Better known as Natasha Romanoff, Natalia Alianovna Romanova made her comic debut in 1964 in Tales of Suspense #52. Black Widow was created by Stan Lee, Don Rico and Don Heck.
However, Nat wasn’t always the hero we’ve come to know and love. She actually began her journey as a villain; a Russian spy who was an early antagonist of Iron Man. Natasha later defected to the U.S., joining S.H.I.E.L.D. and eventually becoming an Avenger.
Nat has gone by many names over the years and has evolved quite a bit. She is one of the most complex characters in Marvel Comics. Where other heroes are bright and colorful, with clear allegiances and motivations, Black Widow is different. She is darker, more enigmatic, and has proven time and time again that she doesn’t need powers to be super.
Although Natasha has flown under the radar for much of her existence, Scarlett Johnasson’s portrayal of the character has popularized her quite a bit. The future of the MCU seems to be a bit more female-friendly, but up until Black Panther, it had largely been a boys' club. Even still, Black Widow has proven that she can hold her own against her male counterparts both on page and screen.
Natasha's history is just as complicated as she is. There is little about this particular Avenger that is straightforward. Even her basic physiology has been altered since her inception. Little that was true about the character at the time of her creation remains so today, from her backstory to her abilities.
Here are 20 Weird Facts About Black Widow’s Body.
20 She's 90 years old
There aren’t too many comic book characters who have stuck to a specific birthdate or time, but, feeling that Natasha’s is so integral to her backstory, her writers have kept it all these years.
While most comics remain clear on her birth year of 1928, Black Widow has gone through several different origin stories over the years.
With various retcons, her history has become unnecessarily complicated.
She was orphaned during an early attack on Stalingrad and fell into the hands of a Russian soldier named Ivan Petrovitch. However, accounts diverge from there, with Natasha either being raised by him or brought up in the USSR’s Black Widow Ops Program, where she was trained in the infamous Red Room facility. Either way, her education as a spy began when she was young.
19 She is biologically enhanced
It was during her time in the Red Room that Natasha was given a serum not too dissimilar from the Super Soldier serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America.
This explains why the character has aged so slowly over the years, which is likely the reason the retcon happened in the first place.
Natasha is stronger, faster, and has quicker reflexes than a normal person. She also heals from injuries very quickly and rarely gets sick.
It’s strange that writers have gone through so much trouble to preserve Natasha’s WWII backstory when she could have remained as ageless as the majority of other Marvel characters. Unfortunately, the result of this was giving powers to a hero who was actually cool enough without them.
18 She was implanted with fake memories
Natasha’s backstory is actually so complicated that not even Black Widow herself is entirely certain what happened to her. Due to one specific retcon - the same one that gave her superpowers - many aspects thought to be a part of the character’s history were erased, because it turned out that the Red Room had implanted Natasha with fake memories.
This was supposedly done to ensure the loyalty of Natasha and her fellow recruits.
One of the most confusing aspects of Black Widow is that some writers have chosen to use her rewritten backstory over the years, while others have stuck with the original. It would seem that her life has gotten so convoluted that even those penning the comics have struggled to separate the real memories from those that were manufactured.
17 She is a classically trained ballerina… maybe
The MCU has hinted at her past as a ballerina, but comic fans have been left to wonder whether that piece of Natasha’s history ever happened at all.
Natasha’s original backstory used her ballerina training as a cover for her spy work. However, in the wake of the false memory retcon, it was revealed that, although Natasha has memories of being a ballerina, she never actually was one.
This is strange, because her ballet training actually makes a whole lot of sense in terms of story. It’s also unclear why there was the need to give her those particular memories.
Why would it be so important for Natasha to think that she had ever been a ballerina? Sure, it would explain some of her skills, but others would’ve still had a big, fat question mark hanging over them.
16 She was trained by the Winter Soldier
Pairing Natalia Alianovna Romanova and James Buchanan Barnes actually makes a lot of sense. They have both survived in a moral grey area for much of their lives, changing allegiances, as well as personas. Bucky and Nat were used as instruments of destruction and both struggled to find a way back to themselves. It’s completely understandable that they would form a bond when Black Widow was trained by the Winter Soldier during her time in the Red Room.
Natasha was already a gifted student, but Bucky really helped her to come into her own. The pair have since had an on-again-off-again romance.
It’s unclear if this storyline will find its way into the MCU, but it has been hinted that the two know each other.
15 Scarlett Johansson is much shorter than Natasha
Scarlett Johansson wasn’t yet the household name that she is today when she was cast as Black Widow and so no one really knew what to expect from her in an action role.
Fans were excited to see the character when she initially appeared in the lackluster Iron Man 2, but it wasn’t until Avengers that Johansson was really given the opportunity to prove that she was perfectly cast.
Johansson is excellent as Black Widow, completely embodying the character. Yet, there is one very small difference from page to screen: their height.
Natasha is a actually pretty tall at 5’7”, while the actress who plays her is on the shorter side at only 5’3” - not that this makes a difference in Johansson’s portrayal of the character.
14 She was able to lift Mjolnir
Marvel’s What If comics have delivered on some of the company’s most shocking and ridiculous moments, which is kind of the point of the line. These comics explore the endless possibilities of how the universe would’ve been changed had certain events played out differently.
What If? Age of Ultron imagines a world in which the God of Thunder and other super-powered beings lost their lives in Ragnarok. In Thor’s absence, the one to carry his trusted hammer, Mjolnir, is none other than Natasha.
During a battle with the Frost Giants, Black Widow picked up the hammer and was transformed into the Goddess of Thunder.
Nat may have a morally questionable background, but not just anyone is deemed worthy of wielding the weapon of a god.
13 The other Black Widows
Natasha isn’t the only character to go by the name Black Widow. The second modern character to go by that codename was Yelena Belova. Like Natasha, she received her training in the Red Room. However, she was later altered by HYDRA. The evil organization turned Yelena into a Super-Adaptoid, with the ability to absorb powers.
Monica Chang also went by that codename in the Ultimate Universe. She was once married to Nick Fury and later became the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Monica has also appeared in mainstream continuity.
The Ultimate version of Jessica Drew was a female clone of Peter Parker who used the moniker of Black Widow.
There was another iteration named Tania in 2099 who was more like her namesake than Nat. She literally devoured men after romancing them.
12 Her Age of Ultron scars
Although the MCU takes its cues from the comics, most of the stories adapted are only very loosely based on the source material. Such was the case with Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The AoU storyline in the comics was quite different. In a very bleak future, Ultron had completely conquered Earth and the remaining heroes had to figure out a way to change the course of history, which led to some pretty dire consequences.
Some of these future versions of the characters appeared different, but Natasha’s look had changed rather drastically.
She was sporting a dark cloak, mostly to cover how badly her face had been disfigured.
When Ultron took over, Nat had escaped his sentinels with her life, but was quite literally scarred by the experience.
11 Scarlett Johansson had 3 stunt doubles to hide her pregnancy
The production of Avengers: Age of Ultron was complicated by the fact that Scarlett Johansson found out she was pregnant shortly before filming began.
Director Joss Whedon stated that they would find a way to make it work, telling Entertainment Weekly, "She's not going to spend the whole movie carrying groceries.” Well, she certainly didn’t, but much of that was thanks to her three stunt doubles.
Johansson’s face was grafted onto the bodies of the stunt doubles in post production.
Thanks to some movie magic, her baby bump was never in sight during the film. Chris Evans joked about always thinking that he was seeing the actress because she had several doppelgängers walking around on set.
10 She ate Spider-Man
This comes from a single panel of What if…Spider-Man had Married the Black Widow?
The joke is, of course, referring to the black widow spider’s penchant for eating her mate. Interestingly, this is actually a bit of a myth. There are many different species of black widow and while some do, indeed, take the life of the male after mating is complete, there are plenty males who live on to mate another day.
It’s probably safe to assume that a relationship between Black Widow and Spider-Man wouldn’t work out too well anyway. Natasha needs someone who can hold his own against her - and not just in a fight. Peter is a sweetheart and Natasha, who is known for being a world class manipulator, might just eat him alive.
9 She used to have black hair
Scarlett Johansson’s hair has changed with just about every appearance she’s made in the MCU. This not only makes sense for a spy, especially one who’s currently on the run, but also has roots in Natasha’s comic book history.
Although one of the Black Widow’s defining characteristics is her striking red hair, that wasn’t always the case. Initially, Nat had hair that matched her code name.
It was eventually revealed that her locks were only dyed black and that she was actually a natural-born redhead. This decision was made when the character got a makeover in the ‘70s, so perhaps it was meant to contrast her new black costume. Whatever the reason, Nat has been a redhead ever since.
8 She debuted in a very different costume
Black Widow’s costume has become so iconic that it’s strange to see how different she was upon her debut. She first appeared in Tales of Suspense #52 in 1964 and she wasn’t wearing a slinky catsuit.
Instead, Natasha was sporting an evening gown and veil.
The character was revamped in the ‘70s, given a costume inspired by Marla Drake, aka Miss Fury. Marla was created by June Tarpé Mills in the ‘40s. She was the first female superhero to come from the mind of a woman.
Legendary comic book artist John Romita had long been a fan and hoped to draw his own version of the character. Since Marvel had gotten the rights, his Spider-Man collaborator, Stan Lee, suggested that Romita simply give Black Widow a Miss Fury makeover, leading to the Widow’s signature look.
7 Hawkeye took her life
Although Nat was a villain when she was first introduced, it didn’t take too long for her to switch sides. However, the Black Widow of Earth-1610 only pretended to be one of the good guys. In reality, she was a monster who betrayed the entire team.
Revealing Bruce Banner as Hulk to the public, framing Captain America as a traitor, and taking the lives of Hawkeye’s wife and child were among her worst sins. Her duplicity was uncovered shortly before she and Tony Stark were to be married.
Sure, her treachery broke Tony’s heart, but we can all agree that Hawkeye had the biggest axe to grind here.
Clint didn’t flinch when he had the chance to take vengeance on her for what she did to his family. He ended her life without a second thought.
6 She has been both a zombie and a werewolf
Marvel Zombies spun out of events that happened in Ultimate Fantastic Four, but the story quickly took on a life of its own. It has spawned a plethora of miniseries over the years, all exploring exactly what the title promises: Marvel characters as zombies. Natasha was no exception.
She appeared as a member of the undead who was attempting to snack on the Silver Surfer.
Black Widow also showed up in Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness, but not as a zombie. This time she was actually a werewolf, although she still had a taste for human flesh. She and the others managed to consume Galactus. Now that’s a pretty serious meal.
5 She's been with Hercules and Doctor Doom
Bucky isn’t the only hero that Natasha has been romantically involved with. She also has a long history with both Hawkeye and Daredevil. Aside from that, she was once married to the Red Guardian. It was losing him - or at least thinking she had - that drove her deeper into the Red Room program.
While those are the most well known of Black Widow’s relationships, she has had some more surprising romances as well.
She and Hercules were a couple, but only for a short while.
Her strangest connection was perhaps the one she shared with Count Otto Von Doom in Marvel 1602. It ended with her losing her life, but that’s probably how most of Doctor Doom’s relationships are wrapped up.
4 Angela Bowie almost portrayed her in a TV series
Angela Bowie is best known as the former wife of the legendary David Bowie, as well as for being the inspiration behind the Rolling Stones song, “Angie” - Mick Jagger was in love with her at one point.
What you may not know is that in 1975 she got the television rights for Daredevil and Black Widow in the hopes of making a show in which she would star as Natasha and Ben Carruthers would play Matt Murdock.
Sadly, all that exists of this delightfully strange project are these publicity shots with outfits created by David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust era designer, Natasha Kornikoff.
The series was never green-lit, having been considered too expensive to make. It’s still fun to imagine who David Bowie could’ve potentially portrayed. He would’ve made an awesome Purple Man.
3 Claire Voyant was the original Black Widow
While it is true that Black Widow was Marvel’s first female hero, that version of the character had nothing to do with Natasha.
Timely Comics created Claire Voyant in 1940. She was a psychic who lost her life and returned as a servant of Satan. Claire was responsible for taking the lives of bad guys; aiding the devil in getting their souls in a more timely manner.
Claire held the distinction of being the first female hero, but only appeared a few times. Although other heroines beat Nat to the punch back when Marvel was still Timely Comics, she was the first to get her own series following the company’s evolution. However, her Amazing Adventures costars, the Inhumans, stole her thunder.
These days, though, thanks to the MCU, Black Widow is a far more popular character.
2 She lost her life and was replaced by a clone
Here’s where it gets complicated. Natasha lost her life during the events of Secret Empire. We all know that gone never means gone for good in superhero comics, so when she returned, it wasn’t all that shocking. However, the circumstances of her seemingly miraculous resurrection were far from expected.
The returned Black Widow was not the OG Natasha, but a clone of her. In fact, the Red Room had been cloning all of their agents for quite some time. These doppelgängers aren’t blank slates, either. They have their memories reinstalled - at least the parts that the Red Room wants remembered - eliminating the need to retrain agents.
The difference for Natasha is that her memories were returned to her in their entirety, meaning that she still knows where her loyalties lie. It’s unclear how many times Nat has relived this experience.
1 She was almost played by Emily Blunt
Emily Blunt was a rising star when she was cast in Iron Man 2 in 2009. She originally landed the role of Black Widow. However, prior contractual obligations caused the role to go to Scarlett Johansson, who had initially lost the role to Blunt.
While Blunt was forced to appear in Gulliver’s Travels, Johansson became the MCU’s Natasha Romanoff. The actress has no regrets about the situation, feeling that men get all of the MCU’s best stories anyway.
This may have been true, but Black Panther seemed to signal a change in the tide, with T’Challa often taking a backseat to his incredible female costars. Captain Marvel seems likely to continue this trend.
Blunt is definitely a great actress, but at this point, it’s difficult to imagine anyone other than Johansson suiting up as Black Widow.
Do you know any other surprising facts about Black Widow's body? Let us know in the comments!