Black Widow (Natasha Romanova)
Black Widow #1 (April 2010). Cover art by Daniel Acuña.
|First appearance||Tales of Suspense #52 (April 1964)|
|Alter ego||Natalia Alianovna Romanova|
Heroes for Hire
|Notable aliases||Natalie Rushman, Laura Matthers, Mary Farrell, Natasha Romanoff, Oktober, Yelena Belova|
Natalia Alianovna Romanova (Russian: Наталья Альяновна "Наташа" Романова; alias: Natasha Romanoff; Russian: Наташа Романофф), colloquial: Black Widow (Russian: Чёрная Вдова; transliterated Chyornaya Vdova) is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by editor and plotter Stan Lee, scripter Don Rico, and artist Don Heck, the character debuted in Tales of Suspense #52 (April 1964). The character was introduced as a Russian spy, an antagonist of the superhero Iron Man. She later defected to the United States, becoming an agent of the fictional spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D., and a member of the superhero team the Avengers.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Powers and abilities
- 4 Supporting characters
- 5 Other versions
- 6 In other media
- 7 Reception
- 8 Collected editions
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The Black Widow's first appearances were as a recurring, non-costumed, Russian-spy antagonist in the feature "Iron Man", beginning in Tales of Suspense #52 (April 1964). Five issues later, she recruits the besotted costumed archer and later superhero Hawkeye to her cause. Her government later supplies her with her first Black Widow costume and high-tech weaponry, but she eventually defects to the United States after appearing, temporarily brainwashed against the U.S., in the superhero-team series The Avengers #29 (July 1966). The Widow later becomes a recurring ally of the team before officially becoming its sixteenth member many years later.
The Black Widow was visually updated in 1970: The Amazing Spider-Man #86 (July 1970) reintroduced her with shoulder-length red hair (instead of her former short black hair), a skintight black costume, and wristbands which fired spider threads. This would become the appearance most commonly associated with the character.
In short order, The Black Widow starred in her own series in Amazing Adventures #1–8 (Aug. 1970–Sept. 1971), sharing that split book with the feature Inhumans. The Black Widow feature was dropped after only eight issues (the Inhumans feature followed soon, ending with issue 10).
Immediately after her initial solo feature ended, the Black Widow co-starred in Daredevil #81–124 (Nov. 1971–Aug. 1975), of which #93-108 were cover titled Daredevil and the Black Widow. Daredevil writer Gerry Conway recounted, "It was my idea to team up Daredevil and the Black Widow, mainly because I was a fan of Natasha, and thought she and Daredevil would have interesting chemistry." Succeeding writers, however, felt that Daredevil worked better as a solo hero, and gradually wrote the Black Widow out of the series. She was immediately recast into the super-team series The Champions as the leader of the titular superhero group, which ran for 17 issues (Oct. 1975–Jan. 1978).
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the Black Widow appeared frequently as both an Avengers member and a freelance agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. She starred in a serialized feature within the omnibus comic-book series Marvel Fanfare #10–13 (Aug. 1983–March 1984), written by George Pérez and Ralph Macchio, with art by penciller Perez. These stories were later collected in the oversized one-shot Black Widow: Web of Intrigue #1 (June 1999).
A new ongoing Black Widow comic title debuted in April 2010. The first story arc was written by Marjorie Liu with art by Daniel Acuna. Beginning with issue #6 (Sept. 2010), the title was written by Duane Swierczynski, with artwork by Manuel Garcia and Lorenzo Ruggiero.
Black Widow appeared as a regular character throughout the 2010–2013 Secret Avengers series, from issue #1 (July 2010) through its final issue #37 (March 2013).
In October 2015, it was announced that Mark Waid and Chris Samnee would be launching a new Black Widow series for 2016 as part of Marvel's post-Secret Wars relaunch. The first issue was released in March 2016.
Limited series and specials
The three-issue Black Widow (June - Aug. 1999), under the Marvel Knights imprint, starred Romanova and fully introduced her appointed successor, Captain Yelena Belova, who had briefly appeared in an issue of the 1999 series Inhumans. The writer for the story arc, "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider" was Devin K. Grayson while J. G. Jones was the artist. The next three-issue, Marvel Knights mini-series, also titled Black Widow (Jan. - March 2001) featured both Black Widows in the story arc "Breakdown", by writers Devin Grayson and Greg Rucka with painted art by Scott Hampton.
Romanova next starred in another solo miniseries titled Black Widow: Homecoming (Nov. 2004 - April 2005), also under the Marvel Knights imprint and written by science fiction novelist Richard K. Morgan, with art initially by Bill Sienkiewicz and later by Sienkiewicz over Goran Parlov layouts. A six-issue sequel, Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her (Nov. 2005–April 2006; officially Black Widow 2: The Things They Say About Her in the series' postal indicia), by writer Morgan, penciller Sean Phillips, and inker Sienkiewicz, picks up immediately where the previous miniseries left off, continuing the story using many of the same characters.
She starred in the solo graphic novel Black Widow: The Coldest War (April 1990), and co-starred in three more: Punisher/Black Widow: Spinning Doomsday's Web (Dec. 1992); Daredevil/Black Widow: Abattoir (July 1993); and Fury/Black Widow: Death Duty (June 1995), also co-starring Marvel UK's Night Raven.
Black Widow is also featured in the short story Love Is Blindness in I Heart Marvel: Marvel Ai (2006) #1 (April 2006), where she instigates a humorous fight with Elektra over Daredevil's affections. The comic is stylized to look like Japanese animation and uses images, not words, inside the speech and thought bubbles to convey what the characters are saying/thinking.
In 2010, the year in which the character, called only Natasha Romanoff, made her film debut in Iron Man 2, the Black Widow received two separate miniseries. Black Widow and the Marvel Girls was an all-ages, four-issue series that chronicled her adventures with various women of the Marvel Universe, including Storm, She-Hulk, the Enchantress, and Spider-Woman. It was written by Paul Tobin, with art by Salvador Espin and Takeshi Miyazawa. The second four-issue miniseries, Black Widow: Deadly Origin, was written by Paul Cornell, and featured art by Tom Raney and John Paul Leon.
Fictional character biography
Natasha was born in Stalingrad (now Volgograd), Russia. The first and best-known Black Widow is a Russian agent trained as a spy, martial artist, and sniper, and outfitted with an arsenal of high-tech weaponry, including a pair of wrist-mounted energy weapons dubbed her "Widow's Bite". She wears no costume during her first few appearances but simply evening wear and a veil. Romanova eventually defects to the U.S. for reasons that include her love for the reluctant-criminal turned superhero archer, Hawkeye.
First hints to Natalia Romanova's childhood come by Ivan Petrovich, who is introduced as her middle-aged chauffeur and confidant in the Black Widow's 1970s Amazing Adventures. The man tells Matt Murdock how he had been given custody of little Natasha by a woman just before her death during the Battle of Stalingrad in autumn 1942. He had consequently felt committed to raise the orphan as a surrogate father and she had eventually trained as a Soviet spy, being eager to help her homeland. In another flashback, set in the fictional island of Madripoor in 1941, Petrovich helps Captain America and the mutant Logan, who would later become the Canadian super-agent and costumed hero Wolverine, to rescue Natasha from Nazis.
A revised, retconned origin establishes her as being raised from very early childhood by the U.S.S.R.'s "Black Widow Ops" program, rather than solely by Ivan Petrovitch. Petrovitch had taken her to Department X, with other young female orphans, where she was brainwashed, and trained in combat and espionage at the covert "Red Room" facility. There, she is biotechnologically and psycho-technologically enhanced—an accounting that provides a rationale for her unusually long and youthful lifespan. During that time she had some training under Winter Soldier, and the pair even had a short romance. Each Black Widow is deployed with false memories to help ensure her loyalty. Romanova eventually discovers this, including the fact that she had never, as she had believed, been a ballerina. She further discovers that the Red Room is still active as "2R".
Natasha was arranged by the KGB to marry the renowned Soviet test pilot Alexei Shostakov. However, when the Soviet government decided to make Alexei into their new operative, the Red Guardian, he is told that he can have no further contact with his wife. Natasha is told that he had died and is trained as a secret agent separately.
Romanova grew up to serve as a femme fatale. She was assigned to assist Boris Turgenov in the assassination of Professor Anton Vanko for defecting from the Soviet Union, which served as her first mission in the United States. Natasha and Turgenov infiltrated Stark Industries as part of the plan. She attempted to manipulate information from American defense contractor Tony Stark, and inevitably confronted his superhero alter ego, Iron Man. The pair then battled Iron Man, and Turgenov steals and wears the Crimson Dynamo suit. Vanko sacrificed himself to save Iron Man, killing Turgenov in the process, using an unstable experimental laser light pistol. Romanova later meets the criminal archer Hawkeye and sets him against Iron Man, and later helped Hawkeye battle Iron Man.
Natasha once more attempted to get Hawkeye to help her destroy Iron Man. The pair almost succeeded, but when Black Widow was injured, Hawkeye retreated to get her to safety. During this period, Romanova was attempting to defect from the Soviet Union and began falling in love with Hawkeye, weakening her loyalty to her country. When her employers learned the truth, the KGB had her gunned down, sending her to a hospital, convincing Hawkeye to go straight and seek membership in the Avengers.
The Red Room kidnaps and brainwashes her again, and with the Swordsman and the first Power Man, she battles the Avengers. She eventually breaks free from her psychological conditioning (with the help of Hawkeye), and does successfully defect, having further adventures with Spider-Man, with Hawkeye and with Daredevil.[volume & issue needed] She ultimately joins the Avengers as a costumed heroine herself.
S.H.I.E.L.D. and Daredevil
Later still, she begins freelancing as an agent of the international espionage group S.H.I.E.L.D. She is sent on a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. mission to China by Nick Fury. There, with the Avengers, she battles Col. Ling, Gen. Brushov, and her ex-husband the Red Guardian. For a time, as writer Les Daniels noted in a contemporaneous study in 1971,
... her left-wing upbringing was put to better use, and she has lately taken to fighting realistic oppressor-of-the-people types. She helps young Puerto Ricans clean up police corruption and saves young hippies from organized crime. ... [The splash page of Amazing Adventures #3 (Nov. 1970)] reflects the recent trend toward involving fantastic characters in contemporary social problems, a move which has gained widespread publicity for Marvel and its competitor, DC.
During her romantic involvement with Matt Murdock in San Francisco, she operates as an independent superhero alongside Murdock's alter ego, Daredevil. There she tries unsuccessfully to find a new career for herself as a fashion designer. Eventually, her relationship with Murdock stagnates, and after briefly working with Avengers finally breaks up with Murdock, fearing that playing "sidekick" is sublimating her identity. During a HYDRA attempt to take over S.H.I.E.L.D., she is tortured to such an extent that she regresses back to an old cover identity of schoolteacher Nancy Rushman, but she is recovered by Spider-Man in time to help Nick Fury and Shang-Chi work out what had happened and restore her memory, with "Nancy" developing an attraction to Spider-Man before her memory is restored during the final fight against Madam Viper, Boomerang and the Silver Samurai. She later returns to Matt Murdock's life to find he is romantically involved with another woman, Heather Glenn, prompting her to leave New York. Natasha ultimately realizes that Matt still only thinks of her in platonic terms, and elects to restrain herself from any advances.
After their breakup, the Widow moves to Los Angeles and becomes leader of the newly created and short-lived super team known as The Champions, consisting of her, Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), Hercules (with whom she has a brief romance), and former X-Men Angel and Iceman.
Her friends usually call her "Natasha", the informal version of "Natalia". She has sometimes chosen the last-name alias "Romanoff"—evidently as a private joke on those who are not aware that Russian family names use different endings for males and females. She has been hinted to be a descendant of the deposed House of Romanov and a relation to Nicholas II of Russia.
Natasha crosses Daredevil's (Matt Murdock) path again when he attempts to slay an infant he believes to be the Anti-Christ while under the influence of mind-altering drugs. After Daredevil's one-time love, Karen Page, dies protecting the child, Natasha reconciles with Murdock, revealing she still loves him, but noting that he is too full of anger to commit to a relationship with her.
Natasha is challenged by Yelena Belova, a graduate from the training program through which Natasha herself was taught the espionage trade, who is the first to ever surpass Natasha's marks and considers herself the rightful successor to the "Black Widow" mantle. Natasha refers to her as "little one" and "rooskaya (meaning "Russian"), and encourages her to discover her individuality rather than live in blind service, asking her "why be Black Widow, when you can be Yelena Belova?" After several confrontations, Natasha subjects Yelena to intense psychological manipulation and suffering in order to teach her the reality of the espionage business, and an angry but disillusioned Yelena eventually returns home and temporarily quits being a spy. Although Matt Murdock is appalled by the cruelty of Natasha's treatment of Yelena, Nick Fury describes the action as Natasha's attempt at saving Yelena's life. After bringing the Avengers and the Thunderbolts together to overcome Count Nefaria, Natasha supported Daredevil's short-lived efforts to form a new super-team to capture the Punisher, originally believed to be Nick Fury's murderer.[volume & issue needed] Despite recruitment endeavors, however, this vigilante group folded shortly after she and her teammate Dagger fought an army of renegade S.H.I.E.L.D. androids; ironically, she soon afterward worked with both Daredevil and Punisher against the European crime syndicate managed by the Brothers Grace.[volume & issue needed] Months later, her pursuit of war criminal Anatoly Krylenko led to a clash with Hawkeye, whose pessimism regarding heroic activities now rivaled her own.[volume & issue needed]
Shortly after the Scarlet Witch's insanity seemingly killed Hawkeye, and again disbanded the Avengers, Natasha, weary of espionage and adventure, travelled to Arizona but was targeted. Andrea discovers that other women had been trained in the Black Widow Program, and all are now being hunted down and killed[volume & issue needed] by the North Institute on behalf of the corporation Gynacon.[volume & issue needed] Natasha's investigations led her back to Russia, where she was appalled to learn the previously unimagined extent of her past manipulation, and she discovered the Widows were being hunted because Gynacon, having purchased Russian biotechnology from Red Room's successor agency 2R, wanted all prior users of the technology dead. Natasha finds and kills the mastermind of the Black Widow murders: Ian McMasters, Gynacon's aging CEO, who intended to use part of their genetic structure to create a new chemical weapon.[volume & issue needed] After killing McMasters, she clashed with operatives of multiple governments to help Sally Anne Carter, a girl Natasha had befriended in her investigations, whom she rescued with help from Daredevil and Yelena Belova.[volume & issue needed] She soon returned the favor for Daredevil by reluctantly working with Elektra Natchios to protect his new wife, Milla Donovan, from the FBI and others, although Yelena proved beyond help when she agreed to be transformed into the new Super-Adaptoid by A.I.M. and HYDRA.[volume & issue needed]
During the Superhero Civil War, Natasha becomes a supporter of the Superhuman Registration Act and a member of the taskforce led by Iron Man. Afterward, the registered Natasha joins the reconstituted Avengers.[volume & issue needed] S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury is presumed killed,[volume & issue needed] and deputy director Maria Hill incapacitated,[volume & issue needed] so Natasha assumes temporary command of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the highest-ranking agent present.[volume & issue needed]
Later, Tony Stark assigns Natasha to convey the late Captain America's shield to a secure location, but is intercepted by her former lover, Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, who steals the shield. Natasha and the Falcon then rescue Barnes from the Red Skull's minions, and bring him to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, where Stark convinces Bucky to become the new Captain America. Afterward, Natasha accompanies Bucky as his partner for a brief time until she is called back by S.H.I.E.L.D. She later rejoins him and Falcon for the final confrontation with the Red Skull, helping to rescue Sharon Carter. She and Bucky have restarted their relationship. She later plays an important role in the capture of Hercules. However, due to her respect of the Greek god, she let him go. Soon Natasha, along with the rest of the Avengers, gets involved in the current Skrull invasion. Afterwards, she stayed as Bucky's partner. She also assists former director Maria Hill in delivering a special form of data to Bucky.
Norman Osborn discovered Yelena Belova breaking into an abandoned S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, and offered her the position of field leader of the new Thunderbolts. On her first mission, she and Ant-Man take control of Air Force One with the Goblin, Doc Samson, and the new President aboard. It was suggested she faked her apparent death (as the Adaptoid) but it is never explained how.
A conversation with the Ghost implies that Yelena is working as a mole for someone else and that she may even be someone else disguised as Yelena. She is later seen talking privately through a comm-link to Nick Fury.
Osborn orders Yelena to lead the current Thunderbolts to kill former Thunderbolt, Songbird. Fury orders "Yelena" to rescue and retrieve Songbird, for the information she might possess about Osborn and his operations. Yelena finds Songbird, and reveals to her that she was really Natasha Romanova in disguise. She tries delivering Songbird to Fury, but the Thunderbolts have also followed them. The trio are captured as Osborn reveals he had been impersonating Fury in messages all along to set Natasha up in order to strengthen the Thunderbolts and lead him to Fury. She and Songbird are brought to be executed but manage to escape when Ant-Man, Headsmen and Paladin turn on the rest of the Thunderbolts and let them go.
At the start of the "Heroic Age," Natasha is recruited by Steve Rogers into a new black-ops wing of the Avengers, dubbed the Secret Avengers. She travels to Dubai with her new teammate, Valkyrie, where they steal a dangerous artifact which the Beast then studies, noting that it seems like a distant cousin of the Serpent Crown. In the story "Coppelia", she encounters a teenage clone of herself, code named "Tiny Dancer", whom she rescues from an arms dealer.
During the "Fear Itself" storyline, Black Widow and Peregrine are sent on a mission to free hostages being held in a Marseille cathedral by Rapido. He and a group of mercenaries are trying to exploit the panic over the events in Paris to steal France's nuclear arsenal.
Ends of the Earth
During the "Ends of the Earth" storyline, involving one of Doctor Octopus' schemes, Natasha is one of only three heroes left standing after the Sinister Six defeat the Avengers, joining Silver Sable and Spider-Man to track the Six (albeit because she was closest to Sable's cloaked ship after the Avengers were defeated rather than for her prowess). She is later contacted by the Titanium Man to warn her and her allies about Doctor Octopus' attempt to rally other villains against Spider-Man. She is knocked out along with Hawkeye by Iron Man during a battle against the Avengers when they were temporarily under Octavius' remote control.
During the incursion event between Earth-616 and Earth-1610, Natasha is involved in the final battle between the Marvel Universe's superheroes and the Ultimate Universe's Children of Tomorrow. She pilots a ship holding a handpicked few to restart humanity after the universe ends, copiloted by Jessica Drew. Her ship is shot down during the battle though, and she is killed in the ensuing explosion.
As the evacuation of Earth-616 begins in light of the fact that Earth-1610 is about to come crashing down as part of the "Last Days" storyline, Black Widow is seen standing atop a building with Captain America who gives her a list of people to save and bring aboard the lifeboat. As she tells Sam she can't save them all, Sam explains it's Natasha's job to assist in the effort to save as many people as possible before Earth as they know it is destroyed. As she leaves, her mind transitions to Cold War Russia, where a young Natasha (here called Natalia) speaks with two Russian functionaries in the infamous "Red Room". She is given her first mission: travel to Cuba and locate a family called the Comienzas, who are at risk from Raúl Castro's regime and who may have information of vital importance to Russia. She is told to rendezvous with another agent, her classmate Marina, and befriend the family under the guise of a Russian businesswoman. Natasha assures them of her competency and leaves. When one of the officers questions her youth, the other assures him, "she's a killer. She will not disappoint." Natasha meets Marina in Cuba and the two friends catch up before meeting with the Comienzas that night at a local bar. Using her talent for deception, she casually and politely convinces the husband and wife that she's seeking inside information to help her import various goods into the country. The Comienzas explain they can't reveal said information, prompting Natasha to later explain to Marina that the family might need "a little push". Not too soon she effectively began terrorizing the family into desperation. First, she plants an American flag on their doorstep to mimic someone accusing them of defecting to the United States. Later after meeting with one of the Russian officers from the Red Room to report her progress, she detonated a car bomb outside their home when the first attempt didn't make them "nearly desperate enough". Following the car bomb explosion, Natasha declares the family is indeed desperate enough to reproach for information. Before letting Natasha go, the officer announces she has one additional task before her mission is over: Marina has become too much enamored with her civilian guise, and is now a security risk. Natasha will have to eliminate her. Flipping to the present, Black Widow is saving as many people as she can, but she quickly flashback to Havana. Natasha and her then Red Room partner Marina are trying to help a family defect. Natasha's orders are simple: Kill the parents and make it public. When Natasha asks if she should kill the child too, her boss looks horrified that she would be so OK with that and tells her no. Having no problem following orders she sets up a meet and using a sniper rifle she takes out the pair without blinking. Next she shoots Marina's boyfriend then Marina herself. Next she shoots Marina's cat. Flipping back to the present, Black Widow is back saving people from the incursion as the reason that triggered Natasha's flashback is revealed ... a man she saved is holding his cat. This dark, heartless side of the Black Widow shows why she is trying so hard to do good today.
During the "Secret Empire" storyline, Black Widow appears as a member of the underground resistance at the time when most of the United States has been taken over by Hydra and Captain America who was brainwashed by Red Skull's clone using the powers of the sentient Cosmic Cube Kobik into believing that he was a Hydra sleeper agent. While Hawkeye assembles a strike force of Hercules and Quicksilver to find the Cosmic Cube fragments, Black Widow sets off to kill Rogers herself reasoning that even if Rick's theory is true, the man Rogers was would prefer to die than be used in this manner. She finds herself followed by the Champions as she establishes her version of the Red Room. While preparing to shoot Captain America with a sniper rifle, she rushes to prevent Miles Morales from killing him as predicted by Ulysses, and is struck by his shield, breaking her neck and killing her. Despite the return of the real Steve Rogers and the downfall of Hydra, Natasha's death, along with other casualties, remains.
Clone of Natasha Romanova
However, while observing a dictator who recently rose to power due to his support of Hydra, Bucky witnesses the man being assassinated in such a manner that he believes only Natasha could have pulled off the kill, and believes he sees the Black Widow depart from her chosen vantage point.
It was later discovered that Black Widow was actually cloned by the Black Widow Ops Program following her death. It's member Ursa Major bribed Epsilon Red to let him add her current memories while secretly disposing of the bad programming. The Black Widow Ops Program tasked the clone into taking out the remnants of Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D. She revealed herself to Winter Soldier and Hawkeye while also killing Orphan Maker. To keep them from interfering, the Black Widow clone locked Winter Soldier and Hawkeye in a safe room within the Red Room. The Black Widow clone rose to the ranks of the Red Room while secretly persuading the recruits to turn against their masters. When Winter Soldier and Hawkeye arrived at the Red Room, the Black Widow clone dropped her cover where she began to kill her superiors, liberate the recruits, and destroy all the clones and Epsilon Red. When the authorities arrived, Black Widow left the Red Room where she left a note for Hawkeye to stop following her and for Winter Soldier to join her in ending the Red Room.
During the "Infinity Countdown" storyline, the Black Widow clone traced a dead drop signal left by a revived Wolverine in Madripoor. She discovered that Wolverine had left the Space Infinity Gem in her care. The Black Widow clone meets up with Doctor Strange who wants to dispose of the Space Stone. Doctor Strange did not want to take it as he knows what would happen if they are in the same proximity. She is among the Infinity Gem holders who are contacted by Doctor Strange stating that they need to reform the Infinity Watch in order to safeguard the Infinity Gems from such calamities like Thanos.
Powers and abilities
The Black Widow has been enhanced by biotechnology that makes her body resistant to aging and disease and heals at an above human rate; as well as psychological conditioning that suppresses her memory of true events as opposed to implanted ones of the past without the aid of specially designed system suppressant drugs.[volume & issue needed]
The white blood cells in her body are efficient enough to fight off any microbe, foreign body and others from her body, keeping her healthy and immune to most, if not all infections, diseases and disorders.[volume & issue needed]
Her agility is greater than that of an Olympic gold medalist. She can coordinate her body with balance, flexibility, and dexterity easily.
Romanova has a gifted intellect. She displays an uncanny affinity for psychological manipulation and can mask her real emotions perfectly. Like Steve Rogers, she possesses the ability to quickly process multiple information streams (such as threat assessment) and rapidly respond to changing tactical situations.
The Black Widow is a world class athlete, gymnast, acrobat, aerialist capable of numerous complex maneuvers and feats, expert martial artist (including Jiu jitsu, Aikido, Boxing, Judo, Karate, Savate, Ninjutsu, various styles of Kung Fu and Kenpo), marksman and weapons specialist as well as having extensive espionage training. She is also an accomplished ballerina.
Romanova is an expert tactician. She is a very effective strategist, tactician, and field commander. She has led the Avengers and even S.H.I.E.L.D. on one occasion.
The Black Widow uses a variety of equipment invented by Soviet scientists and technicians, with later improvements by S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists and technicians. She usually wears distinctively shaped bracelets which fire the Widow's Bite electro-static energy blasts that can deliver charges up to 30,000 volts, as well as "Widow's Line" grappling hooks, tear gas pellets, and a new element introduced during her ongoing series during the "Kiss or Kill" arc called the "Widow's Kiss"—an aerosol instant knock-out gas she has modified. She wears a belt of metallic discs; some are disc-charges containing plastic explosives, while others have been shown to be compartments for housing other equipment. Her costume consists of synthetic stretch fabric equipped with micro-suction cups on fingers and feet, enabling her to adhere to walls and ceilings. In the 2006 "Homecoming" mini-series, she was seen using knives, unarmed combat, and various firearms, but she has since begun using her bracelets again. While in disguise as Yelena Belova, when infiltrating the then Osborn-sanctioned Thunderbolts during "Dark Reign", she used a specialized multi-lens goggle/head-carapace that demonstrated various technical abilities enhancing vision and communication.[volume & issue needed] Later, she has used a modified gun based on her Widow's Bite wrist cartridge, during her adventures alongside the new Captain America.
In other media
- Black Widow was to be paired with Daredevil in a proposed live-action 1975 series created by and starring Angie Bowie as Black Widow with Ben Carruthers as Daredevil. However, the series never got past the development stage as no studio would take on the project.
- Black Widow appeared in the Iron Man portion of The Marvel Super Heroes, voiced by Peg Dixon.
- Black Widow appears in The Super Hero Squad Show episode "Deadly is the Black Widow's Bite", voiced by Lena Headey.
- Black Widow appeared in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, voiced by Vanessa Marshall.
- Black Widow appears in Iron Man: Armored Adventures, voiced by Ashleigh Ball.
- Black Widow appears in Avengers Assemble, voiced by Laura Bailey.
- Black Widow appears in Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Maximum Overload, voiced by Laura Bailey.
- Black Widow appears in Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors, with Laura Bailey reprising the role. She appears in the episodes "Avenging Spider-Man, Part 1 and 2" and "Contest of Champions, Part 2".
- Black Widow appears in the anime series, Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers.
- Agent Carter features Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan), a 1946 precursor to Black Widow who is an operative of Leviathan.
- Black Widow appears in the television special Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Avengers Reassembled, voiced again by Laura Bailey.
- Black Widow appears in the Spider-Man episode "Spider-Island" Part 2, voiced again by Laura Bailey.
- Black Widow appears in Lego Marvel Super Heroes - Black Panther: Trouble in Wakanda, voiced again by Laura Bailey.
- In 2004, Lionsgate Entertainment announced that a Black Widow motion picture, featuring the Natasha Romanova version, was in the script stage by screenwriter-director David Hayter. Lionsgate subsequently dropped the project.
- The Ultimate version of Black Widow appears in the Ultimate Avengers animated direct-to-video movie and its sequel, Ultimate Avengers 2, voiced by Olivia d'Abo.
- Scarlett Johansson portrays Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning in 2010.
- Johansson made her debut appearance in Iron Man 2. She was cast after a scheduling conflict forced Emily Blunt to drop out of the part.
- Johansson reprised the role in The Avengers (2012), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and will do so again for Infinity War's untitled 2019 sequel.
- Feige indicated interest in doing a solo Black Widow film in September 2010 and in February 2014, development work had begun on it, with Jac Schaeffer hired in January 2018 to write the script. That July, Cate Shortland was hired to direct. Previously, director Neil Marshall had expressed interest in directing the film.
- Black Widow appears in the 2013 direct-to-video anime film Iron Man: Rise of Technovore, voiced by Clare Grant.
- Black Widow teams up with The Punisher in the anime film Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher, voiced by Jennifer Carpenter.
- Black Widow appears in the 2005 Punisher video game. She appears in one level as a non-playable character (NPC) who fights alongside the Punisher. Black Widow was voiced by Saffron Henderson.
- Black Widow appears in the video game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, voiced by Nika Futterman. She is an exclusive character in the PlayStation Portable (PSP) version, and in all other versions of the game as a non-playable character; a sub-plot in the game has various heroes investigating the possibility that she is a traitor, although Fury later confirms that she was just conducting a discreet investigation into Doctor Doom's plans. A mod available for the PC version of the game unlocks her as a playable character.
- Black Widow appears in Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, voiced by Salli Saffioti.
- Nika Futterman reprises her role in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, appearing as a boss if the player chooses to fight for the anti-Registration side.
- Black Widow appears in the Iron Man 2 video game, voiced by Catherine Campion.
- Black Widow appears as a playable character in the Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet video game, voiced by Grey DeLisle.
- Black Widow is a playable character in Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, voiced by Laura Bailey.
- Black Widow is a playable character in the Facebook game Marvel: Avengers Alliance.
- Black Widow appears as a Heroes vs Heralds card in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. If Hawkeye defeats Street Fighter's Crimson Viper, he'll say, "Black Widow you ain't."
- Black Widow is a playable character in Marvel Contest of Champions, and was granted to every player for participation in the Ultron tie-in quests.
- Black Widow appears as a playable character in the 2012 fighting game Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth.
- Black Widow is available as downloadable content for the game LittleBigPlanet as part of "Marvel Costume Kit 5".
- Black Widow is a playable character in the MMORPG Marvel Heroes, voiced by Julianne Buescher.
- Black Widow is a playable character in Lego Marvel Super Heroes voiced by Laura Bailey. She serves as one of the main story characters.
- Black Widow is a playable character in Marvel Avengers Alliance Tactics.
- Black Widow appears as a playable character in Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes and Disney Infinity 3.0, again voiced by Laura Bailey.
- Four variants of Black Widow appear in the mobile game Marvel Puzzle Quest, the most recent of which being added to the game in September 2016.
- Black Widow appears as a playable character in the mobile game Marvel: Future Fight.
- Black Widow is a playable character in Lego Marvel's Avengers, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.
- A teenage version of Black Widow appears as a playable character in Marvel Avengers Academy, voiced by Alison Brie.
- Black Widow appears as a downloadable character in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.
- Black Widow appears as a playable character in Marvel Powers United VR, again voiced by Laura Bailey.
- Black Widow appears in the Spider-Woman motion comics voiced by JoEllen Anklam. During this appearance she is masquerading as Yelena Belova.
- There are two Black Widow books in the Black Widow YA series, by Margaret Stohl.
- Black Widow appears in the prose novel adaptation of the event comic The Death of Captain America.
- Black Widow appears in the prose novel adaptation of the event comic Civil War.
- Black Widow appears in Avengers: Everybody Wants To Rule The World which is a tie-in to Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The Black Widow was ranked as the 176th greatest comic book character in Wizard magazine. IGN also ranked her as the 74th greatest comic book character stating that wherever conspiracy and treachery are afoot, you can expect the Black Widow to appear to save the day, and as #42 on their list of the "Top 50 Avengers". She was ranked 31st in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.
|#||Title||Material Collected||Publication Date||ISBN|
|Black Widow vol. 1: Homecoming||Black Widow vol. 2, #1–6||May 11, 2005||0-7851-1493-9|
|Black Widow vol. 2: The Things They Say About Her||Black Widow vol. 3, #1–6||June 7, 2006||0-7851-1768-7|
|Black Widow: The Sting of the Widow||Tales of Suspense #52, The Amazing Spider-Man #86, Amazing Adventures vol. 2 #1–8, and Daredevil #81||September 2, 2009||0-7851-3794-7|
|Black Widow: Deadly Origin||Black Widow: Deadly Origin #1–4||March 17, 2010||0-7851-4301-7|
|Black Widow: Web of Intrigue||Marvel Fanfare #10–13, Bizarre Adventures #25, and Black Widow: The Coldest War||April 7, 2010||0-7851-4474-9|
|Black Widow & The Marvel Girls||Black Widow & The Marvel Girls #1-4||April 21, 2010||978-0785146995|
|Black Widow: The Name of the Rose||Black Widow vol. 4 #1–5 and material from Enter the Heroic Age one-shot||January 5, 2011||0-7851-4354-8|
|Black Widow: Kiss or Kill||Black Widow vol. 4 #6–8 and material from Iron Man: Kiss and Kill one-shot||August 10, 2011||0-7851-4701-2|
|Hawkeye & Mockingbird / Black Widow: Widowmaker||Solo Avengers #16–18, Widowmaker #1–4||April 20, 2011||0-7851-5205-9|
|Black Widow: The Itsy-Bitsy Spider||Black Widow vol. 1, #1–3; Black Widow vol. 2, #1–3||November 16, 2011||0-7851-5827-8|
|Marvel's the Avengers: Black Widow Strikes||Marvel's the Avengers: Black Widow Strikes #1-3||September 19, 2012||978-0785165682|
|Captain America and Black Widow||Captain America and Black Widow 636-640||February 26, 2013||978-0785165286|
|1||The Finely Woven Thread||Black Widow Vol. 5 #1-6, All-New Marvel Now! Point One||July 29, 2014||978-0785188193|
|2||The Tightly Tangled Web||Black Widow Vol. 5 #7-12, The Punisher (2014) #9||February 3, 2015||978-0785188209|
|3||Last Days||Black Widow Vol. 5 #13-20||October 13, 2015||0785192530|
|1||SHIELD's Most Wanted||Black Widow Vol. 6 #1-6||136||November 8, 2016||978-0785199755|
|2||No More Secrets||Black Widow Vol. 6 #7-12||May 9, 2017||978-0785199762|
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