Black Widow Recap: The Spy’s Journey in the MCU

Before you watch Black Widow's 2021 solo movie, refresh your memory on Natasha Romanoff's journey and where her new adventure fits into the MCU timeline.
Black Widow Recap The Spy's Journey in the MCU
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Later this week, the world will finally get a chance to see Black Widow‘s first solo adventure, which will be released in theaters and on Disney+ simultaneously (via the Premier Access service, for an additional cost). Over the years, Natasha Romanoff has been one of the most valued members of the Avengers, fighting for justice even without having explosive superpowers like the rest of her teammates.

The spy’s solo film promises to show a bit of Natasha’s personal history in a spy and action epic. However, while the film isn’t here yet, perhaps we should take a look back at Black Widow’s appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline!

Iron Man 2

Black Widow Recap The Spy's Journey in the MCU - Iron Man 2

In Iron Man 2, we see Tony Stark indulging himself in his own ego after becoming a great global hero. He ends up hiring a personal assistant named Natalie Rushman, who by the end of the film, we ultimately realize is Natasha Romanoff, a special agent at the service of S.H.I.E.L.D. to monitor the playboy genius’ every move.

The first impression was powerful. Inside a boxing ring, Rushman impressed Tony Stark and poor Happy Hogan, who was dragged to the carpet in mere seconds.

She ends up being very useful in the final battle against Whiplash, as she uses her hacker skills to disable some drones created by the villain. In addition, she’s vital in enabling the police to arrest Justin Hammer, Tony Stark’s rival businessman who helped finance all these crimes to gain more space in the technology market.

In her first film, Natasha is very true to the Marvel comics in terms of her personality. She is more than capable of deceiving Tony Stark, as well as having a breathtaking action sequence. As a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, she has s very close relationship with Nick Fury, something that was better explored later.

The Avengers

Black Widow Recap The Spy's Journey in the MCU - The Avengers

In The Avengers, the alien god Loki invades Earth searching for the Tesseract, promising to create a tremendous and deadly spectacle, which leads him to kidnap Hawkeye. Black Widow decides to help the group. In her first mission, she is sent to rescue Bruce Banner, the scientist capable of transforming into the Hulk.

Aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. Aircraftcraft, Natasha reveals that she has debts to pay to Hawkeye the Archer. At one point, she confronts Clint and succeeds in freeing him from the villain’s mind control. In the end, she reunites with the other heroes to fight and save Earth from the Chitauri invasion.

In this film, Black Widow proves to be a crucial piece in the Avengers, especially in the scene where she extracts information from Loki. This same scene brings some important details about the spy’s past that should be very useful in her solo film since they talk about how she was a Russian agent and how this affected her own origin.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Black Widow Recap The Spy's Journey in the MCU - Captain America: The Winter Soldier

In 2014, Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released, the film with Marvel’s most political approach to date. Here, we follow the Sentinel of Liberty taking on the entire S.H.I.E.L.D. and the American government to prevent a dangerous weapons system from being launched that can directly monitor and control the lives of everyone on the planet.

In the film, Natasha Romanoff plays a significant role – first in the service of Nick Fury and then as Steve Rogers‘s ally. Together with the Captain, she discovers the existence of a HYDRA cell growing at S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s also revealed some information about an encounter with the Winter Soldier in the past.

Here, we get to see Natasha in her natural environment, practicing her espionage tactics while trying to help Steve Rogers in his mission. At the end of the film, she helps expose the entire existence of HYDRA – even though she knows that this would cause her own secrets to be revealed together. And that makes us see her as a great heroine.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Black Widow Recap The Spy's Journey in the MCU - Avengers: Age of Ultron

However, this development was thrown in the trash when Avengers: Age of Ultron hit theaters. The film was released in 2021 and shows the team fighting a murderous artificial intelligence, except that Black Widow has a very controversial role: she is Bruce Banner‘s girlfriend and the only one capable of softening and calming the Hulk.

Throughout the film, the character doesn’t get much development. We even see some flashbacks showing more of Black Widows’s past, especially her training in the Red Room, but this is all too fast, and there is no room for the character to evolve and grow. In the end, Bruce abandons her and leaves, and Natasha helps train the New Avengers.

The film is considered by many fans of the heroine to be the lowest point of Black Widow’s career in theaters. This is because the script places her as an unimportant figure. At the same time, several difficult dialogues arise regarding the character – such as her considering herself a monster equal to the Hulk because she is sterile.

Captain America: Civil War

Black Widow Recap The Spy's Journey in the MCU - Captain America: Civil War

On the other hand, Captain America: Civil War came to bring back the Black Widow we know and love – and this time, she ends up going through a significant moral dilemma. At the beginning of the film, she is an ally of Steve Rogers and an active member of the Avengers. However, when the Sokovia Accords are proposed, she takes Iron Man‘s side.

Much of this is due to her own ideological alignment that heroes should not have complete freedom to act without the jurisdiction and permission of governments, especially after so many tragedies indirectly caused by the Avengers. Still, she ends up changing her mind at the end of the film and helps Captain America escape with his allies.

Although the film has many characters, everyone has their big standout moment, and with Natasha Romanoff, it is no different. Here, we see all of the character’s moral struggle with her own principles and ideas, but in the end, we see her do what she believes is right to save the Avengers and an innocent man – the Winter Soldier.

Avengers: Infinity War

Black Widow Recap The Spy's Journey in the MCU - Avengers: Infinity War

In Avengers: Infinity War, many of the heroes disregard the Sokovia Accords and live underground, doing missions around the world while avoiding Tony Stark. However, they are all forced to unite once Thanos and the Black Order attack Earth, searching for the Infinity Stones.

Black Widow is one of the heroines who stands by Steve Rogers and does everything she can to defend the planet from this invasion. In the climax, she travels to Wakanda, the African country under siege by the armies of the Mad Titan. She assists the Scarlet Witch, Okoye, and other heroes in pushing back the invasion but loses the war when Thanos takes the last Infinity Stone and completes his plan.

In this film, we see Black Widow looking radically different from what we are used to. She has blonde hair and a green outfit (which should play a vital role in the heroine’s solo film). However, here we see a real Avenger trying her best to stop a villain from carrying out a complete catastrophe. She has some great moments in the movie.

Avengers: Endgame

Black Widow Recap The Spy's Journey in the MCU - Avengers: Endgame

And that brings us directly to Avengers: Endgame. 5 years have passed since Thanos wiped out half the lives of the entire universe. Now, few heroes are still trying to reverse the situation, and Black Widow is one of them. But, assuming the Avenger‘s leadership, she does not give up her mission and helps the heroes reunite.

However, fate turns out to be very tragic for Natasha. When she goes back in time to retrieve the Soul Stone on Vormir alongside Clint Barton, she sacrifices herself to achieve victory – and she does so without a second thought, throwing herself off a cliff and giving her own life so that the heroes have a chance to turn the tables.

It is a little sad to think that this was the end of the character – considering that up until the middle of the film, Natasha had shown herself to be an inspiring and very dedicated leader. We can clearly see how she has evolved from a spy to a complete heroine, which is why her sacrifice is so heartbreaking (not least because with Clint there, she really didn’t have to die).

Black Widow Solo Movie

Black Widow Recap The Spy's Journey in the MCU - Black Widow Solo Movie

Good news for fans of superhero movies! Black Widow‘s film, scheduled for release on the 8th, already appears with 82% approval from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. This time, placing Marvel’s heroine in a solo adventure, the movie promises to answer some questions still burning in the fans’ imagination.

Will Black Widow have a sequel? What lies behind the character’s sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame? What happened to Natasha and Hawkeye in Budapest? If everything happens as I hope, Scarlett Johansson’s new film will finally explore all these and other relevant questions.

Black Widow is a prequel film and takes place before some of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe films.  It’s set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, addressing circumstances that occurred before the character’s death.

After helping Captain America escape in Civil War, Natasha Romanoff leaves into a kind of exile, resulting in the events of her solo film. But, unfortunately, there won’t be the famous Red Room training or the ballet scenes and shooting lessons we saw in the heroine’s flashbacks in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Instead, the details of Natasha’s life as a spy before S.H.I.E.L.D remain a mystery.

In the first film of the MCU’s phase four, Natasha must confront parts of her history when a dangerous conspiracy linked to her past emerges. Pursued by a force that will not stop until it defeats her, the Avenger will have to deal with her old life as a spy, reuniting with old family members she left behind before becoming part of the Avengers.

Black Widow is directed by Cate Shortland and produced by Kevin Feige. Completing the cast are Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, and Ray Winstone.

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PopCorn Princess

PopCorn Princess

Hey there, I'm Princess. I’m an annual comic con attendee, Star Wars-loving, and collector freak. My mission is simple: To bring cool geeky news and content and share my passion with the rest of the world. (... I secretly wish to save the world as a superheroine...)