Marvel Comics fans have waited a long time for the long-anticipated Black Widow solo film. Scarlett Johansson won the role of Natalia Alianova “Natasha” Romanova, Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, David Harbour as Red Guardian, and Rachel Weisz as Melina. Additionally, the villain in Black Widow will be the formidable Taskmaster (Tony Masters). The Black Widow press release didn’t mention who would take on the Taskmaster role, so I guess it will be a surprise for us all.
Why a Black Widow Solo Film?
As most Marvel film fans remember, Romanova martyrs herself in Avengers: Endgame (2019) so that the Avengers may obtain the Soul Stone. And if that wasn’t sad enough, Iron Man (Tony Stark) sacrificed his life also to “snap” Thanos and his army with his Infinity Stone-powered suit.
It’s assumed that Black Widow—a flashback film taking place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) timeline between Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018)—intends to set the stage where Romanova passes the torch off to Belova. In addition to keeping some semblance of Black Widow alive in upcoming MCU films, fans hope to learn more about Romanova’s shadowy origins.
A Short History Lesson About Black Widow (Romanova)
Romanova is but one out of a group of assassins from Russia falling under the moniker “Black Widow.” She was incorporated introduced in 1964 to Marvel’s comic book anthology series entitled Tales of Suspense. Natalia Romanova’s last comic book appearance occurred in the September 2017 issue of Secret Empire #17.
According to what little history we know of Russia’s most formidable female assassin, Romanova was born sometime in the 1920s. Supposedly, she was rescued by a Soviet soldier named Ivan Petrovitch after the apartment she lived in with her mother caught fire. We can only assume that her mother perished in the blaze since Petrovitch essentially became her foster parent.
When Romanova became a teenager, her foster father volunteered her services to Department X, which ultimately led her to the Red Room Academy and the Black Widow program. It is here where she acquired skills as an assassin and a spy—and where she earned a reputation for being one of the Red Room Academy’s most prolific Black Widows.
Who Is Natasha Romanoff?
In 2010, the MCU introduced Natasha “Nat” Romanoff in Iron Man 2 as Black Widow. In the film, Nick Fury employed Nat as an operative of S.H.I.E.L.D., tasked with the duty of conducting surveillance on Tony Stark to see if Iron Man would make a good member of the Avengers. Nat put her hand-to-hand combat skills on full display throughout Iron Man 2, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that even without superpowers, she was an impressive MCU character.
Nat continued to bolster her prominence in the MCU when she appeared in The Avengers (2012). In the film, a particular scene eluded to Nat’s past S.H.I.E.L.D. employment in a dialogue between her and Loki. Another interesting thing to note is she seemed to imply being involved in actions under Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. that she regretted.
Of course, the film never clarified exactly what Nat did for Nick Fury that ladened her soul with so much guilt. This is only one of many mysteries fans hope the film Black Widow solves.
Now, Who Is Yelena Belova?
Yelena Belova trained in the Red Room Academy as well, claiming she was the highest scoring student in the Black Widow Ops Program. The extraordinary thing about Belova is that she only underwent physical training, unlike Natalia Alianova “Natasha” Romanova, who was psycho-technologically and bio-technologically enhanced.
One of Belova’s first missions involved monitoring Romanova for Yuri Stalyenko. Romanova tricked Belova into believing that she had been killed, so Belova switch missions and headed towards Rhapastan with to thwart General Khan. However, she failed her mission and wound up captured. After Natasha Romanova foiled Khan’s plans, she kidnapped Belova with the assistance of Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.
Romanova surgically swapped her face with Belova’s to teach her that working as a spy isn’t a noble trade—rather, it made her nothing but a tool to be used. Nonetheless, Romanova’s plan backfired, and Belova suffered tremendous psychological trauma, accusing Romanova of violating her being and raping her identity. It was primarily this event that placed enmity between both Black Widows.
Other Black Widows Are out There
Using the term “Black Widow” for Natasha Romanova and Yelena Belova is similar to referring to soldiers as Navy Seals; it’s more of a title rather than a name. With that said, it should be known that there are 28 or more other Black Widow operatives out there. Most of them took up roles as sleepers or deep cover agents, which means we may never know their identities the same as we do with Romanova and Belova (and we still know very little about who they are as well).