has been trying to do good in the world, in her own words "wiping the red out of her ledger". So when Alexei tells her he's so proud that she's such a deadly assassin and "her ledger must be gushing", she can only storm away in wordless fury.
  • You Say Tomato: Mason and Romanoff argue over the correct pronunciation of Budapest (Hungarian or English).

"Thank you for your cooperation."

Alternative Title(s): Black Widow 2020

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