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Quote1 [I dreamed] that I was an Avenger. That I was any more than the assassin they made me. Quote2
-- Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff) src
 

Red Ledger

Natalia Romanoff was born in 1984,[1] in Stalingrad, Russian SFSR, USSR and went on to become a world-class spy.

She began training towards the life of an assassin when she was just a child, under the supervision of Madame B in the Red Room. She consistently excelled at her training, but would intentionally show inadequacy in order to not proceed to the graduation ceremony, sterilization. However, she eventually passed all her tests and was forced to undergo sterilization.[4] Her ruthless effectiveness in later years earned her the codename, "Black Widow."

This life underwent a dramatic change when she was targeted for assassination herself, and the agent sent to kill her was the similarly gifted soldier, Clinton Barton. Instead of killing her, Barton spared her life and the pair developed a lasting partnership from that moment on. Following Barton, the Black Widow was drawn into a new life as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Her past, however, would remain a touchy subject for her, and Widow tried to start a new life going by the name "Natasha Romanoff." On several occasions, she cited a desire to atone for past deeds, which she described as being "red on her ledger" that she wanted to wipe out. At one point she and Barton undertook a mission in Budapest, though the two would remember the details of the mission differently. [5]

During a mission to protect a Nigerian scientist, Romanoff was confronted by the ruthless Winter Soldier, who eliminated his target by literally shooting through Romanoff when she tried to shield him, which left a small scar on her hip.[1]

Stark Industries

Years later, Romanoff later drew an assignment working in the Stark Industries Legal Department under the alias of Natalie Rushman. The ulterior motive was for her to keep an eye on Tony Stark after he signed his company over to Pepper Potts. In reality, Romanoff had been assigned by S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury to assess whether he was suitable for the Avengers Initiative, a plan to bring together a group of people with unparalleled talents. Stark ran a search on her and discovered that she was fluent in French, Russian, Latin; and had done some modeling in Japan at some point. Romanoff became Tony's new assistant while he was in Monaco. She also flirted with him at his birthday party when he started to get suspicious about where she had come from.

Working With Iron Man

Natasha Romanoff (Earth-199999) 0006

Agent Romanoff posing as "Natalie Rushman".

She arrived at a meeting Fury was having with Tony Stark in Randy's Donuts, where Fury revealed her true name and affiliation. Natasha, along with Fury and Agent Phil Coulson, went to Tony's house and she was told by Fury that she was to remain in position as an assistant. Later at Stark Industries, while Tony was visiting Pepper Potts, Natasha walked in and requested for Potts to sign something. When Potts left, Tony started to grill Natasha and told her that he found it amazing that she could remain so calm undercover. When Tony claimed that she could not speak other languages, Natasha replied in Latin, then repeated herself in English, telling him that he could, "Either get, or be collected."

Romanoff attended the next Stark Expo, where Justin Hammer of Hammer Advanced Weapons Systems unveiled his new Hammer Drones and the War Machine Armor worn by Lt. Col. James Rhodes. Stark also arrived uninvited in his new and improved Iron Man Armor to warn Rhodes about an impending attack from Ivan Vanko. It was then that Vanko surprised everyone by remotely gaining control of both the Hammer Drones and the War Machine Armor. While Stark led the immediate threat of the machines away from the Expo, Potts and Romanoff confronted Hammer demanding to know Vanko's location. Romanoff put him in a neck lock and broke one of his glasses' lenses to force his confession. She then had Happy Hogan drive her to the nearest Hammer Industries facility, where Vanko was controlling the drones.

Natasha Romanoff (Earth-199999)

Romanoff takes on Justin Hammer's security forces.

Once at the site, Romanoff left Happy to deal with a lone security guard while she penetrated deep into the facility and systematically disabled many more of the security force. Vanko had already abandoned his control systems and left by the time Romanoff found them. She quickly set about restoring control of the War Machine Armor to Rhodes and was also able to radio tactical data, initially warned Rhodes and Stark of an incoming wave of drones and another armored battlesuit, this one worn by Vanko.[2] She then proceeded to steal Hammer's development projects and fled before the police came to the facility, just as it exploded.[6]

The Big Guy

Following this, Natasha was assigned to a new mission: trail the runaway scientist Bruce Banner because the agent previously assigned to the case, Agent Jasper Sitwell, had been redeployed to Puente Antiguo. She first came across him during the military siege at Culver University, where he became the Hulk right before her. Fury ordered her not to let General Thaddeus Ross take the Hulk away, but his own destructive force prevented her from doing anything more than report on his fight with Sgt. Emil Blonsky.[7]

She later headed to Harlem, New York to continue S.H.I.E.L.D.'s attempts to prevent Banner from being taken by the military, but arrived too late. Fury sent her to meet Dr. Samuel Sterns and make sure Banner left nothing he could work with. After an encounter with the Abomination (Blonsky's new monstrous form), she headed to Sterns' lab where she found him trapped. His head had become grotesquely deformed and he began raving, going on to ask Natasha to join him, but she rejected his offer by shooting his kneecap.

Having caught a glimpse of the Hulk's highly destructive battle with the Abomination in the distance, she reported to Fury that the entire situation involving not only the Hulk, but also Tony Stark's inventions and the Asgardians' arrival in Puente Antiguo had become too much for S.H.I.E.L.D. to handle as it was.[8]

Around a year later, while in the middle of interrogating Georgi Luchkov, Romanoff received a call from Agent Coulson informing her of her next mission. She was to approach Banner, who had retreated to Calcutta, and enlist his aid in locating the Tesseract, a dangerous object that had been stolen from S.H.I.E.L.D. by the Asgardian Loki, who had also taken Agent Barton. Even though the thought of Banner's immensely powerful alter ago terrified her, Romanoff carried out the assignment with aplomb and soon had Banner on board.

Wading Into A War

Marvel's The Avengers film poster 022

Her next assignment was to apprehend Loki with Steve Rogers (aka "Captain America"). The mission was successful, although it took the combined skills of Rogers, Tony Stark in his Iron Man armor, and Natasha herself at the gun controls of a S.H.I.E.L.D. jet to subdue him. On the return trip, they also encountered Loki's brother Thor, who had plans of his own to retrieve Loki and the Tesseract.

Natasha's skills as an interrogator made her a prime choice for extracting information from Loki once S.H.I.E.L.D. had him in custody. She adeptly tricked the trickster into revealing that Loki planned on releasing the Hulk on the team, although his manipulative responses had also hit their mark (citing unspecified incidents presumably from past missions involving Sao Paulo, the daughter of an individual named Dreykov and a hospital fire), and Romanoff became increasingly obsessive about finding restitution for her past. Foremost in these thoughts was her need to wrest Agent Barton from Loki's control, but she found that she didn't have to search. Instead, Barton, under Loki's control, came to them. Barton, leading a commando team against the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, caused an explosion that collapsed part of the ceiling on Romanoff and Banner. This triggered Banner's transformation into the Hulk and rapidly escalated the problem of enemy infiltration to a chaotic two-front war, with Romanoff barely escaping the Hulk's ferocity with her life. During the chaos she also encountered Agent Barton, and engaged him in a lengthy brawling duel that only ended when blows to his head knocked him unconscious.

Battle of New York

Loki's escape presented a fresh problem for the survivors of the attack. Romanoff attended to her old partner while others counted their losses, but she was quick to join them once they had resolved to go on the offensive. Following Loki to Manhattan, Romanoff and the others were confronted by the sight of a huge dimensional rift above the city. Loki's army, a horde of Chitauri warriors, came pouring through and Romanoff found herself again battling in close quarters, this time against an alien foe bent on world domination.

The martial arts skills and small arms of the Black Widow were ideal for battling the Chitauri in the streets, and when her own weaponry was spent, she made good use of Chitauri armaments turned on their previous owners. Eventually she captured one of their aircraft and used it to reach the top of Stark Tower where she was instrumental in dealing with the device that held the portal open, thus sealing the rift and barring the amassed forces still waiting to pass through.

When the battle was over, Romanoff gathered with the others to see off Thor and the captive Loki. The threat had been neutralized and for a time the world would have little need of its protectors. The others went their separate ways, while Romanoff and Barton returned to S.H.I.E.L.D.[5]

Spies and Soldiers

Natasha Romanoff (Earth-199999) TWS 001

Captain America and Black Widow

Black Widow became a frequent comrade-in-arms of Captain America when they were assigned on missions together. They became the co-leaders of the counter-terrorist team S.T.R.I.K.E.

During one rescue mission of a hijacked S.H.I.E.L.D. ship, Nick Fury assigned Black Widow a secret side task to retrieve confidential protected S.H.I.E.L.D. files in a flash drive. The data was more sensitive than she could have guessed, and once it was handed over to Fury he became the target of an assassin. When Romanoff heard that Fury had been gunned down she went to the hospital to keep vigil, and watched helplessly as he was declared dead. Based on Steve's description of the shooter, she identified the killer as the Winter Soldier.

After hiding details of Fury's death, Steve became a fugitive from S.H.I.E.L.D. under the orders of Secretary Alexander Pierce. Natasha joined him to help him retrieve the confidential files from the flash drive, which Fury had already given to Rogers. Natasha tried to hack the protected files but could only discover the location from where they were created, Camp Lehigh.

The Hydra Conspiracy

There, Steve and Natasha discovered a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. base where the consciousness of Arnim Zola revealed that after World War II, he had been recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D., and that he and other German scientists had furthered Hydra's plans for world domination through numerous projects, including the infiltration of and influence on S.H.I.E.L.D. Romanoff interrupted Zola's lengthy exposition of Hydra's activities when her PDA alerted her to an incoming missile. She and Rogers narrowly escaped the resulting blast, and then left the scene before S.H.I.E.L.D. could find them.

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On the run from S.H.I.E.L.D.

The following day, Steve and Natasha sought help from Sam Wilson, who they then pulled into their circle of allies by recovering a flight-exoskeleton for him. The trio then captured and interrogated Agent Sitwell to find out about the conspiracy festering within S.H.I.E.L.D. Under pressure, Sitwell revealed his allegiance to Hydra and that Hydra planned to use Project Insight to massacre the millions of people identified as threats to Hydra's new world order.

Taking Down S.H.I.E.L.D.

Natasha, Steve, and Sam were later attacked by the Winter Soldier and a team of Hydra double agents, led by their former S.T.R.I.K.E. teammate Agent Brock Rumlow. Natasha suffered a bullet wound to her shoulder while trying to elude the Winter Soldier, and Steve was left stunned by the revelation that the Winter Soldier was his old friend Bucky Barnes. With the fight taken out of them, the three heroes were easily captured by S.H.I.E.L.D., but while being transported under guard they were rescued by a disguised Agent Maria Hill who brought them to a hideout where Nick Fury was alive and recuperating. Fury revealed a plan to prevent Pierce from launching Project Insight, involving the replacement of the controller chip of each one of the helicarriers.

Natasha infiltrated the Triskelion disguised as Councilwoman Hawley of the World Security Council and was taken hostage with the other councillors by Pierce as soon as Captain America revealed over the public address system the truth about Hydra controlling S.H.I.E.L.D., and Pierce being their leader. Black Widow eventually dropped her cover and subdued Pierce. She then revealed Nick Fury's survival, and forced Pierce to help Fury release the secrets of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra to the public, as two top-level agents were required to do so. As the files were being uploaded, Pierce activated devices in the security badges of the rest of the Security Council, which killed them. He then attempted to use Natasha for leverage to escape, but she used a micro-EMP device on herself, disabling the badge, and giving time for Fury to shoot Pierce, killing him. The two then escaped the Triskelion in a helicopter to rescue, also rescuing Sam when a helicarrier crashed into the building.

Going Off The Grid

Natasha later appeared before a Senate subcommittee, in which she defended the dismantling of S.H.I.E.L.D. When asked by military officials as to why they shouldn't imprison her for the newly-revealed crimes that she had committed against the U.S., she responded that people like her were needed to defend the world.

Natasha Romanoff (Earth-199999) TWS 003

She later approached Fury's "grave" to say goodbye to Steve, stating that with all of her covers blown, she had to find a new identity. She encouraged him to romantically pursue Agent 13 before passing him a dossier on the Winter Soldier.[1]

Avengers Reassembled

With the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D., Loki's Sceptre, which had been in the midst of so much conflict during the Battle of New York, fell into the hands of Hydra's Baron Strucker, and Romanoff soon rejoined her Avengers teammates in trying to recover it. During this time, she developed a particular connection with Bruce Banner, to the extent that she came to develop the 'Lullaby' system, where she would calm the Hulk down after the immediate mission had been concluded so that he could return to Bruce Banner. Their mission took them to Strucker's Hydra research base in Sokovia where the alien device had been used in experiments to create enhanced soldiers. Romanoff herself helped fight a multitude of Hydra soldiers outside the base while Tony Stark penetrated the old castle and recovered the sceptre.

Avengers Age of Ultron poster 005 Textless

Fresh from victory, the Avengers returned to the newly remodeled Avengers Tower in New York and threw a party to celebrate. Late in the evening when most of the guests had gone home, the men tested their worthiness trying to lift Mjolnir, but each of them were unsuccessful. The game was interrupted when one of Tony Stark's Iron Legion robots made a surprise appearance, and after admitting that it was the result of Stark's Ultron program mixed with his research into the sceptre, it and several more like it, attacked the group. Romanoff took cover behind the wet bar and drew a pistol concealed there to help with the fight, interrupted briefly at one point to drag Dr. Banner in after her. The attack was a diversion however, and one of the robots made off with the sceptre while the Avengers and their friends were engaged in battle.

When reports of robots attacking sources of Vibranium began surfacing, the Avengers raced to a coastal scrapyard in Africa where Stark believed that a substantial quantity of the rare metal might be stored. They arrived shortly after Ultron and its two enhanced allies, twins Wanda and Pietro Maximoff. A fight broke out with the Avengers trying to stop Ultron taking Vibranium from the site, and Romanoff found herself incapacitated by Wanda's power to instil nightmare visions. She languished in a scene from her childhood while the fight carried on around her and the enemy made their escape.

Still haunted by the ghosts of her past, Romanoff had a welcome respite when Barton took the group to his farm, and the laughter of his two children welcoming their "Aunty Natasha" helped to wash away her troubles. She also had time to speak privately with Banner and discuss their feelings for each other, even suggesting that they could depart together, but Banner was quick to point out that there was nowhere that she could be safe with him. Nick Fury also arrived at the farm and spoke with the group at length about stopping Ultron.

After Banner made the observation that Ultron was trying to evolve, the remaining Avengers split into two groups with Black Widow joining Captain America and Hawkeye in a bid to stop Ultron from obtaining cellular regeneration technology in South Korea. The trio raced for their objective, and found that Ultron's plan to create a new android body for itself were already well underway, but the Avengers' arrival caused it to grab the body and flee. Barton located Ultron escaping in a truck trailer in heavy traffic, and when a window of opportunity presented itself Romanoff dropped to the streets on a motorcycle to pursue it herself. She and Rogers managed to jointly fend off a number of Ultron sentries, and although Romanoff was successful in delivering the dormant android to Barton, she was captured by the robots shortly thereafter.

When she awoke, Romanoff found that she had been transported back to Sokovia, where Ultron made a show of demonstrating his latest upgrade before confining her to a cell. She turned to using old Cold War-era communication techniques in a bid to expose her location without being detected, but could do little else but sit and wait.

Endgame

Barton did indeed receive her signal, and eventually she was treated to the welcome sight of Bruce Banner sneaking in alone to free her while the other Avengers, and their new allies, made a show of confronting Ultron outside. Romanoff forced Banner's transformation, and then they too joined the fight to stop the robot.

The Avengers fought hard to break the ranks of Ultron's amassed robot force in the Sokovian city. As the battle wound down, Romanoff and Barton turned their attention to evacuating the civilian populace, but soon she received the call to "sing a lullaby" to the Hulk, and calm him back to his more human state. Her calming technique was interrupted by Ultron, at the controls of the Avengers' very own quinjet, raking the Hulk with gunfire. The Hulk grabbed Romanoff and bore her to safety on a newly arrived S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier before leaping after Ultron to vent his rage. Romanoff soon learned that the Hulk had won over Ultron in the departing quinjet and appealed to him through a video link to disengage the plane's stealth technology, but the Hulk simply severed the connection.

After Ultron's defeat, the Avengers returned to New York. Abandoning the city, they began setting up a new base in Upstate New York for a significantly restructured team, after several Avengers chose to either retire or depart Earth. Romanoff- although mourning Bruce's departure- joining Rogers in welcoming the four new Avengers - Sam Wilson, Col. James Rhodes, Wanda Maximoff, and the Vision.[4]

Sokovia Accords

While working with the new Avengers, Natasha took a particular role in training Wanda in tactical observation, which Wanda attempted to put into practice as the Avengers tracked Brock Rumlow, who had managed to survive the fall of the Triskellion and was looking for revenge upon Captain America. Going by the alias "Crossbones", Rumlow attacked a research lab in Nigeria. Although Widow and the other Avengers were able to stop him stealing a biological weapon, Rumlow triggered his suicide vest, and Wanda's action of throwing him away from Rogers resulted in the destruction of a building and the death of twelve members of a Wakandan outreach program.

The following month, Thaddeus Ross (now Secretary of State) and Tony visited the Avengers base to inform them of the Sokovia Accords, a U.N. legislation that would make the Avengers directly answerable to government authority. Steve openly opposed the documents, while Tony didn't dismiss the idea of regulation. To the surprise of the team, Natasha sided with Tony. Opinions on the Accords divided the team, but before they could argue any further, the team was notified that founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D. Peggy Carter had passed away. Natasha attended the funeral because she felt that Steve needed comforting.

By the time the leaders of the world coming together in Vienna for a ratification of the Accords, Natasha, Tony, Rhodey, and Vision had signed to abide by the accords. At Vienna, Natasha briefly conversed with King T'Chaka of Wakanda and his son T'Challa before the assembly began. The assembly was interrupted due to a bombing which killed several people, including King T'Chaka, with the Winter Soldier being named as the apparent perpetrator.

Following the explosion, Natasha attempted to console T'Challa, but T'Challa was firm when he declared that he was going to kill the Winter Soldier himself. Similarly, Steve expressed his desire to bring Barnes in personally, to which Natasha tried to persuade him against the decision.

Civil War

Natasha, along with Tony and Rhodey, reported for duty under the orders of Everett Ross and the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre in Germany. Steve, T'Challa (who had assumed the mantle of the Black Panther), Barnes, and Sam were soon apprehended and detained to the facility. Natasha was watching Barnes' interrogation when suddenly, the facility went through a complete loss of power. Barnes escaped his cell, so Natasha, Tony, T'Challa, and Agent Sharon Carter tried to prevent him from escaping, but they were unsuccessful. Natasha and Tony soon learned that Steve and Sam escaped along with Barnes. Tony requested for 48 hours from Secretary Ross to bring Steve in peacefully, before agencies started treating him as a fugitive.

Tony decided to assemble his team with Natasha. He needed to travel to Queens, New York for the final member, while Natasha recruited King T'Challa, who still intended on killing Barnes himself. Tony's team, which comprised Natasha, War Machine, Vision, the Black Panther, and an enhanced teenager known as Spider-Man, took to Leipzig/Halle Airport and confronted Captain America, who had assembled his own team of enhanced individuals, which included the Winter Soldier, Falcon, Wanda Maximoff, an enhanced individual who went by the alias Ant-Man, and Hawkeye, whom they brought out of retirement.

Tony and Natasha initially tried to reason with Steve, but a fight soon broke out between the two groups. The battle was evenly matched at first, but as it progressed, it became clear that Steve's allies were losing. Ant-Man, had the capability to shift the density of his molecules, which allowed him to grow to an enormous size. With Iron Man's team momentarily shocked and distracted, Steve and Barnes used the opportunity to make their escape on a quinjet. Black Panther chased after them, but Natasha attacked him before he could prevent their escape, for she realized Tony and T'Challa's approach to take Steve down was wrong.

Tony confronted her later at the Avengers Facility and insulted her by saying she has always played double agent. Tony then informed her that the authorities would be coming for her, to which she replied that she wasn't the one that needed to watch her back. She then departed the facility and went in hiding.[9]

Abilities

Natasha Romanoff is a high level trained combatant and S.H.I.E.L.D. operative. She is fluent in multiple languages including Russian, Italian, and Latin. She also possesses high level computer training and psychologist training. She is deceptively strong, though not superhuman. The Black Widow is a master martial artist, an expert marksman, a natural actress, an infamous seductress, and a gifted veteran spy.

Master Martial Artist: Natasha is an expert in the field of multiple martial arts. Using a series of non-lethal weapons she was able to take down nearly a dozen of Hammer security guards with ease, and without being hit at all. She was able to defeat Agent Barton in combat when he was under Loki's spell. In all out war, her skills yielded similar results, allowing her to dominate numerous Chitauri soldiers in close quarters.

Expert Acrobat: She is an Olympic class athlete, gymnast, acrobat and aerialist capable of many difficult feats.

Expert Marksman: Natasha is a very accurate marksman skilled in sharpshooting and knife throwing.

Multilingual: She is fluent in Latin, Russian, English, French, German, Italian, and various other languages.

Expert Tactician: She is a very effective strategist, tactician, and field commander.

Master Interrogator: Agent Romanoff was able to trick Loki into telling her about his plan to use the Hulk against the Helicarrier. Her most effective tactic is to allow her target to believe they are guiding the conversation (At one point allowing herself to be captured and tortured) so that their questions and comments will provide her with the information she is looking for.

Natasha Romanoff (Earth-199999) 0012

Talented Hacker: Natasha can hack into most computer systems without tripping any firewalls or security. She use this talent to help Rhodes regain control of the War Machine armor and enabled him to help Stark fought the rest of the attacking Hammer drones.

Master Seductress: She is an expert in the field of seduction. Natasha has been infamously known to bend many different men to her will and sometimes even get them to do her bidding for her.

Expert Spy: Natasha is a dangerous secret agent trained in espionage, stealth, disguise, infiltration, and demolitions. Her talents and years of experience have enabled her to reach a high ranking as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Weapon Adaptation: While she usually excels in pistols and her martial arts skills, she can adapt to using weaponry she is not used to, as shown when she uses a Chitauri weapon to lethal efficiency.

Strength level

Black Widow has the strength level of a woman her size and weight that engages in intense regular exercise.



Equipment

Combat suit

Photostatic Veil

Weapons

  • The "orientation," a high-powered lie-detector, is said by Eric Koenig to have been based on Natasha's skill as Nick Fury wanted to create a machine that "even Romanoff couldn't beat."[12]
  • Natasha and Clint Barton were the only agents in S.H.I.E.L.D. history to not need an extraction team when they went on missions,[13] an example could be seen during her mission that involved Georgi Luchkov.[5]
  • During a conversation with Bruce Banner, Natasha revealed that she cannot have children as part of her 'graduation' from training involved an efficient sterilization to ensure that there would be one less thing for agents to 'worry' about outside of missions.

Discover and Discuss

Footnotes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Iron Man 2 (film)
  3. Hot Toys's Official Artwork
  4. 4.0 4.1 Avengers: Age of Ultron
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Marvel's The Avengers
  6. Marvel: The Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week #2
  7. Marvel: The Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week #3
  8. Marvel: The Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week #4
  9. Captain America: Civil War
  10. Massabrook, Nicole (30 March 2017). Scarlett Johansson Teases How Black Widow Will React To The Guardians Of The Galaxy. International Business Times. Retrieved on 24 June 2017.
  11. Eisenberg, Eric (19 December 2012). The Avengers Almost Had Wasp Instead Of Black Widow, Joss Whedon Wanted A Second Villain. Cinemablend. Retrieved on 5 January 2014.
  12. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 19
  13. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 7



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