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REAL NAME: Natalia “Natasha” Alianovna Romanova (“Natasha” is the informal version of the name “Natalia,” and is used by her close associates. Sometimes she has chosen to Anglicize her last name as “Romanoff.” She has dropped her married name of “Shostakova.”)
KNOWN ALIASES: Natasha Romanoff, Nancy Rushman, Laura Matthers, Oktober, Tsarina, Natalia Shostakova
IDENTITY: Publicly known
OCCUPATION: Adventurer, intelligence agent, former ballerina
CITIZENSHIP: Former citizen of the U.S.S.R. who defected to the United States; she now lives in the United States under an extended visa authorized by S.H.I.E.L.D.; she has a criminal record in the United States for her espionage activities for other nations, but was granted amnesty through S.H.I.E.L.D.’s intervention.
PLACE OF BIRTH: Stalingrad, former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics now Volgograd, Russia
KNOWN RELATIVES: Unnamed parents (presumed deceased), Alexi Shostakov (alias Red Guardian I, husband, deceased), Vindiktor (alleged brother, deceased)
GROUP AFFILIATION: Avengers, former member of the “Marvel Knights”, Queen’s Vengeance, Champions of Los Angeles, Lady Liberators, and K.G.B., former partner of Daredevil frequent freelance agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
BASE OF OPERATION: Mobile, but maintains a home in New York City
EDUCATION: College graduate
FRIST APPEARANCE: Tales of Suspense Vol. 1 #52 (1964)

HISTORY: Natasha Romanoff, a rumored descendant of Russia’s royal family. But nothing else is known of her family. During World War II, a Nazi assault upon Stalingrad set the building she was in on fire. A woman, possibly her mother, threw her into the arms of a Russian soldier named Ivan Petrovich before being consumed by the flames.

Ivan brought Natasha under his protection and soon had to defend her from her many enemies. In 1941, Natasha was sought by the Nazi Baron Strucker, who presented her to the Hand to become their master assassin. She was saved from Strucker and the Hand by Ivan, the American super hero Captain America, and the Canadian adventurer Logan.

Under Ivan’s care, Natasha grew to pursue her goal of becoming a ballet dancer and studied under Oksana Bolishinko, a famous Bolshoi instructor. She fell in love with and married a Soviet test pilot named Alexi Shostakov. It was decided at the K.G.B., the department of the Soviet government which serves as the intelligence agency and secret police, which the Shostakovs would make good special operatives. While Alexi Shostakovs was away on a mission, he was informed of the state’s new plans for him, and told that from then on he could have no contact with past friends and acquaintances, including even his own wife. Shostakov was then trained to become the Red Guardian, a costumed agent who was intended to act as the Soviet Union’s counterpart to Captain America. Meanwhile, a Soviet officer told Natalia Shostakova that her husband had died in the explosion of an experimental rocket he was testing. Distraught, Natasha decided that she would honor Alexi’s memory by becoming an intelligence operative, not realizing that this was what the K.G.B. had hoped would happen when they informed her of Alexi’s death. She was instructed by the K.G.B. in their infamous Red Room Academy and under their training, she became their most skilled operative, a superb fighter and information-gatherer. The K.G.B gave her the code name of “Black Widow,” and quickly sent her into the field

When Logan resurfaced in America, now bereft of his memory, Natasha set out as the Black Widow to save him from a team of Hydra assassins. She soon encountered Logan again when he, Ben Grimm, and Carol Danvers stole the Red Storm Project from Russia. Natasha pursued them but was ordered off by her superiors.

Her first major field assignment was to infiltrate Stark Industries in the United States and to assist her partner Boris Turgenov in the assassination of the defector Professor Anton Vanko, who was the creator of the Soviet Crimson Dynamo. Natasha attempted to distract Tony Stark while her partner Boris Turgenov used the Crimson Dynamo to destroy Stark’s plants. Turgenov and Vanko wound up perishing in battle, and Natasha remained in America to find some way of regaining the K.G.B.’s favor.

Since Tony Stark was still unaware that she was a K.G.B. operative, she continued to romance him so that she could steal a new antigravity device he had created. She managed to use the device to commit various acts of sabotage, even lifting entire buildings into the air, but Iron Man nullified the device and she barely escaped capture, now unable to trick Stark into lowering his guard.

By luck, Natasha happened upon the novice costumed crime fighter Hawkeye, who had been mistaken for a criminal by the police. Hawkeye was so taken with Natasha that she was able to entice him into on attempt at stealing plans from Tony Stark. Hawkeye fought Iron Man while Natasha watched from a distance, but when Iron Man deflected one of Hawkeye’s explosive arrows, the force of the impact struck Natasha down, knocking her unconscious. Hawkeye fled the scene to help Natasha recover.

After Natasha recovered, her superiors instructed her to avoid Stark Industries for a time and directed her instead to target Williams Innovations. She duped Hawkeye into assaulting that firm, but Spider-Man intervened and Hawkeye turned back as he had begun to suspect his lover’s true motivations. Natasha later sent Hawkeye out on a second attempt to steal Stark’s plans. However, while Hawkeye was gone, she was kidnapped by the K.G.B. and returned to Russia. The K.G.B. designed a new costume for her and equipped her with her “widow’s bite” and “widow’s line.” With these new weapons Natasha joined Hawkeye in battle against Iron Man in an attempt to destroy him, but when Iron Man shocked Natasha with an electrical blast Hawkeye disobeyed her orders to save her life once again. The K.G.B. the returned and stole Natasha away from Hawkeye.

This time the K.G.B. brainwashed Natasha to ensure her loyalty to the state; in her next mission, she found herself pitted against Hawkeye, who had become a member of the Avengers. Her love for Hawkeye allowed her to resist the brainwashing, and she finally turned against the K.G.B. She became an ally of the Avengers for awhile, aiding them against the Sons of the Serpent. She also proved instrumental in defeating the alien Ultroids who were certain the Avengers would not kill their leader Ixar because of their oath against killing, but Natasha forced Ixar to surrender, reasoning that as she was not an Avenger, she was not bound by their oaths.

On an assignment for S.H.I.E.L.D., Natasha discovered that Alexi Shostakov was still alive, and had been transformed by the K.G.B. into the costumed hero, the Red Guardian. She and the Avengers opposed the Red Guardian and his masters, and Alexi died in the Battle. For a while Natasha abandoned her identity as the Black Widow, just as the Avengers were about to make her an official member.

Natasha finally decided to resume the Black Widow identity, but soon broke off her relationship with Hawkeye so that she could pursue a solo career. She adopted a new all-black uniform and became a vigilante, battling gangs and organized crime in New York. Ivan had come to America by then, and he served as her chauffeur and confidant. Her new methods of operation brought her into contact with Daredevil, and she soon developed both a professional and personal relationship with him, battling side by side as they fell in love.

Natasha was less taken with Matt’s law partner Froggy Nelson, who was manipulated by the villain Mr. Kline into prosecuting her for the murder of the Scorpion (it was actually a robot duplicate of the Scorpion created by Mr. Kline). Although Natasha was proven innocent, she never truly forgave Froggy for the savagery of his courtroom assault.

Matt broke up with his long-time love, Karen Page, so that he could be with Natasha, and the two of them moved to San Francisco to start a new life together. They fought against menaces such as the Man-Bull, the Blue Talon, Dark Messiah, Angar the Screamer, Ramrod, Terrex, Kraven the Hunter, the Death Stalker, the Owl, El Jaguar, Hydra, and Damon Dran, the Indestructible Man.

Natasha wanted to find a new career for herself beyond the day-to-day adventures she and Daredevil enjoyed, and attempted to become a fashion designer, but her career never took off, and her relationship with Matt became strained.

Natasha left Daredevil briefly to accept an offer of membership in the Avengers after aiding them against Magneto, but she soon left them after determining from a battle against the Lion God that she did not fit into a team environment. Natasha and Matt reconciled for awhile, but after a lengthy romance, Natasha finally broke up with Matt because she felt he did not treat her as an equal in battle.

Still on the West Coast, Natasha joined forces with the Ghost Rider and Angel and Iceman of the X-Men when the gods Hercules and Venus were captured by the armies of Pluto and Ares. After having saved Hercules from a forced marriage, he joined the four heroes to found a new super-hero team, the Champions. Based in Los Angeles and bankrolled by the Angel, the team enjoyed modest success in their adventures. During this time, Natasha became involved with Hercules, but his perspective as an immortal made a long-term relationship seem unimportant. The Champions finally disbanded due to bankruptcy.

Although she and Daredevil had parted ways, the Black Widow was still well-known to Daredevil’s enemies as a woman he had loved, and Natasha was captured by Bullseye to be used as bait in an attempt to slay Daredevil. However, Natasha escaped her bonds and aided Daredevil in defeating Bullseye. Damon Dran, one of Natasha’s enemies from her days with Daredevil, captured Ivan in order to lure Natasha to his island, where he set an army of female combat specialists against her. Dran intended to send an agent impersonating the Black Widow to infiltrate the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and assassinate Nick Fury, but Natasha defeated his agents, warned Fury, and saved Ivan from Dran before S.H.I.E.L.D. bombed Dran’s island.

The Black Widow was once more embroiled in the schemes of the Hand when she attempted to prevent them from stealing the body of their master warrior, Kirgi, from the morgue. The Hand struck Natasha down with poisons that killed her, but Stone of the Chaste restored her to life. She joined forces with Daredevil and Stone against the Hand when they attempted to revive Elektra. Natasha guessed at the time that Elektra had been successfully revived, but kept this from Matt for his own good.

When Natasha learned that Oskana Bolishinko, her old instructor, was in America at the Russian Embassy, she broke into the premises, seeking to apologize to her mentor for abandoning the ballet to become a spy. Oskana replied that Natasha was not the only pupil of hers who had been stolen away by the K.G.B., and that she accepted that espionage was Natasha’s true calling.

Russian agents then created a Life Model Decoy (LMD) of Alexi Shostakov, which they used to dupe Natasha into believing her husband was still alive. With threats of terminating Alexi, they coerced her into performing acts of espionage for Russia against the U.S. Upon gaining the desired technology, the Russians revealed the truth and tried to kill the Widow, but with the aid of Ivan, she defeated them and destroyed the LMD.

Natasha later joined forces with Iron Man to prevent the Russian sleeper agent code named “Oktober” from launching nuclear missile which would have caused World War III. Unknown to Natasha, she herself was Oktober, and succeeded in launching the missiles. Unfortunately, Iron Man prevented them from being detonated and aided Natasha in capturing the K.G.B. agent responsible for Natasha’s reprogramming. The Window also worked alongside Daredevil against the murdering telepath known as Rose, who had target other telepaths, including several members of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s ESPer unit.

S.H.I.E.L.D. sent the Widow to investigate the Molina, the Russian Mafia, which thrust her into the middle of the decades old struggle between two seeming immortals, the vigilante Night Raven and the drug smuggling Yi Yang. The Widow assisted in foiling Yi Yang’s plot and was witness to Yi Yang casting her helicopter on top of the Night Raven. No bodies were found in the wreckage.

Natasha eventually returned to the Avengers and assumed the mantle of leadership, usually managing the team’s operations from Avengers Mansion while allowing the Black Knight to lead in the field. During this time she also became attracted to Captain America, but wound up sleeping with Tony Stark instead. Her tenure as the Avengers’ leader came to a sorrowful end when most of the team was apparently slain battling Onslaught. Unable to rebuild the Avengers roster herself, and threatened with a legal action from the Maria Stark Foundation, the Black Widow allowed the Avengers to dissolve.

Considering herself to be the last Avenger, Natasha embarked upon a personal mission to bring down all of the Avengers’ former enemies, including the Grey Gargoyle and the Masters of Evil. She again encountered Daredevil at this time, who was concerned with her mental state as he witnessed her obsessive hunting of the grey Gargoyle. Natasha’s presence in Daredevil’s life again complicated his relationship with Karen Page, which at that time was still being rebuilt. Although Natasha was willing to rekindle their relationship, she acknowledged that Karen was the woman Matt loved and nobly allowed them their space. Later on, she even offered to assist Karen after she had been framed for by Mr. Fear.

Natasha was also the first person to correctly identify the former members of the Master of Evil who had adopted the guise of the heroic Thunderbolts. She attempted to turn M.A.C.H.-IV and Songbird against Baron Zemo before he could make his move, inspiring them by telling them how Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch had redeemed their own criminal pasts, but Zemo set his plan into motion before they could reach a decision.

The Avengers finally returned and resumed their operations, but the Black Widow has only occasionally assisted them on missions, still feeling responsible for the team’s disbanding. Instead, she has focused on her espionage work. Natasha has accepted several more assignments from S.H.I.E.L.D., such as impersonating the terrorist leader Ebon Flame in order to shut down her organization, Freedom’s Light. She also had Iron Man assist her in infiltrating the forced-labor camp for scientists run by Tuatara under Mandarin’s direction.

Natasha came close to learning some truths about her past when she was led into a trap by a man named Vindiktor, who claimed to have a copy of Natasha’s mother’s diary. This turned out to be false, but as Natasha fought him, he claimed that he was her brother. Unfortunately, Vindiktor died during their battle before Natasha could ascertain if he was telling the truth.

Natasha crossed Daredevil’s path again when he attempted to slay Baby Karen, believing the infant to be the Antichrist. Natasha saved the child, but was badly beaten by Daredevil in the ensuing fight. Karen Page ultimately died protecting the child, and Matt went to Natasha to be consoled and to explain his earlier actions to her. Natasha reconciled with Matt, revealed that she still loved him, but noted that they had grown to far apart to become a couple again.

Recently, Natasha became aware of the presence of another Black Widow, a younger woman named Yelena Belova who had also been trained at the Red Room and who was obsessed with being the sole Black Widow. The two Black Widows first encountered each other while attempting to retrieve the Endless Fury bio weapon created in Rhapistan, which exploded violently. Natasha later had herself and Yelena trade appearances through plastic surgery to help teach Yelena teach Yelena that her superiors considered her expendable

Despite the presence of the other Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff remains one of the world’s most accomplished hand-to-hand combatants, and is quite possibly the most skilled espionage agent alive, still in high demand with S.H.I.E.L.D., though the U.S. government recently attempted to turn her over to the government of Bulgaria in exchange for having the Viper released to the United States. Her most recent S.H.I.E.L.D. assignment has been to trace the whereabouts of the Tinkerer during a plot to investigate the financing of super-villains in America by foreign nations, possibly Latveria.

HEIGHT: 5 ft. 7 in.
WEIGHT: 131 lbs.
EYES: Blue
HAIR: Red-auburn (formerly died black)

STRENGTH LEVEL: The Black Widow possesses the normal human strength of a woman of her age, height, and build who engages in intensive regular exercise.

SUPERHUMAN POWERS: The Black Widow has received a variant of the Super-Soldier Serum which enabled her to remain in peak physical condition for the past several decades, as well as slowing her aging process to some degree

ABILITIES: The Black Widow is an Olympic class athlete

WEAPONRY: Bracelets that contain both the “widow’s line” which fires her cable, and the “widow’s bite” which releases electric bolts to stun her adversaries with a charge of up to 30,000 volts. Her gloves and boots are equipped with miniature suction cups which enable her to cling to surfaces. Her belt contains plastic explosives.

Prevented HYDRA from obtaining Logan (Wolverine Vol. 2 #-1, 1997)
Encountered Ben Grimm and Logan (Before the Fantastic Four: Ben Grimm & Logan #1-3, 2000)
Sent by K.G.B. to kill Anton Vanko, met Tony Stark (Tales of Suspense Vol. 1 #52, 1964)
Stole Stark’s anti-gravity device (Tales of Suspense Vol. 1 #53, 1964)
Met Hawkeye and duped him into battling Iron Man (Tales of Suspense Vol. 1 #57, 1964)
Received costume and weapons (Tales of Suspense Vol. 1 #60, 1964)
Brainwashed by K.G.B., reunited with Hawkeye (Avengers Vol. 1 #29-30, 1966)
Discovered husband had become Red Guardian, witnessed his death (Avengers Vol.1 #43-44, 1967)
Adopted all-black costume (Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #86, 1970)
First met Daredevil (Daredevil Vol. 1 #81, 1971)
Moved to San Francisco with Matt (Daredevil Vol. 1 #86 1972)
Joined the Avengers (Avengers Vol.1 #111, 1973)
Broke up with Daredevil (Daredevil Vol. 1 #124, 1975)
Founded the Champions (Champions #1, 1975)
Killed by the Hand, resurrected by Stone (Daredevil Vol. 1 #187-190, 1982-1983)
Fought Vindiktor (Shadows & Light #1, 1998)
Met Black Widow II (Black Widow Vol. 1 #1-3, 1999)
Traded identities with Yelena Belova (Black Widow Vol. 2 #1-3, 2001)

NOTE : Updated from The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Daredevil 2004

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Something New

12 Things You Didn’t Know About Black Widow

If Natasha Romanoff were real she definitely wouldn’t want you reading these. Here are some things you probably shouldn’t know about Black Widow.

If Black Widow were a real person rather than a comic book character introduced in 1964, she’d pride herself on being one of the most mysterious people in the Marvel Universe. Whether you look at comic books, television shows, or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you won’t find much concrete information about Black Widow since her inception. But that’s exactly what makes her so fascinating in the first place.

Played perfectly by Scarlett Johansson since the onset of the MCU, the only things most fans can say for sure about Black Widow is that she’s Russian, she’s one of the good guys, and she’s got red in her ledger. Don’t you think we deserve to know more?

Taking a look back at the history of Black Widow – the history she would definitely not want us looking into – we’ve compiled a list of 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Black Widow. Now you can prepare yourself before you head to theaters to see Black Widow in Captain America: Civil War.

12 There Was Another Black Widow Before Natasha

If we’re talking about Black Widow, the first thing we should get out of the way is that the Black Widow we all know (or don’t know) and love isn’t exactly Marvel’s first Black Widow. For those Black Widow purists out there, if you want to go all the way back to the early ’40s you’d find a character named Black Widow that wasn’t Natasha Romanoff at all.

This Black Widow – the original Black Widow – confusingly had another secret identity; Claire Voyant. Since this was the early ’40s and the comic book form was still figuring itself out, Claire Voyant wasn’t meant to be taken as a joke, but was rather a very serious character that actually had a willingness to murder and, not unlike Natasha, do things that no one else would do. Despite the cool name (not really) and the cool suit (not so much), the original Black Widow faded away and made room for the real Black Widow, the one called Natasha Romanoff, but also not called that at all, because of the next point…

11 Her Real Name is Natalia Romanova

Like any good spy Black Widow has alternate identities and a hidden past, but the one thing that’s clear from Black Widow’s comic origin is that she was born Natalia Romanova in the Soviet Union. Perhaps westernizing her name when she came to America, perhaps concealing it just enough to keep her past hidden, somewhere along the way Natalia Romanova became Natasha Romanoff, and that’s who we meet in Iron Man 2 when Black Widow enters the MCU.

Since Black Widow’s past is expertly concealed and/or ignored in the MCU – despite the screentime she’s had over various movies and franchises within it – the movie version of Black Widow is as much of an enigma as the comic book version. However, at least in the comics – over the course of various decades – we’ve been treated to glimpses at her past and references to her real name and past life. Such as this next point…

10 She Was Married To a Russian Spy, Among Other People

Depending on what origin story you choose to believe about Black Widow, you could spend a long time delving into her past relationships and seeing the difference between the Black Widow of the comics and the Black Widow of the MCU. In the comics, Natasha was forced to marry Alexi Shostakov by the Soviets, as he was a renowned test pilot and Soviet spy; a good match for someone as accomplished as Natasha. Eventually – despite their marriage last a few years and being generally happy – the KGB faked Alexi’s death, which led to Natasha diving head first in her studies at the secret Red Room Academy and becoming Black Widow.

Other (failed) relationships included moving to California to be with Daredevil, and contemplating a marriage proposal from Hawkeye. Despite another failed relationship, this time with Bucky Barnes, Natasha – never one to quit – hooked up with Hercules while she was leading an Avengers-like team called the Champions of Los Angeles. Suffice to say, none of these relationships worked out for Natasha, and now she roams the MCU occasionally stroking The Hulk’s hand and giving Captain America dating advice. But maybe she’s the only one who can talk to Cap on his own level, considering she has more in common with him than you may think, especially when you look at this next point…

9 She Was Officially Born in 1928 and Fought in WWII

Different than the Black Widow of the MCU that was born in the 80s, the official Black Widow of the comics is unique because superheroes are often ageless as they move through the decades. Other than Captain America, whose key trait is being a man living in a different time, Natasha is one of the only heroes with a clear birthdate in the comics, and that’s because it’s so integral to her backstory.

Born in 1928 and orphaned during an attack on Stalingrad during WWII, Soviet soldiers rescued her and she was eventually induced into a secret USSR sleeper agent program. Trained with a team of elite female agents, Natasha was brainwashed, implanted with false memories, and continually refined to eventually become a bad-ass killing machine. And from there she became the Black Widow, which wasn’t just a cool name she got to pick, but was rather something not very creative at all considering the next fact…

8 She Got Her Name from the Black Widow Program

If Black Widow was trained within the USSR’s secret Black Widow Program with a bunch of other killer female sleeper agents, then it makes you wonder why her superhero name is “Black Widow.” Was everyone that came out of the Program called Black Widow? Was it just Black Widow that got to be called Black Widow? This is confusing and thankfully not addressed in the MCU; instead we’re just left to assume that she’s called Black Widow because she wears black, her hair is red, she’s flexible, and she can kill you if she really wants.

Although the Black Widow program has reappeared rather recently in the pages of Marvel comics, Black Widow’s history with the program has largely been jettisoned as she has been forced to change with the times and enter the modern era. Despite running into other members of the Black Widow Program from time to time, Natasha’s past with the shady organisation that created her has become as shady as the rest of her past, including this next fact that has made its way into the MCU but is about as unclear as anything else…

7 She’s An Accomplished Ballerina. Or Is She?

Black Widow’s past as a Russian ballerina had been covered very briefly onscreen in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and many fans can point to her training as a reason for her flexibility, dedication, poise, and natural athletic skill. It’s a backstory that actually makes sense in the context of her character, but it’s one that has changed over the course of Black Widow’s history in the comics.

While she’s often portrayed in key art with a ballerina’s pose, and while she’s talked about her ballerina training in the past, no one – including Natasha – seems to know what the real deal is in regards to her ballerina training. Some stories of Black Widow claim that she studied ballet as a cover for her spy work, while others say that she was never a ballerina. The latter explanation is uncovered by Natasha when she finds out that she was implanted with false memories of being a ballerina by the Black Widow Program; although it’s never quite clear why. While many fans dissected early trailers of Age of Ultron to point to a Black Widow origin story, that was ultimately never the case, and perhaps it’s for the best considering how tricky her origin would be to explain in the MCU alongside Captain America, if only because of this next point…

6 She’s Biologically Enhanced, Just Like Captain America

File this one under “not in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, yet” but Black Widow is very much a traditional superhero in the sense that she’s biologically advanced and not your average human. Having been given a serum very similar to Steve Rogers’ Super Soldier Serum during her time in the Black Widow Program, Natasha Romanoff is actually resistant to aging and disease, and she has the same super-human strength and agility that Captain America has. That explains why she’s got to keep her 1928 birthdate this long.

Slipping in some technological enhancements along with her biological ones, the Black Widow Program did a good job of creating the Black Widow we all know and training her to utilize her added skills. Having been broken down and built up to become the ultimate weapon, Black Widow is very much the Russian version of Captain America; which could explain why they get along so well as two sides of the same coin. And on top of all of this, Natasha was trained by Bucky after he had become the Winter Soldier. And that’s when she really came into her own and learned to fight, including with weapons we’ve yet to see on-screen…

5 She Can Handle More Than Just Two Pistols

Though the Black Widow of the Marvel Cinematic Universe may seem to have two pistols and (more recently) some type of electric suit, in reality (or comic book reality at least) Black Widow can do a heck of a lot more than shoot people. Adept at nearly every type of martial arts, Black Widow doesn’t even need a weapon if she wants to take someone down. Sure, we’ve seen some of her hand-to-hand combat skills in the MCU, but thanks to the serum she was given by the Black Widow Program she’s also a world-class athlete and is gifted with agility greater than any Olympic gold medalist.

Add to all of that an arsenal of weapons that were designed specifically for her by Soviet scientists as well as S.H.I.E.L.D., and you have a superhero who can do a whole lot more than shoot a gun. Armed with “Widow’s Line” grappling hooks, aerosol knock-out gas, a belt of plastic-explosive-charged discs, and tear gas pellets, Black Widow has a variety of ways to take down enemies. And if getting to those enemies is an issue, she also has a costume outfitted with micro-suction cups which allow her to adhere to walls and ceilings, very much like an actual Black Widow. And like a Black Widow, Black Widow is not someone you’d want to see coming near you, especially in her early days when her bite was directed at the good guys…

4 She Was Initially a Villain

Not always loyal to S.H.I.E.L.D, it stands to reason that when Black Widow was created by the USSR it wasn’t to help America; it was to destroy it. With her skills and carefully brainwashed mind, Black Widow was set lose in her early days to defeat all American heroes and to disband and wipe out the Avengers.

Getting into epic brawls with Spider-Man, Carol Danvers, and Ben Grimm, Natasha manipulated her way into a romantic relationship with Hawkeye in order to get him to work for her and Russia. Although Hawkeye was eventually able to get Natasha to have real feelings for him, turn her against communism and thus get her to defect to America, she still ended up fighting The Avengers before returning to Russia to break ties with her superiors. It was all written off as a side-effect of brainwashing, but not before a significant point in Black Widow’s career as a villain where she attempted to take out one of Marvel’s greatest heroes…

3 She Once Tried to Assassinate Iron Man

Black Widow and Hawkeye start out in the MCU with a deep history that is hinted at having begun far before Tony Stark finds out anything about S.H.I.E.L.D. But in the comics, only half of that origin could be true. Yes, Black Widow and Hawkeye have a deep history together, but that’s only because they worked together as supervillains when they tried to assassinate Iron Man.

An expert at manipulation – perhaps from being manipulated into becoming Black Widow from such an early age – Black Widow romanced Hawkeye and convinced him to help her kill Iron Man. But that was after she had already manipulated Iron Man into a relationship with her, and out of that relationship she got top-secret Stark-Tech until her cover was blown. Now shacking up with Hawkeye, the duo attacked Iron Man and lost, then attacked Spider-Man and lost, then they gave up, turned to S.H.I.E.L.D., and worked for Nick Fury. And is as an underling of Fury that we first met Black Widow on screen, despite that we almost saw her years earlier…

2 A Black Widow Movie Was Written in 2004

Before Marvel made their own movies and ruled the box office they were selling off characters to whichever studios would take them and hoping that a movie stuck. It was during this time, in 2004 to be exact, that Lionsgate bought the rights to Black Widow and started developing an origin story for her. They hired X-Men and X-Men 2 writer David Hayter for the script, and he turned in a draft that saw Natasha adopted as a child, trained as a child assassin, given the Black Widow Program super soldier serum, and eventually defecting from Russia. It was meant to capitalize on the success of recent female-led action films such as Kill Bill and Tomb Raider, but there were two sides to that coin.

With those hit films came bigger female-led bombs, like BloodRayne (what?), Ultraviolet (that’s not a thing, is it?), and Aeon Flux (that was essentially Ultraviolet, right?) When Aeon Flux bombed hard, Black Widow was cancelled three days later and the rights eventually reverted back to Marvel. While Black Widow went on to be played by mega-star Scarlett Johansson and is one of the best parts of the MCU, it’s now 2016 and we’re still waiting for the day that a Black Widow solo movie is announced. And while we’re looking and what could’ve been but ultimately wasn’t…

1 Emily Blunt Nearly Played Black Widow

Emily Blunt as Black Widow isn’t just another one of endless “nearly happened” superhero casting stories. This one actually did happen, as Blunt had officially signed onto the role and was ready to film her first MCU appearance for Iron Man 2. Unfortunately for her, but good news for Scarlett Johansson and everyone that’s a fan of her performance, Blunt had to drop out at the last minute after scheduling conflicts with the film Gulliver’s Travels interfered.

After Blunt dropped out, Marvel turned to Eliza Dushku, Angelina Jolie, and Natalie Portman before settling on Scarlett Johansson; who wasn’t yet the A-lister that she is today. Like they did with Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and most others who have donned a Marvel costume, Marvel Studios finally broke Johansson into the A-list and she is now looked at as one of the biggest female action stars on the planet. And as for Emily Blunt, well, she’ll be okay.

If Natasha Romanoff were real she definitely wouldn’t want you reading these. Here are some things you probably shouldn’t know about Black Widow.