Another Black Widow MCU movie lands July 2021, so now is the time to refresh your memory with all things Natasha Romanoff.
Scarlett Johansson was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2010 with Iron Man 2, and it’s taken her 11 years to get her own solo film. I refuse to say better late than never, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was excited for this one.
Despite the events of Avengers: Endgame, we will be seeing Natasha Romanoff grace our screens once again as Black Widow. We know the Black Widow movie (July 9) will take place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War when Natasha was on the run with Steve, Sam, and the others.
Related: Super Soldiers explained: The past, present, and future of the MCU
If you’re having trouble remembering everything Natasha has gone through to get to this point, then you’re in luck! You can either check out the list below to know which movies you need to re-watch for her arc, or you can read the blurbs for a refresher on where she’s been so far.
‘Black Widow’ in the MCU
‘Iron Man 2’ (2010)
We’re first introduced to Black Widow way back in 2010 with the advent of Iron Man 2. Here, she appears as Natalie Rushman, who works in Stark Industries’ legal department. After Pepper takes over the company, Natalie becomes Tony’s new assistant.
She’s a fantastic assistant, of course, but she’s also a S.H.I.E.L.D. spy for Nick Fury, assigned to keep an eye on Tony. After she reveals her true identity (Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow) and provides Tony with a temporary cure for his arc reactor’s radiation poisoning, she continues to work at the company.
We see Black Widow in action for the first time as she attempts to track down Anton Vanko with Happy Hogan. Upon realizing Vanko slipped through her fingers, she hacks into a computer and frees James Rhodes’ suit from Vanko’s control, retrieving Hammer Industries data in the process.
If your time is limited, I’d definitely recommend rewatching Avengers, as its one of the best depictions of Black Widow in the MCU. It starts with Agent Coulson pulling her from a mission in Russia to send her to Kolkata to bring in Bruce Banner because they need his help tracking down the Tesseract.
Related: A complete Tesseract timeline in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
After capturing Loki, Natasha approaches him in his cell and asks what he did to Clint Barton and Erik Selvig, both of whom had been turned thanks to Loki’s scepter. Natasha feigns breaking down in order to get Loki to reveal his hand, which is to turn Bruce Banner (aka the Hulk) on everyone in the Quinjet. Clint attacks the ship, causing Bruce to Hulk out. Natasha and Clint then fight hand-to-hand before she knocks him out, undoing whatever hold Loki and his scepter had on him.
Black Widow then joins the other Avengers in New York City to defeat the Chitauri army, eventually making her way up to Stark Tower in order to close the portal using the scepter. She and the others capture Loki and escort him and Thor to Central Park, where the two Asgardians return home with the Tesseract.
‘Captain America: Winter Soldier’ (2014)
Captain America and Black Widow join forces to retake the Lemurian Star after it was hijacked by pirates (led by Georges Batroc, whom we see again in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier). Fury gave Natasha a secret mission to steal some data about Project Insight from the ship, which puts the two of them in a sticky situation and allows Batroc to escape.
After Nick Fury’s “death,” Natasha confirms that the person who shot him was likely the Winter Soldier and shares a story about her experience barely escaping him five years prior. Now on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D., she and Steve decide to dig deeper into Project Insight to uncover the conspiracy Fury attempted to bring to light. At Camp Lehigh, the two discover an A.I. version of Arnim Zola, who informs them Hydra has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D.
After recruiting Sam Wilson to help them as Falcon, they discover Project Insight would be used to target any potential threats, including Bruce Banner, Stephen Strange, and more. Following the fight against the Winter Soldier, where he’s revealed to be none other than Bucky Barnes, Maria Hill helps them escape custody and brings them before Nick Fury, who is very much alive. Natasha disguises herself as World Security Councilwoman Hawley to help Fury stop Alexander Pierce from using Project Insight against the global population. She then dumps all of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s (and therefore Hydra’s) secrets onto the internet, knowing this means she’ll need a new secret identity.
‘Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Natasha and the other Avengers attack the Hydra research base, meeting Pietro and Wanda Maximoff for the first time. They take Loki’s scepter from Hydra, which Tony and Bruce use to create Ultron. Ultimately, Ultron decides the best way to protect humanity is to eliminate it, and the Avengers are forced to track down Ulysses Klaue in an attempt to stop Ultron from getting a large supply of vibranium.
Here, Scarlet Witch forces a vision upon Black Widow where she relives moments from her past. We see Natasha at the Red Room Academy, where she was trained to be an assassin. The graduation ceremony included a sterilization procedure, and though Natasha initially held herself back in an attempt to forego the process, she eventually relented.
Despite considering what life would be like on the run with Bruce, Natasha suits up to steal the Regeneration Cradle from Ultron. Though the mission is a success and the Avengers bring Vision to life, Natasha is captured. Bruce eventually frees her, and together with the Avengers, she fights to save the citizens of Sokovia. They save who they can, but there are still numerous casualties. After she is unable to convince Hulk to return home and transform back into Bruce Banner, Natasha teams up with Captain America to train the new Avengers recruits.
‘Captain America: Civil War’ (2016)
When it comes to Black Widow in the MCU, Civil War depicts her as a complex and nuanced character. After a successful but disastrous mission in Lagos in which Scarlet Witch is responsible for accidentally killing dozens of people, Natasha agrees to sign the Sokovia Accords along with Tony, Rhodey, and Vision.
When a bomb kills King T’Chaka of Wakanda, the half of the Avengers who signed the Accords go after the main suspect—Bucky Barnes aka the Winter Soldier, which puts them in direct opposition to Captain America and Falcon (as well as Black Panther, a third party to the situation). Natasha fights the Winter Soldier after he escapes the facility but she and the others are unable to defeat him.
Team Iron Man and Team Captain America face off at a German airport, which means Natasha is forced to fight several of her friends, including Hawkeye. In the end, she holds Black Panther back long enough to let Steve and Bucky escape, and then agrees to help T’Challa find—but not capture—them. As a result, Natasha is forced to go on the run with the others who defied the Sokovia Accords.
‘Black Widow’ (2021)
While Natasha is on the run, her sister Yelena (portrayed by Florence Pugh) sends her vials of a mysterious chemical compound. Searching for answers, Natasha returns to Budapest, where the two form a tenuous alliance. Yelena tells Natasha that she failed her mission years ago—General Dreykov is still alive.
As they escape the Widows, Natasha learns that Dreykov has a means to control his warriors’ every move, including whether they live or die. The chemical Nat received was a means to break that control. Since the Avengers are on a little break at the moment, Natasha decides they need to talk to their “parents”—Alexei (David Harbour) and Melina (Rachel Weisz).
The family reunion doesn’t exactly go according to plan, but by the end of the movie, we see Natasha suited up for what will soon be the beginning of the end. As she leaves one family behind, she chases after another, hoping it’s not too late to for the Avengers to patch things up.
‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (2018)
Two years after the events of Civil War, Bruce Banner calls Natasha and the others to tell them about Thanos’ imminent arrival. She, Cap, and Falcon save Wanda and Vision before returning to the New Avengers Facility, where Rhodey disobeys a direct order to arrest them.
In an attempt to save Vision’s life, the Avengers take him to Wakanda, where Shuri begins the process of removing the Mind Stone from his forehead. Thanos’ army attacks, and Natasha and the others fight them off in order to protect Vision. Here, she helps defeat Proxima Midnight alongside Scarlet Witch and Okoye.
However, it is all for naught. In the end, Thanos retrieves the Mind Stone and snaps his fingers, wiping away half of the universe’s population. Natasha is one of the people left behind, forced to face her defeat and navigate a world thrown into chaos.
‘Avengers: Endgame (2019)
A little over three weeks after the Snap, the remaining Avengers attack Thanos in an attempt to reverse what he’d done. Once they realize the Infinity Stones had been destroyed, Thor kills the Mad Titan and the group spends the next five years figuring out how to move on from what happened. For her part, Natasha leads a new Avengers team, attempting to reform the world in the process.
After Scott Lang’s return from the Quantum Realm, Natasha and the others come up with the idea for the Time Heist, in which they plan to pluck the Infinity Stones from the past in order to use them in the present. If they can reverse the Snap, they can bring everyone back before defeating Thanos once and for all.
Clint and Natasha travel to Vormir to retrieve the Soul Stone. After climbing the mountain, Red Skull greets them, as he is now the Stone’s guardian. He shows them to a cliff’s edge and explains the only way to get the Soul Stone is to sacrifice something you love. After a back and forth battle between the two, Natasha wins out and sacrifices herself, allowing Clint to retrieve the Stone. In the end, she played a vital role in defeating Thanos.
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