Black Widow will soon return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, bringing several new heroes aiming to enrich Marvel Studios’ stories.
Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow, may have met her end in Avengers: Endgame, but Marvel Studios promises to expand this well-known and popular character a bit more with her own solo prequel set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.
Here you’ll be able to learn a little more about the new MCU characters, as well as deepen your knowledge of Nat and her comics origins a little bit more.
Black Widow is directed by Cate Shortland and produced by Kevin Feige, and the cast includes Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, Ray Winstone, William Hurt, and O-T Fagbenle. The premiere date is June 8 in theaters and June 9 on Disney Plus – through Premium Access.
Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)
In the comics, Natasha Romanoff was raised by a foster family, and her exact ancestry is unknown.
However, the story begins in a burning Russian orphanage, when her mother – to save her – throws her out of a window into the hands of Ivan Petrovitch. She was later kidnapped and trained by The Hand organization, eventually returning to the Soviet Union as a dancer.
Natasha was trained at an early age by the Red Room, the KGB institution designed to create spies. During her time in the KGB, Natasha ends up training under Winter Soldier guidance. During her time in the West, where she was sent to carry out some missions, Romanova ultimately opts for a solo career and leaves the KGB.
First appearing on the big screen in 2010’s Iron Man in the guise of Natalie Rushman, Pepper Potts’ assistant at Stark Industries, Natasha Romanoff quickly reveals her identity as an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. She puts the egocentric Tony Stark on the line and helps defeat Ivan Vanko.
Years later, Black Widow join Captain America, Hawkeye, Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man to form the iconic team known as the Avengers to defeat the God of Mischief, Loki, and Ultron‘s artificial intelligence.
During this period, Romanoff even ends up allying with Captain America and Falcon to defeat HYDRA and dismantle S.H.I.E.L.D. But, unfortunately, this alliance ends with the Sokovia Accords that eliminated the Avengers’ autonomy as a private organization and placed them under UN jurisdiction.
She needs no introduction. Scarlett Johansson returns to play Natasha Romanoff in the Black Widow movie – perhaps for the last time. After the squabbles caused by the Sokovia Accords, the Avengers split up, and Black Widow is now on her own. On her personal journey, she undergoes a reckoning with her past, revealing not only the dark origin of the heroine’s mantle but also bringing back people who changed her trajectory – for both good and bad.
Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh)
If you thought there was only one Black Widow, you were quite mistaken. The program that trained Natasha also created a whole group of other female spies, and among them is Yelena Belova.
In the comics, the character is a Black Widow agent who appeared in the Red Room at the same time as Natasha. But unlike the protagonist, who left the post and became a member of S.H.I.E.L.D., Yelena spent many years in the field working for Russia.
On one of her missions, she is sent to follow Natasha to make sure she fulfilled the assignment, but Romanoff fakes her own death. Eventually, Natasha manages to make Yelena realize the real intentions of her superiors, who consider her just another disposable piece in their army. The two Black Widows bond temporarily, but in subsequent stories, they reappear as rivals.
In the film, Natasha’s “younger sister” is the one who makes the protagonist return to her origins for the new mission. Yelena does everything to ensure her future in a new batch of Marvel heroes, and the relationship between the two is explosive, to say the least.
Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz)
The comics made Melina Vostokoff known as Iron Maiden, a dangerous villain and former Soviet Union government agent. She lives full of spite for finding herself in the constant shadow of the legendary Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff.
Her deep hatred for the spy leads her rejected her role as a spy for Russia, becoming an assassin and mercenary who served anyone who paid. She is part of a group of assassins and wears a metal suit, which protects her during fights and grants her superhuman strength. Vostokoff has no superpowers but is skilled in hand-to-hand combat, espionage, and weapons.
Melina Vostokoff is the mother figure to Natasha Romanoff, and Yelena Belova in the Marvel Studios feature film. Being a Black Widow herself, Melina has been through the rigorous and dangerous training of the Red Room several times.
Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian (David Harbour)
In the comics, Alexei Alanovich Shostakov was born in Moscow and was the husband of Natasha Romanoff. They both became agents of the Soviet Union. Natasha as the Black Widow, while he became a test pilot and KGB agent. Later, Shostakov trained to become the Soviet equivalent of Captain America as Red Guardian.
In the film, Alexei Shostakov is the father figure to Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova, training in the Red Room to become the Red Guardian.
Antonia Dreykov/Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko)
The comics introduce Taskmaster as a mysterious character, revealed to be an individual who possesses the ability to copy anyone’s fighting moves and techniques. Taskmaster begins his career as an instructor, spending his day-to-day life training goons for super-villains, eventually evolving into a mercenary and going up against some of the Marvel Universe’s most important heroes.
On the big screen, Taskmaster is a mysterious figure who has taken control of the Red Room after Alexei Shostakov and Melina Vostokoff’s departure and who uses it to brainwash a new series of female assassins. Unfortunately, the actor who will bring Taskmaster to life has not been confirmed and has been noticeably absent from the entire marketing campaign.
Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt)
In the comics, Thaddeus E. Ross, known as Thunderbolt Ross, followed the footsteps of his father and paternal grandfather by embarking on a military career. He became a General in the U.S. Air Force and leader of the project developed by Bruce Banner to create a gamma bomb.
However, the affinity created between his daughter Betty and Banner leads to a rivalry between the two men, a conflict that implodes when an accident turns Bruce into the Hulk. To defeat Hulk, whom Ross believes to be a danger to humanity, Thaddeus is injected with Super-Soldier serum, giving rise to Red Hulk, who becomes an expressive and tactically intelligent adversary.
In the movies, Thaddeus Ross first appeared in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. In this film, Ross pursues Bruce Banner around the world and recruits mercenary Emil Blonsky to help him. However, after a failed capture mission, Blonsky is injected with Super Soldier’s serum, creating Abomination.
Although his obsession with defeating Hulk is more harmful than good, Ross eventually allies with Banner to stop Blonsky.
Years later, Ross has a heart attack and chooses to switch careers, abandoning active combat in favor of politics, becoming a Senator, and supporting the Sokovia Accords that ultimately separate the Avengers.
Dreykov (Ray Winstone)
Dreykov is a high-ranking member of the Russian secret forces, serving as the leader of the Red Room. As noted in the events of The Avengers, the death of Dreykov’s daughter, accidentally caused by Natasha, was the catalyst that led the spy to defect from the Black Widows program.
Rick Mason (O-T Fagbenle)
Mason is a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who collaborated with Natasha on past missions. The relationship of the two goes a little beyond the professional.
In the comics, Mason is known as The Agent, a mercenary specializing in capturing individuals with superpowers.
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)
After her debut in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Valentina returns with a cameo in Black Widow.
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is a spy known in the comics as Madame Hydra. Initially recruited to join S.H.I.E.L.D, where she quickly became a major figure, Valentina impressed Nick Fury so much that the two eventually embarked on a romantic relationship. However, the relationship between the two spies ended when Fontaine was exposed as a spy for the Soviet Union.
In the series, Fontaine is seen taking on a role similar to Nick Fury in Iron Man, recruiting individuals for her own team of evildoers.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is known for giving life to Selina Meyer, the powerful Vice President in the HBO series Veep, a project for which she won 6 Emmys for Best Actress.
The Black Widow Movie
It’s not just because of Pandemic that we’ve been waiting a long time for Natasha Romanoff‘s solo film. Left on the sidelines in several MCU films, Scarlett Johansson‘s Marvel character has been gaining more and more prominence until she made her best appearance in Avengers: Endgame, when – despite its questionable ending – she finally presented a charismatic personality. Finally, years later, Black Widow arrives in theaters (and on Disney+).
The proposal to return to Natasha’s past is more than valid – we’re looking for the roots of a role that is by definition mysterious – and having the character go after the liberation of other women who have gone through her experience is even better. As her last on-screen mission, the idea is that Johansson can leave the scene with a sense of mission accomplished.