With her own standalone film Black Widow coming out this year, it may be important to learn about the history of the stunning Russian assassin. While we’ve learned a bit about Black Widow within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she has an even richer history in Marvel Comics. The character of Black Widow was created by the late great Stan Lee. Although Black Widow’s first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in Iron Man 2, her debut in the comics came in 1964’s Tales of Suspense #52. In the films, we learn that Black Widow (real name, Natasha Romanoff) is the ultimate femme fatale. She meets Tony Stark and Pepper Potts under the guise of a notary public who has come to finalize Tony appointing Pepper as CEO of Stark Industries. Later she reveals herself to be the ruthless assassin we all know and love when she saves Happy Hogan from some of Justin Hammer’s security detail. But what can we learn about Black Widow by looking at her comic book history that hasn’t yet been addressed in the Marvel Cinemati Universe?

While Avengers like Steve Rogers and Peter Parker had relatively normal childhoods, Romanoff was not granted such a privilege. Black Widow’s name is derived from the Soviet created ‘Black Widow Ops’ program,” the very same program that turned her (and many other young girls) into the perfect female assassin. During the program, these girls were trained in what is called the “Red Room” facility. In fact, fans of the television series, Agent Carter may also remember another member of the Black Widow Ops program: Dottie Underwood. During the series, Dottie proved to be one

of Peggy Carter’s most challenging adversaries, so it comes as no surprise that she has the same training as the Black Widow, herself. Although it may seem like Black Widow dulls in comparison to Avengers such as The Incredible Hulk or The Amazing Spider-Man, she actually has many impressive abilities.

While it has yet to be addres sed in the films, Black Widow has delayed aging and in actuality, is roughly the same age as Captain America, due to the biotechnology augmentations she underwent during her time in the Black Widow Ops program not only that but she also has enhanced endurance; so much so that in Black Widow Vol. 4 #1, she is depicted as being able to undergo surgery while being completely conscious throughout the whole procedure.

Additionally, Black Widow also has a healing factor much like Wolverine. However, this ability comes with one drawback: sterilization. The Black Widow program prevents it’s ‘participants’ from having children due to their bodies rejecting the fetuses.

However, the Marvel Cinematic Universe suggests that a sterilization procedure occurs upon graduation from the program to ensure that the girls will be invulnerable to emotional attachments (in this case, a child.) While not addressed in the MCU, Black Widow actually has a lot in common with the Winter Soldier. The success of Bucky Barnes’ brainwashing and biotechnological enhancements paved the way for Black Widow Ops.

Bucky’s memories of Steve Rogers were wiped clean, causing him to murder Tony Stark’s parents and nearly take out Captain America, as well; but Bucky isn’t the only one who was a victim of memory manipulation.

But what can we learn about Black Widow by looking at her comic book history that hasn’t yet been addressed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

The Black Widow Ops program also manipulated Black Widow’s brain by implanting memories of her being an accomplished ballerina for the Bolshoi Theatre. This was done in an elaborate effort to craft a fictitious history for Romanoff and the other girls to have a sense of loyalty to the soviets of course, we all know that Black Widow defected from the U.S.S.R. based on the timeline of the movies and the rest is history. It will be interesting to see how the MCU will condense Natasha Romanoff’s history and what aspects of her life prior to the Avengers they’ll choose to focus on and what changes will be made in her upcoming film. Black Widow is set to be released in theatres on November 6, 2020.

About the Author: Phuong Pham

Phuong Pham

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