The mysterious Natasha Romanoff – aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) – has been around since the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). And she’s finally getting her own solo adventure: the upcoming Black Widow.
It promises to be full of the kind of high-octane action we have come to expect from the MCU, and will fill in the character’s murky Soviet backstory, as well as her dysfunctional ‘family’ of spies, assassins and superheroes.
Black Widow takes place between the events of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. Romanoff finds herself back in Russia, collaborating with her fellow operatives in the Black Widow agency training program, and forced to battle a dangerous conspiracy that has ties to her past.
Pursued by villain Taskmaster, who can absorb the abilities of all those around him, Romanoff must confront her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger. The excellent supporting cast includes Little Women's Florence Pugh as Yelena, Stranger Things' David Harbour as Red Guardian and The Favourite's Rachel Weisz as Melina.
To celebrate Black Widow’s upcoming solo movie, we’ve ranked her five greatest moments in the MCU...
5. Bad guys, meet Black Widow (Iron Man 2, 2010)
Romanoff was introduced as an assistant to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), the better half of Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr). Having teased her capabilities throughout the film, director Jon Favreau shows us exactly what she can do when she and Tony Stark’s Head of Security, Happy Hogan (Favreau himself), break into Hammer Industries.
As Happy tackles one thug, Black Widow begins to dispatch multiple: punching, kicking and flipping her way through the air in such a way that Batman would be jealous. As she makes her way through the hallways and corridors, Black Widow takes down so many hired goons that it’s hard to keep up.
Using tricks and moves that put Jason Bourne and James Bond to shame, Black Widow demonstrates her skills with aplomb, proving that although she may not have superpowers, she is certainly a superhero.
4. Pull up a chair (Avengers Assemble, 2012)
Black Widow’s first scene in Joss Whedon’s ambitiously mounted MCU ensemble movie Avengers Assemble shows the character tied to a chair and surrounded by bad guys. For anyone else this would be a hopeless situation, but, of course, Black Widow is not just anyone else.
Natasha takes apart each and every one of this band of hired goons, without even breaking a sweat or getting up from her chair. Black Widow throws kicks, headbutts and even frees herself during this brutal takedown, and it will no doubt make you feel embarrassed the next time you groan while just getting up from the sofa.
And all the while, she’s kept S.H.I.E.L.D. operative Coulson, first name Agent (Clark Gregg), patiently waiting on hold.
3. Tricking the trickster (Avengers Assemble, 2012)
Once again showing her ability to manipulate with words and emotions, Black Widow does the impossible in Avengers Assemble, tricking the ultimate trickster: Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
While being held captive by S.H.I.E.L.D., Loki believes himself to be in control, as he dredges up the red that Black Widow has in her ledger. He grows increasingly more aggressive, even calling her a mewling quim (the scoundrel!), and just when it seems he has broken her down, he lets slip what he is really after: the Hulk.
Black Widow then pulls the big blind: she could not care less what Loki has to say about her and was instead waiting for him to let his guard down, ultimately deceiving the literal God of Mischief.
2. Face-off (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2014)
Black Widow is not all about the punches and kicks – she is also highly skilled in all things espionage. With Captain America: The Winter Soldier surprise villain Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) having done what all pantomime villains do and laid out his masterplan, Black Widow reveals that she has been in the room the entire time.
Disguised as Councilwoman Hawley (Jenny Agutter), Natasha removes a high-tech digital mask before sacrificing her own safety in order to expose the dreaded HYDRA organisation via the internet. Black Widow proves she is capable of laying down on the wire and making the sacrifice play, and not for the first time.
1. The ultimate sacrifice (Avengers: Endgame, 2019)
Black Widow has been there since the Avengers initiative first formed, even bringing in Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), and showing a remarkable ability to reason with his rampaging Hulk alter-ego.
This led to the tentative signs of a romance between the two characters in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, but it ultimately came to nothing. And anyway, Natasha’s heart really belongs to the arrow-firing Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), whose brainwashing she was reluctantly forced to confront in Avengers Assemble.
In Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, the Avengers suffer their greatest defeat at the hands of the evil Thanos (Josh Brolin), who makes good on his plan to obliterate half of all life in the universe. Tragically, it falls to Black Widow and Hawkeye to make the ultimate personal sacrifice and initiate the desperate final battle against Thanos and his forces.
In order to do so, they must obtain the Soul Stone that is located on the desolate Vormir, a place beyond our known reality. Hearts all over the world were wrenched when it became clear that one of the two characters had to die in order to make the Soul Stone accessible.
Throwing herself from the cliff on Vormir, Black Widow nobly makes the choice that will ultimately help to bring down Thanos – an act that is, at the very least, equal to Iron Man’s eventual death.
Knowing this is how it all went down for Natasha, we’ll probably be feeling a tad melancholy when the Black Widow movie reaches its conclusion.
Jon Fuge is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team. Follow him on Twitter.