One of the most anticipated films of 2012, The Avengers brings together a gaggle of super-heroes introduced (or re-introduced in some cases) to audiences over the last three years in their own movies. There is a lot to keep track of, so we are continuing our “boot camp” with The Black Widow.
The Black Widow. This is one Marvel character that may be almost as hard to wrap your head around as the Hulk. I had little knowledge of her prior to her appearance in Iron Man 2. She’s a KGB spy, she’s brainwashed, she has fake memories; the woman is probably in some form of psychological shambles. She has definitely had issues with her origins and identity. She is referred to as a “global master assassin” by Iron Man in The Avengers trailer.
Created by Stan Lee, Don Rico and artist Don Heck, Black Widow made her first appearance in 1964. The US was in the middle of the Cold War in 1964 and Black Widow was initially a soviet spy foil to Iron Man and had Hawkeye wrapped up in her plan for a while. In 1966, we discovered Black Widow was brainwashed against America and she eventually defected to the US and began regularly working with the Avengers. She has been both an Avenger, freelance agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., vigilante crime fighter, and member of numerous Marvel super-hero groups over the years. She also took time off to attempt (and fail) at being a fashion designer.
Black Widow was born Natalia Alianovna Romanova, later going simply by Natasha Romanoff. Her origins story has been tweaked over the decades like most superheroes, but basically she was orphaned at a young age, trained with other parentless females by the KGB in espionage, various martial arts, and marksmanship at a place called the “Red Room.” Natasha was also genetically and technologically enhanced, resulting in an unusually long lifespan and youthfulness. She has also been implanted with false memories and, depending on the origin story, she may or may not really have been a ballerina
Along the way, Black Widow has become fluent in many languages as well as an expert computer hacker. She is Batman like with an array of high tech gadgets, which she carries on her person (electro shock devices, explosives, grappling hooks, etc). She has various nanobites implanted in her body that affect her memories and also help her in battle. Her suit is resistant to high temperatures and small-arms fire and is enhanced with tiny suction cups allowing her to cling to walls and ceilings. The Black Widow’s primary weapon is a bracelet type thing she wears that emits “the widow’s bite” – an electrical blast up to 30,000 volts. Originally she was not accepted as a full time Avengers member because of their oath of “non-killing.”
She has engaged in romantic relationships with Daredevil, Hercules, had an engagement to Iron Man (even receiving an Iron Woman suit as a gift), was attracted to Captain America and in the animated Avengers they had a relationship, she publicly outed Bruce Banner as The Hulk when she was not on the good side, and in one storyline, she was revealed to be behind the death of Hawkeye’s wife and children and was killed by him in return. The lady gets around.
Scarlett Johansson portrayed the Black Widow in Iron Man 2 and is reprising her role for The Avengers. In September 2010 at a press conference for the Iron Man 2 Blu-ray and DVD release, Kevin Feige confirmed a Black Widow movie would be in the works and discussions were started with Johansson but “The Avengers comes first.”
Black Widow was not prominently featured in Iron Man 2 enough to get any back story on her, but we know she has some fierce battle skills, is graceful and very tactical, and is working with Nick Fury already. Johansson was a thrill to watch somersault, twist and turn while taking out the bad guys. She also apparently racked up a number of injuries doing her own stunts. She also has tremendous acting chops and is way more than just an unforgettably beautiful face and sultry voice. I think I have just officially added her to position #2 on my girl crush list (Milla J sits undefeated and unchallenged at #1).
What to expect? She is such a sultry character and with an operative name like Black Widow, they have to throw in some romance. A friend and reader argues it will be Iron Man, and they definitely have a comic book past, but so do she and Hawkeye. I am still voting for some subtle Hawkeye/Scarlett flirtation because all the screen grabs of Hawkeye and Black Widow together just look so intense. I also see more chemistry between Renner and Johansson than Downey Jr.and Johansson (also, Renner is also closer to her age but not that Hollywood takes that into consideration). It also seemed at the end of Iron Man 2, Tony Stark was finally realizing Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) might be woman for him. I am hoping the screenwriters took into consideration the scope of the film and did not throw in a love triangle of any sort; I am hoping for no Pepper/Tony/Natasha sideline drama or subtext.
In a nutshell, I am pretty sure we’ll see a lot more of Natasha in The Avengers and her slick and feminine methods of attack and dispatching of the enemy. I think in spite of all the hotty mchotterson testosterone, I am most excited to see Black Widow on the big screen. We a female super-hero to redeem us after the almost was Wonder Woman, the joke of Cat Woman, and more. I think Black Widow/Scar-Jo can do that with Whedon and crew’s help.