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Everything You Need to Know Before Watching Black Widow

Black Widow has been on one doozy of a cinematic journey across the MCU. If you're a bit behind on Natasha Romanov's backstory, you might need a refresher before you catch her solo film.
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Black Widow is the first Marvel movie to hit theaters in two years, following the July 2019 release of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Suffice it to say, fans are ecstatic to see another superhero adventure on the big screen after missing their favorite heroes. If you’re ready to just jump right into Black Widow and enjoy the fun, you’re going to love it.

But, in true Marvel fashion, you might want to get a bit of background before you jump into this one so that you have some idea of what’s going on. Let’s see how Natasha Romanov got to where she is in her upcoming solo film.

Warning: Major spoilers for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe follow. Read on at your own peril.

Who Is Black Widow?

The Black Widow, also known as Natasha Romanov, is a Russian-born super-spy first introduced to the MCU in the 2010 film Iron Man 2. Romanov is pivotal to the formation of the Avengers, as she helps SHIELD’s director, Nick Fury, bring together all of the superheroes who will make up the team of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

Black Widow as she appears in the second Iron Man film
Marvel Studios | Paramount Pictures

Throughout the first phase of the MCU, Black Widow serves as connective tissue for the universe, providing a through-line that shows how SHIELD is always watching. Her genuine desire to put her grim past behind her and be a part of something greater than herself makes her a relatable character, and we get a great sense of why Natasha fights for the good guys now throughout 2012’s The Avengers.

Troubled History, Troubled Future

In the 2015 film Avengers: Age of Ultron, Natasha confides in Bruce Banner about how she understands what it’s like to view oneself as a monster. While she doesn’t turn into a big green rage monster as Bruce does, she was trained from the time she was a little girl to be a killer super-spy, making the concept of having a normal relationship or a biological family a distant dream for her. The Avengers are the closest thing she’s ever had to family, which makes her ferocity in defending them that much more believable.

The next time we catch up with Black Widow is in the 2016 film Captain America: Civil War, where she sides with Steve Rogers in his conflict with Tony Stark. By helping Cap defy the Sokovia Accords, Nat makes herself a fugitive from the law. In the fallout of the Civil War, Nat ends up on the run, when the events of the film Black Widow take place. However, due to this unusual chronological placement, we know how things go for Nat after her brush with Taskmaster in her own film.

Black Widow
Marvel Studios | Disney

Black Widow’s Fate

In the 2019 film Avengers: Endgame, the superhero team enacts a daring “Time Heist” to undo all the damage the Mad Titan Thanos causes to their world. On a distant planet called Virmire, Natasha and her best friend, Clint Barton, learn that the only way to acquire a magical item they need, the Soul Stone, is for one of them to sacrifice their own life. Clint, a broken man who has had his family taken from him by Thanos, quickly offers to leap into the unknown.

However, Nat disagrees, arguing that she needs to be the one to lay down her life for her found family. In a heartbreaking and controversial sequence, Nat manages to be the first one to the edge of the sacrificial cliff, giving her life so that Clint and the rest of the Avengers can survive.

What’s Next for Black Widow?

This puts Nat’s solo outing in an interesting position. While we know her ultimate fate, we’re now traveling back in time to watch her go out on one last adventure. Meanwhile, the Marvel universe is going into weirder ways to bring back fan-favorite characters. Just look at the Disney Plus show Loki, which uses a time-travel plotline to revisit an alternate timeline’s version of the Trickster God.

Maybe Natasha can be revived through similar narrative threads. However, in the meantime, we’ll be able to see Natasha Romanov on at least one more adventure in Black Widow, which hits theaters on July 9.