Black Widow recap: the super spy's globe-trotting road to 'Infinity'
When “Avengers: Infinity War” hits theaters April 27, it will mark 10 years since “Iron Man” launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In this series, we check in with the key “Infinity War” players — the road they’ve taken and the path ahead. Today, we’re exploring one of the more mysterious characters in the MCU, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow.
From Russia With Love: Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, aka the Black Widow, made her MCU debut in 2010’s “Iron Man 2,” where she infiltrated Stark Industries on behalf of S.H.I.E.L.D. — a fitting assignment, given the Black Widow’s history.
While there’s a lot that hasn’t been revealed about Romanoff’s past, we do know that she was born in Russia and began working for the KGB at a young age. She was trained for combat and infiltration as part of a top-secret KGB program called the Red Room.
Romanoff earned the codename “Black Widow” because of her deadly skills, and wound up attracting the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D. U.S. intelligence agencies considered Romanoff to be a major risk, and top agent Clint “Hawkeye” Barton was dispatched to eliminate her.
Instead of killing the Black Widow, however, Hawkeye offered her the chance to defect and join S.H.I.E.L.D. She accepted, and the pair developed a close bond, working together on assignments all over the world.
Woman of Mystery: Most of the Black Widow’s S.H.I.E.L.D. missions remain classified in the MCU, but a few key details have slipped out in various films. We know, for instance, that she and Hawkeye were on a mission in Budapest at one point, which she later compared to the Battle of New York in Joss Whedon‘s “The Avengers.”
We also know that Romanoff first encountered The Winter Soldier during a mission in Odessa, five years before the events of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Tasked with protecting a nuclear scientist, Romanoff failed in her mission when the Winter Solider fired a shot right through her to kill the man.
Avengers Addition: The Black Widow was among the heroes brought together by S.H.I.E.L.D. when Loki attempted an alien invasion of Earth in 2012’s “The Avengers.”
Her first task was to track down Dr. Bruce Banner in India because of his expertise with Gamma radiation. Not only was Banner able to help on the scientific side, but his rage-fueled alter ego lent much-needed muscle to the Avengers’ battle against Chitauri forces.
As time passed, Banner and Romanoff developed a romantic relationship, and her compassion was instrumental in controlling his Hulk persona. That is until “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015), when Banner once again went on the run, this time to outer space.
Black Widow also made a cameo appearance in Taika Waititi‘s “Thor: Ragnarok,” where she was spotted on a video monitor. That’s when it was revealed that the Hulk had ended up on the planet Sakaar, unable to revert to human form.
The Fall of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Following the Battle of New York in “The Avengers,” Black Widow worked alongside Captain America, conducting covert operations. Together, the pair learned that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been infiltrated by the forces of HYDRA. Cap and the Black Widow teamed up to prevent the launch of HYDRA’s Project Insight program, which would have caused millions of deaths worldwide.
In exposing HYRDRA, Romanoff wound up going public with top-secret S.H.I.E.L.D. data, including several of her own covert missions. Although it’s been hinted that the info publicly paints Romanoff in a negative light, the specifics of those operations haven’t been released.
Team Cap: In “Captain America: Civil War,” Romanoff initially sided with Tony Stark in the fight over superhero registration but wound up joining Cap’s team at the 11th hour. In doing so, she became an international fugitive and her whereabouts are currently unknown.
It is believed that she continues to work alongside Chris Evans‘ Steve Rogers, using the secret African nation of Wakanda as a base of operations. That’s likely where we’ll find Romanoff — sporting a new blonde look — when “Infinity War” begins.
Going Solo: A “Black Widow” movie is said to be in the works at Marvel Studios with Jac Schaeffer, the scribe behind the recent “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” short, working on the screenplay. Just because such a film is on the way, however, doesn’t mean that Black Widow will necessarily make it through “Infinity War” in one piece.
First Impressions: The Black Widow comic book character initially appeared in an “Iron Man” story, 1964’s “Tales of Suspense” #52. That tale also involved Russian baddy Anton Vanko, who was played by Mickey Rourke in “Iron Man 2” — the same film where Romanoff made her MCU debut.
Click on the image below to continue on the road to “Avengers: Infinity War” with a look at the god of thunder himself, Thor: