Russian spy Natalia Romanova a.k.a. Black Widow shares more in common with the resident loner of the X-Men, Wolverine, than any other Avenger. As iconic as Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal has become throughout the past decade, movie Black Widow pales in comparison to her comic book counterpart.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)’s interpretation of Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson, have simply relegated most of Natasha’s natural abilities to fancy kicks, widow bites, or calming down The Hulk. Both comic versions of Black Widow and Wolverine were enlisted under secretive agencies, with Widow being placed under the care of the Soviet Union and Wolverine under the Weapon X Program. These two were not only trained to be the best but enhanced by their organizations to make sure that all the hard work would not be in vain.
While Natalia is a very much crucial part of The Avengers team on screen, the films have not made Black Widow truly worthy of her code-name. Aside from being a master spy, Avenger, master marksman, boxer, assassin, martial artist, and pilot, MCU Black Widow shares little in relation to her comic counterpart as far as general abilities. Movie Widow remains a test subject of Russia’s Red Room female spy training facility from childhood, but there is backstory involving further abilities that the films have left out. During her time with the Red Room, Natalia and other Black Widow candidates would be given enhancements by Dr. Lyudmila Kudrin, which would recess their aging as well as grant superhuman abilities. Even Natalia’s specially made stealth suit allows her to stick to walls and ceilings akin to the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. There have yet to be any clear signs in the Marvel films currently released that explore Natasha’s age or enhanced healing from any of her wounds sustained in battle.
The Black Widow of the comics was never quite on the exact same level of characters such as Doctor Doom or even Wolverine, but she is more than capable of taking on other super beings. Black Widow and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man unfortunately never had the chance to share the screen together (one on one) but with comic circumstances, Widow may have given Spidey a good run for his web shooters. During their first encounter in Amazing Spider-Man #86, Natalia in her now infamous tactical jumpsuit, goes up against Spider-Man and nearly comes out the victor before the wall crawler resorts to brute strength to help turn the tide. The closest that Widow has come to fighting an opponent who vastly outclasses her has been Black Order member Proxima Midnight in Avengers Infinity War, which ultimately required the aid of other heroes.
Though the two mediums of comic and film which include Black Widow have not diverged completely, the hero has absolutely had a presence in the MCU since her introduction in Iron Man 2. The MCU’s version of Black Widow even led The Avengers for a time during the five year time skip in Avengers Endgame, following the fatal Thanos snap. Perhaps the long awaited Black Widow film, tentatively scheduled for November, will finally bring more of Natalia’s abilities and powers to the forefront.
Next: Black Widow: 5 Marvel Heroes Who Love Her (& 5 Who Despise Her)