For many superheroes nowadays, there exists a comic book and a cinematic version. Black Widow, created by Stan Lee, Don Rico, and Don Heck for Marvel, has had many guest starring roles over the years in comics. Many of her early series were short runs between 3 and 10 issues. Black Widow is best known for defecting to the United States and becoming a member of the Avengers after turning her back on her assassin/spy life in the Soviet Union.
Of course, the name Black Widow often conjures up the Marvel Cinematic Universe version, played by Scarlett Johansson. With the upcoming 2019 Avengers film, Johansson will make her 7th appearance as Black Widow.
Most fans of Black Widow typically follow the movie or the comic book version, which means a fan may only know the facts of either version, but not both. Oddly enough, there is very little in common between the information on the comic book version and the movie version, and that makes it harder to really debate the intricacies of Black Widow. What one person gets wrong about the character is right in another person’s mind.
However, there are some details about Black Widow that everyone gets confused about, plus information that is considered right if you follow the comic book version or the movie version. If you had a tendency to focus on one or the other, then be prepared to add to your knowledge of Black Widow.
Here are 20 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Black Widow.
20 Her Name
Most superheroes have secret identities along with the heroic alteregos. Some of the more common or well-known ones are Peter Parker for Spider-man and Bruce Banner for The Hulk. And Black Widow isn’t just Black Widow: she also had a real name.
You might know Black Widow as Natasha Romanoff, but when she was born in the Soviet Union, she had a more natural name: Natalia Romanova.
When she moved to America, she most likely wanted a less Russian-sounding name to avoid attention and judgment. She Westernized her Russian name to Natasha Romanoff. It was Romanoff who debuted in her first comic in 1964.
19 She was always an Avenger
As mentioned in the previous entry, Black Widow’s debut as the Natasha we know toda was in 1964 in Tales of Suspense #52. Before she began assisting the Avengers, she was an arch-enemy of S.H.I.E.L.D. and other Marvel superheroes.
Because of her training, she obtained the most difficult missions. One of her first ones was assassinating Iron Man. That failed, but she soon went up against Spider-Man. Around this time she met Hawkeye, who was also an enemy of Marvel’s good guys.
The two fell in love, and both chose to turn to the good side. Natasha defected to the U.S., and she and Hawkeye aligned themselves with the Avengers. The couple split, but it cemented both of them as popular characters in the Avengers legacy.
18 She Always Wore a superhero Costume
Black Widow was trained in, well, everything. She had skills born of scientific means and natural abilities that took years to develop.
In terms of costumes, it also took some time for her to find her “uniform” as you know it today.
As a spy, one of her talents is disguise and impersonation. And Natasha excelled in that regards. Because of that, she had to wear regular clothes or the clothes of whoever she mimicked.
However, it didn’t matter what she wore, Natasha/Black Widow still carried herself with an air of sophistication and grace. And the capability to strike you down with her combat skills at a moment’s notice.
17 She Isn't Really A Superhero
Most think of a superhero as one changed by some event or science experiment gone wrong, transforming person’s physical or physiological makeup so much they are imbued with unique powers or abilities. Black Widow is a superhero in the traditional sense.
Going by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Widow is simply a highly-trained human being. Way back when Black Widow first appeared, she was in a group called the Black Widow program.
Natasha was injected with a serum (yes, like Captain America) to give her super-abilities like agility and enhanced strength.
Essentially, she is the Russian Steve Rogers as some comic books fans refer to her.
16 Marvel Never Considered A Movie Before 2010
Black Widow made her cinematic debut in Iron Man 2 and eventually procured larger and larger roles (and screen time) as more and more Avengers movies released.
Prior to her first appearance, Black Widow nearly had her own movie around 2004.
The writer of X-Men was hired to write a Black Widow script for the studio Lionsgate. The screenplay focused on Black Widow’s origin story, beginning with her early years as an orphan and Red Room training.
At that time, females were dominating lead roles movies, but female-driven action movies were not as successful as others. Aeon Flux was considered a failure by Lionsgate, so the studio became nervous and canceled the Black Widow movie 3 days after Aeon Flux’s movie premiere.
15 She was the first Black Widow
Natasha Romanoff (or Natalia Romanova) wasn’t the original Black Widow. Marvel had another woman named Black Widow about 20 years prior to Romanoff’s comic debut.
In the years 1940-1943, Madame Claire Voyant took on the Black Widow moniker as a psychic who battled others on a whim. Voyant was in 5 comics total, and had minimal abilities compared to the later Black Widow.
Due to her origin story, Claire could transfer herself to hell by teleportation. The Madame is completely unrelated to the spy version of the Black Widows.
While she vanished in the 1940s, you can read her in the Marvel story arc The Twelve. Wouldn’t it be interesting if Claire and Natasha met in person?
14 And the last Black Widow
Claire Voyant was technically the first Black Widow until Natasha Romanoff came along and took over. But Natasha wasn’t the only Black Widow to emerge from Marvel.
Yelena Belova got the name Black Widow in 1999 with the Inhumans #5 issue.
She had an official introduction with the Marvel Knights mini-series, which had been titled Black Widow. Belova had a mini-series all to herself in 2001 called Pale Little Spider.
There was a another mini-series in 2002 where Daredevil and Natasha Romanoff were featured, and then 3-month story arc in 2002 written by Greg Rucka. It was part of the Marvel MAX imprint. This mini-series explored her origin of being the second Black Widow of modern times and took place before the Inhumans issue.
13 There's Only One Origin Story
Depending on who you consider the “real” Black Widow, each one has a different origin story. Claire Voyant was resurrected by the Devil, as mentioned in a previous entry.
Natasha Romanoff married Alexi Shostakov in a forced marriage by the Soviets. They grew to love each other regardless, but soon, the Soviets faked Alexi’s demise. This propels Natasha to study harder at the Red Room Academy and eventually become Black Widow due to training and the injection of a serum.
Yelena Belova was trained at the Red Room from an early age, along with Natasha. It took the loss of her trainer, Pytor Vasilievich for her to get activated by the Black Widow program.
Belova always thought she deserved the name Black Widow, but when she and Natasha finally battle, Natasha convinces Belova to go and become more than a Black Widow.
12 Her Birthdate
Debating Black Widow’s birth date revolves around which Black Widow you tend to believe is the real Black Widow.
For those who follow Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, her birthday is November 22, 1984. This makes her 33 years old at the time of the last Avengers movie, Infinity Wars, which released April 2018.
If you stick to the comics, then her birth date changes noticeably.
Romanoff was born in 1928. When she had her first appearances in Tales of Suspense, she would have been 36.
In either case, Black Widow always looks like she’s the same age. One of the main reasons is that the serum she was given has the ability to resist aging.
11 Scarlett Johansson is her only portrayer
Scarlett Johansson is Black Widow. She's who Marvel chose to represent this superhero. While other actresses were considered for the role initially (see later), there was another actress who actually played her on screen.
Jenny Agutter was the other actress who became Black Widow.
Granted, she played the superhero in disguise in Captain America: Winter Soldier. Agutter is best known for her vast number of British TV shows and movies, but Winter Soldier wasn’t her only Marvel movie.
Another part she had was playing Councilwoman Hawley of the World Security Council in The Avengers. Besides Black Widow in disguise, she reprised the Hawley role for Winter Soldier.
10 Her Limited Powers
You can’t deny Black Widow’s fighting prowess and proficiency as a spy, but those aren’t the only abilities and powers she has, though you may never visually see what she can do as a superhero.
Because of the serum she was injected with, Black Widow’s aging process is significantly slowed. Her immune system is augmented, which means she can heal faster than most superheros and humans. With her enhanced reflexes, Black Widow can respond to opponents in hand-to-hand combat quicker, but she’s also been known to dodge bullets!
Her body is extremely resilient, surviving punishing blows from villains and enemies as if only a feather touched her.
There has also been an instance, during a Daredevil comic series, where she fell from a tall building into a dumpster, only to get out and walk away and resume the fight.
9 Has Only Been An Avenger/Spy
There is more to Natasha Romanoff than just being Black Widow. She was not just an Avenger or spy.
Because of her training and undercover work, Natasha has assumed real jobs outside of her spy work. At one point, she had been tasked to go undercover as Nancy Rushman, a schoolteacher. This identity resurfaced during an attack when HYDRA tried to take over S.H.I.E.L.D.
Natasha also attempted to start a life as a fashion designer. There are story lines and comic sequences that show Natasha Romanoff had an accomplished ballet career, but some story arcs only go so far as to say that training was brainwashed into her. Either way, she has the moves of a ballerina.
8 She Was A Ballerina
Many fans argue about some of Black Widow’s origins, especially when it comes to her life as a ballerina. Some speculate that Natasha Romanoff was a ballerina and had training specifically to be one at a professional level. However, that wasn’t really the case.
Part of her training included ballet, probably to teach her smooth and graceful moves for fighting. Later in her comic series, her backstories reflected tough training in the spy facility that included having false memories embedded in her mind. This caused Romanoff to remember her time at the Bolshoi ballet training as a ballerina.
Black Widow does have dancing skills, and it’s highly likely that either instance - actual training or the memories - occurred.
Or that her ballerina abilities were a result of both.
7 Marvel Only Wanted Johansson
Back when Marvel was casting the Black Widow character, Scarlett Johansson was not the first choice. With Johansson in so many movies as Black Widow now, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in that role.
Initially, Emily Blunt was given the role and was all set to begin filming Iron Man 2.
However, Blunt had to decline the role as she was already filming Gulliver’s Travels and the schedules of the two movies conflicted.
Other actresses were considered for the part of Black Widow, probably because of their previous action movies. Angelina Jolie (Tomb Raider) and Eliza Dushku (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) gave Marvel other choices. Also, the studio considered Natalie Portman. She didn’t get the part - it’s not known why - but she later played Jane Foster in the Thor franchise.
6 She's the first Black Widow in the MCU
An interesting addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Dottie Underwood trained in the early Black Widow program at the Red Room Academy. She eventually became a member of the Soviet agency Leviathan, specializing in espionage.
As a young girl, she was indoctrinated with skills to turn her into an elite assassin. She dispatched a friend in 1937, even though Underwood and the girl had become close; a sparring match instigated by their trainers saw to the girl’s end.
In season 2 of Agent Carter, Underwood was the main villain, but her arch-enemy status changed to ally when Agent Carter needed Underwood’s help to fight against the Council of Nine and Whitney Frost. Dottie was played by Bridget Regan.
5 The Avengers Always Trusted Her
Black Widow started out as an enemy to certain Avengers. Of course, we know she allied with them in the end, but the Avengers didn’t always trust her. If you’re a fan of the Avengers movies, then you’ll notice that many of the Avengers question Black Widow’s endgame.
In The Ultimates comic series, Black Widow could not be trusted.
She betrayed the Ultimates team and assisted a group called the Liberators.
The Ultimates version of Natasha also “leaked” a video tape of Tony Stark and her “getting close" to the world at large. Hawkeye tracked her down and dealt with her.
4 Hawkeye and Black Widow's real relationship
There’s contention over her relationship with Hawkeye. Depending on what canon you prefer, Hawkeye was either her friend, enemy, or lover.
In the Ultimate Marvel comics, Black Widow eliminates Tony Stark’s butler before doing the same to Hawkeye’s family. Hawkeye does get revenge.
However, in the movies, Hawkeye and Black Widow are close -- best friends, actually. Hawkeye has a daughter named Natasha. In The Winter Soldier, Black Widow dons an arrow necklace to honor him, which was a request of Scarlett Johansson herself.
In some of the comic storylines and in the animated Avengers TV show, Hawkeye fell in love with Black Widow. Now whether Black Widow returns the love has yet to be seen.
3 She Only Has Physical Powers
Black Widow can fight. She can run fast. She can take a punch better than many superheroes. And Black Widow’s reflexes are bar none. However, Natasha/Black Widow has more than physical abilities.
One of the training regimes in the Red Room for Black Widows was brainwashing the spies into believing their undercover identities were real. These memories are so ingrained that in later issues, Black Widow can access them to use them without fear of losing her own identity.
Since she was harshly “programmed” by the Black Widow program, one other ability is her resistance to mental attacks and battles.
Her experience in early life has allowed her to withstand mental torture and hypnosis if an enemy decides to use that against her.
2 The leather catsuit is her original costume
Black Widow’s iconic “uniform” or suit is instantly recognizable as hers. Black and leather, but flexible enough to allow Black Widow to use her powerful fighting combos. Before that, she mostly wore regular clothes.
Back when she first appeared, Natasha wore a cocktail dress and a veil.
It wasn’t entirely practical, especially when she needed to fight. Kicking in a skirt isn’t the most sensible. Still, this look endured for many years.
She met Hawkeye, then switched over to a more traditional superhero look of a blue cape and mask and a fishnet bodysuit. It made sense early in her career to wear various normal clothing due to undercover work, so hopefully if Black Widow ever had to do that again she’ll choose glamorous outerwear like she did in the beginning.
1 Natasha Wanted To Be A Spy Forever
Natasha Romanoff was trained as a spy. She took to the spy life quickly since that’s all she really knew when entering the real world. Sometimes, even hardened villains and superheroes dream of doing something different with their lives - something normal.
Black Widow was no different. She wanted out of the world of fighting crime. She wanted life away to forget her time in the Red Room.
One comic book story arc involved Black Widow and Daredevil, who were in a relationship. They moved to San Francisco to live out normal lives. While they were there, Natasha had decided that she wanted to try a career as a fashion designer. That career - and her relationship with Daredevil - obviously didn't work out.
What else do people misunderstand about Black Widow? Let us know in the comments!