We’re still waiting on the Black Widow solo movie in the MCU. Marvel Studios has announced various developments over the years, as millions of fans and Scarlett Johansson herself have campaigned for it, and it seems to be slowly moving forward as writers and a director have been hired.
With the MCU releasing its first ever female-led movie, Captain Marvel, in a few weeks, the Black Widow movie might not be far behind. Hopefully, it’ll fill in some of the gaps in the character’s rich, detailed origin story. In the meantime, here are 10 facts about Natasha Romanoff before she became Black Widow.
10 She was born in Stalingrad
Natasha Romanoff was born in Stalingrad, one of the biggest industrial cities in Russia. The city is now called Volgograd, and before it was Volgograd, it was called Tsaritsyn. But when Romanoff was born, it was called Stalingrad. During this time, it was the site of one of the biggest and bloodiest battles in the history of everything: the Battle of Stalingrad.
If the Black Widow solo movie ever happens, it’ll have a rich historical backdrop. It’ll be able to do with Russian history what Captain America: The First Avenger did with America’s involvement in World War II – bring superhero elements to a beautifully realized period piece.
9 She mastered the use of a weapon called the “Widow’s Bite”
While Natasha Romanoff was in her early training in Russia, she was trained to use a weapon called the “Widow’s Bite.” These are mounted on her wrists and give whoever she attacks an electroshock.
In the MCU, this weapon was created by the Tech Directorate of S.H.I.E.L.D., but in the comics, she was given it in Russia before she defected to the United States. Also, in the MCU, the weapon is called the “Black Widow’s Bite,” whereas in the comics, it was simply called the “Widow’s Bite.” The MCU changes little things and it makes the canon very confusing.
8 She didn’t originally have a costume
While we now know Black Widow for her iconic black jumpsuit, she didn’t always have a costume. When she was first trained as a spy in the Soviet Union, Natasha Romanoff didn’t have a signature costume that she wore on missions. Instead, she would just put on some evening wear and a veil.
Sure, this might’ve looked cool and the veil fits in nicely with the “widow” motif, but it’s a little formal for an ass-kicking super spy. Plus, the use of evening wear is impractical – it wouldn’t allow for Romanoff’s acrobatic physicality. So, all in all, the flexible jumpsuit was a smart call.
7 She modeled under the name Natalie Rushman in Tokyo
In Iron Man 2, as Tony Stark does a background check on Natasha Romanoff, he discovers some photos she took as a lingerie model in Tokyo. It was part of an undercover mission in the city and she did it under the name Natalie Rushman.
Tony is impressed by the photos and says to Pepper Potts, “Did you model in Tokyo? ‘Cuz she modeled in Tokyo.” But it was all a cover. She adopted the alias, did the photo shoot, and released the photos, all as a cover while she was working on a mission in the Japanese capital city.
6 She was raised by Ivan Petrovich
A middle-aged man named Ivan Petrovich raised Natasha Romanoff as his own daughter after being granted full custody of her by a woman who lost her life in the Battle of Stalingrad. He’s her chauffeur and closest ally, even as an adult. Petrovich is a bona fide badass in his own right.
He saved Natasha from the Nazis who had captured her during World War II with the help of Captain America and pre-Wolverine Logan. This will never happen in the MCU, because it involves a Marvel character owned by Fox, the timeline doesn’t line up, and Black Widow’s whole origin story has since been retconned to remove Petrovich. Still, it’s a cool moment from the comics.
5 She defected to the U.S. for Hawkeye
While a number of MCU viewers might dismiss Clint Barton (a.k.a. Hawkeye) as a useless or boring character, he means a lot to Natasha Romanoff – so much, in fact, that her decision to defect to the U.S. from Russia was based on her affection for him.
There were a bunch of other reasons for her to defect and start working exclusively for S.H.I.E.L.D., despite her Soviet training, but the number one reason was her love for Clint Barton. Suffice to say, if the long-awaited Black Widow solo movie ever actually happens, Jeremy Renner will have a lot of screen time to enjoy.
4 She was almost stuck in an arranged marriage
Romanoff almost found herself stuck in an arranged marriage after the KGB decided she would marry Alexei Shostakov, a famed test pilot working for the Soviet Union. However, shortly after they got married, the Soviet powers chose Shostakov to be their new secret operative under the name “the Red Guardian.”
Once he’d accepted the job, he could no longer have any contact with his wife. Romanoff simply got a message telling her that her husband had died and she was taken to be trained as a solo agent. In a different course of events, she never would’ve joined the Avengers at all.
3 She was trained in the “Red Room”
Romanoff was trained in martial arts, espionage, and the use of various firearms from a young age in a covert facility called the “Red Room.” We saw snippets of this training in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and it’ll likely be fleshed out if she ever gets a solo movie.
She explained one of their procedures to Bruce Banner: “In the Red Room, where I was trained, where I was raised, um, they have a graduation ceremony. They sterilize you. It’s efficient. One less thing to worry about. The one thing that might matter more than a mission. Makes everything easier – even killing.”
2 She was born Natalia Romanova
A lot of MCU fans know Black Widow by the name Natasha Romanoff, but that’s actually an alias. She was born Natalia Romanova and adopted the fake name “Natasha Romanoff” to evade her many enemies. Sometimes pop culture’s spies will create aliases that are vastly different from their birth names. David Webb, for example, became Jason Bourne, which is totally different from his real name.
But Black Widow has proven you don’t need a fancy, extravagant, made-up alias. All you have to do is tweak your own name. Natasha Romanoff is a completely different name than Natalia Romanova, despite the minor changes. It means she doesn’t have to change too much in her life; just enough to go off the radar.
1 Hawkeye was sent to kill her
When Natasha Romanoff first got involved with S.H.I.E.L.D., it wasn’t through a job application or interview process. In fact, as she says herself, she was on their radar “in a bad way.” They sent Clint Barton, better known as Hawkeye, to eliminate her.
However, he decided to ignore the order and became her friend instead. He could see that she was skilled and had been trained well, so he decided to develop a partnership with her. The two have since been on missions all over the world and they’ve always got each other’s backs. It just goes to show, you meet your best friends in the strangest ways.