The Black Widow debuted as an adversary for Iron Man in an issue of Marvel’s Tales Of Suspense more than 50 years ago. Natalia Romanova became Natasha Romanoff and a host of other aliases in the decades since. She’s worked as a spy, an Avenger, and even been the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. over the years. In that time, she’s picked up a lot of skills.
Many of Natasha’s skills come from her days as a member of the Red Room Academy. There, she trained to become the world’s best assassin - and she succeeded. Eventually, she defected from Russia to become a spy for America, trying to put the “red in her ledger,” as the Marvel Cinematic Universe dubbed it, behind her.
Enhanced thanks to a super soldier serum in the comics, and specialized training in the movies, Natasha isn’t someone we usually think of with super powers. Comic book fans know that super powers can come in the strangest of times. An alternate universe or a one-off experience could produce a whole new ability for a familiar character. Of course, for every power, there’s also a weakness to put the hero in their place.
We’ve taken a look through Natasha’s history as Avengers: Endgame brings her back to the big screen, and we’ve put together 10 Powers Only Super Fans Know Black Widow Has (And 10 Strange Weaknesses).
20 Power: Hypnosis
Long time fans of Black Widow might be surprised to know the super spy has this ability. In the normal comic book continuity, and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she doesn’t appear to. She does, however, in another universe.
The Marvel Comics Mutant-X continuity features a lot of familiar characters with additional power sets. In the case of Black Widow, she added hypnosis to her arsenal. Of course, there are some fans who wonder if she has that ability in the usual version of her story as well since she’s so often able to get people to do what she wants.
19 Weaknesses: Fashion Design
There was a time in Marvel Comics where every heroine wanted a job in either fashion design or television. Even Black Widow tried her hand at the former.
When she left S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers behind, Black Widow decided to take some time for herself in San Francisco. While living there, she attempted to give up the heroic lifestyle. Her foray into fashion design didn’t lead anywhere. Comic book fans might have been able to guess it wouldn’t considering her early costumes for espionage work would have been better in a ballroom.
18 Power: Slowed Aging
Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes aren’t the only ones in the Marvel Universe to have stronger metabolisms and slowed aging as a result of a super soldier serum.
When Natalia Alianova Romanova officially became an agent of the Red Room in her native Russia, her job came with some modifications. One of those was an injection of their version of a super soldier serum. It slowed her aging enough to look like she’s still in her 30s in the modern day, even though she was born in the 1920s. She didn’t even have to be frozen for that to happen.
17 Weakness: Partnerships
There’s no denying that, despite her penchant for keeping secrets, Black Widow is an excellent team player. She’s great at cataloging her team’s strengths and weaknesses, and she’s always willing to make the sacrifice play for the greater good. When she partners up, that’s a whole different story.
Black Widow has, from time to time, decided to leave teams behind in the comics. She’s partnered up (in more ways than one) with the likes of the Winter Soldier and Daredevil. The problem is that their partnership reaches a point where she realizes she doesn’t want to be anyone’s sidekick. Natasha is always the first to bail.
16 Power: Super Reflexes
Superheroes going up against super villains need to have fast reflexes. Some of them are faster than others. Black Widow is able to see her enemies movements and keep track of them to such a degree of accuracy that she can actually dodge gunfire in the comics.
In the movies, Captain America: The Winter Soldier showed us this too. She was able to push Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson out of the way of bullets while they were in the middle of a car chase. When sprinting through the street, she also wove her path to make sure no civilians ended up as collateral damage.
15 Weakness: Guilt
While a lot of Black Widow fans would like to say joining S.H.I.E.L.D., and later the Avengers, caused her to turn over a new leaf, that isn’t entirely the case. She isn’t a hero in the way that Captain America and Iron Man are. Her wish to do good stems from guilt rather than a need to do the right thing.
Black Widow holds a lot of guilt for all the things she did as part of the Red Room. A member of an elite group of assassins, there was no job too dirty. That guilt drives her to attempt to tip the scales, making up for the things she did in her past. Sometimes, that guilt causes her to make questionable decisions that aren’t actually what’s best for her team.
14 Power: Peak Strength
Part of Black Widow’s super soldier serum advantage is that she’s considered a “peak human specimen,” just like Captain America. That means she can train her body to become as strong or as fast as physically possible for a woman of her size.
Comics like the Mighty Avengers: Most Wanted Files gave stats on many of the fan favorite characters. There, the reveal occurred that Black Widow can actually lift up to 500 pounds. Of course, she downplays that in other comics, believing other “regular” vigilantes are stronger than her, like the Punisher.
13 Weakness: The Winter Soldier
Not many of Natasha’s adversaries are able to get the jump on her in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One we know for sure that can easily overpower her is Bucky Barnes AKA the Winter Soldier.
He once shot right through Natasha on a mission to get to a target, leaving her with one of the only visible scars she has in the movies. Bucky Barnes also happens to be the only person we’ve seen quickly and easily stop her in her tracks, like when he gains the upper hand on her in Captain America: Civil War.
The two also have a romantic history in the comics that makes him a whole different kind of weakness for her that we haven’t seen in the movies.
12 Power: Resurrection
Natalia Romanova isn’t like Mister Immortal. Her superpower doesn’t involve straight up resurrection, but sometimes, it certainly seems like it does. The Black Widow has been at the center of a few cataclysmic events in the comics where time, and the universe itself, simply reset and she gets to come back to life. There is also a more unique method to her “resurrection.”
In the Civil War II storyline, she lost her life protecting Spider-Man from the same fate at the hands of Captain America. She resurfaced not long after. As it turned out, the Red Room had something of a Black Widow fail safe as clones of her - with all of her memories - exist. One is now the primary Black Widow in the comics.
11 Weakness: Infertility
While we wouldn’t normally consider infertility as a weakness for a hero (or anyone, for that matter), we can’t ignore what Natasha sees as her own weakness.
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Natasha revealed to Bruce Banner what she thought of as the “monstrous” part of her past. To graduate from the Red Room, she was sterilized to prevent her from forming an attachment as a mother. Setting aside the fact that she could still form attachments to children she didn’t give birth to (like the Barton family), the idea was that it would make her a better spy and assassin. Natasha saw it as making her a monster, whether that’s true or not.
10 Power: Strong Will
Many of the things that created the Black Widow, and caused painful memories for her, also happened to provide her with some serious power. One of those was the way the Red Room tampered with her mind.
The people who ran the Red Room brainwashed Natalia into following their missions, but years later, she was able to come out of that. She broke free from their hold, and it’s nearly impossible for anyone else to hold her as a result. Natalia developed a will so strong that almost no amount of tampering with her mind works.
9 Weakness: Ego
As a result of her intensive training, Natalia Romanova became the best at what she did. The Black Widow eventually became one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s best agents. Her very few failures meant that she developed something of an ego.
Black Widow, often rightfully, believed herself to be the most capable person in any room. As someone who could fight, lie, hack, and investigate better than nearly any spy or hero out there, she was often right. Her ego, however, made her butt heads with heroes younger, and often more powerful, than her in the comics. Spending too much time arguing, or working alone, isn’t always good for her.
8 Power: Walking On Walls
Many of the heroes and villains who have a spider-related name have the power to walk on walls. Black Widow doesn’t claim that as a super power in the normal comic book continuity - not exactly.
During the early days of her spy games, Black Widow’s costume did have tiny suction cups on her costume that allowed her to cling to the sides of buildings. She used that to get into places undetected.
In the Mutant-X comic book continuity, she didn’t need the suction cups. Instead, she had all the powers of the Spider-Man we know and love. She could actually stick to the sides of buildings because the power was in her skin.
7 Weakness: Hawkeye
For a usually unsentimental woman, the MCU gave Natasha a lot of emotional moments. The Black Widow also has a particular attachment to the Barton family, and their patriarch Clint.
Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye recruited her into S.H.I.E.L.D. The two forged a bond so strong that she’s willing to drop any mission to help him. We see it when she leaves her “interrogation” in The Avengers, and when she’s not willing to pull him away from his family in Avengers: Infinity War.
Avengers: Endgame also proves just how far she’s willing to go for him, proving that he’s one major weakness in her life.
6 Power: Super Jumping
Being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound is usually more of a power for those who can fly. There are, however, a few people who rely on the strength of their muscles to do this instead.
Like being able to lift a ridiculous amount of weight with her arms, the Black Widow can use her legs to do the same. She’s able to use her strength to propel herself in an impressive vertical jump. According to her experiences working with Captain America in the comics, she can jump at least 10 feet straight up. That’s pretty impressive.
5 Weakness: Her Own Memory
The Black Widow holds serious will power thanks to her experience with brainwashing and conditioning. That doesn’t mean her memory is always reliable.
Natasha’s original story had her as a willing spy for her country, someone who grew up under the care of a man who saved her from a fire, and a true femme fatale. Later retconning revealed her memories of being a ballerina - and much about her childhood - was planted. Even decades later, Natasha still has trouble separating real memories from planted memories.
4 Power: Cover Identities
Despite her own memory fooling her on occasion, Natasha still has a trick up her sleeve as a result of all those extra memories. She can actually access old “programming” in her brain.
The Red Room manipulated her mind as an operative to give her new skills and personalities for different cover identities. Think of it like them employing the tricks of the Joss Whedon series Dollhouse on her. Years later, however, the joke’s on the Red Room because Natasha can still access those cover identities and use their skills.
3 Weakness: Cats
Surprisingly, this spider-themed heroine has a soft spot for felines. One of her earliest missions in the comics, the product of a retcon, involved taking out a former classmate, her entire circle, and the woman’s cat. Since then, cats have been a bit of a trigger for Natasha’s guilty conscience.
A recent solo series even had Natasha taking care of a stray cat near her apartment. She fed the cat every time she was back in town, even letting it stay inside, despite her appearance of having no attachments.
2 Power: The Power Of Mjolnir
The MCU might not have shown us (yet) if the Black Widow is worthy of Thor’s hammer, but the comics certainly did.
Part of one of Marvel’s What If stories, Thor lost his life, leaving his hammer in the middle of the ground to be claimed by someone new. It was the Black Widow who was able to lift Mjolnir from the ground and use it in an apocalyptic world. She became a goddess and fought alongside Shang-Chi, Nick Fury, Silver Sable, Falcon, and Microchip when the majority of the Avengers were destroyed.
1 Weakness: Cold War Era Cells
Though the Black Widow encountered plenty of bad guys during the Cold War era of Marvel Comics, in the movies, a product of the age managed to one of her biggest weaknesses.
During the events of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Natasha found herself captured and locked in a Cold War era prison cell. Unable to escape, she was able to get out a coded message to her friends.
It’s an odd choice to trap Natasha considering she’s able to break into high tech government facilities in Captain America: The Winter Soldier with no problem at all. Maybe the concrete wall was just too much for her?
Were you already in the know regarding the powers and weaknesses of Black Widow? Were some of these a surprise to you? Let us know in the comments.