From being the beautiful and mysterious assistant to Tony Stark to becoming an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the kickass Avenger, Black Widow aka Natasha Romanoff’s journey is nothing short of inspirational. She was first introduced as an antagonist – a Russian spy within the Stark Industries under the alias Natalie Rushman, a recurring character in the Tales of Suspense series in April 1964. While her earliest appearances have often been touted as insignificant and even sexist at times, over the years, she went through some significant changes, much like her fellow avengers. Initially, she didn’t have a costume of her own, and was portrayed as a damsel, aimed at seducing American men, against whom she was positioned.
Black Widow was created by Stan Lee, scripted by Don Rico, and designed by artist Don Heck. The assassin codename was based on her small size and deadly skills, much like black widow spiders. She received her name while being a young trainee in the Red Room, former Soviet Union’s top secret school for training young female spies, created by Stalin himself. Not long after her debut, Black Widow received high-tech weaponry from the government, along with her first costume, a blue and black skin tight jumpsuit with a short cape.
However, later she joined the secret agency SHIELD, after she was brainwashed against the US. She was also the one to recruit archer and superhero Hawkeye into the team. Black Widow, as we know her today, was introduced much later, around the 1970s. In The Amazing Spider Man #86, she appeared with shoulder-length red hair and a tight black jumpsuit, the look that didn’t change much after that. In the following decades (1980s and 90s), her storyline remained stagnant, appearing either as a member of Avengers or an agent of SHIELD.
As for her powers, her body and skills have been scientifically enhanced through biotechnology, making her resistant to aging and diseases, and a capability to heal faster than normal humans. She is immune to nearly all disorders and infections. Her intellect and emotional capability is unmatched, and her training rendered her to be unbeatable in combat and weapons’ usage.
For a major part of her history, Black Widow appeared more in other series or comic book character stories and less as a standalone or lead. This, despite being one of the only two female Avengers, alongside Wasp. Although she does have four miniseries and four graphic novels to her credit. She debuted in the MCU in 2010, with the Iron Man 2 film, following a similar storyline as that of the comics. But it was only after appearing in eight MCU films that she received her standalone film in 2021 after she died saving the world in the final installment of phase three, Avengers:Endgame.
Her standalone movie followed events after the Avengers: Civil War and explored her origins and family struggles. Hardcore fans consider her background, her training days and her role in the Avengers as one of the most complex and intricate story lines, especially since she doesn’t possess any supernatural powers, and has been built into an Avenger over time.