Black Widow’s most significant MCU connections

Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) in Marvel Studios’ BLACK WIDOW, in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access. Photo by Jay Maidment. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) in Marvel Studios’ BLACK WIDOW, in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access. Photo by Jay Maidment. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved. /

Black Widow finally gives us the solo movie that the original Avenger deserves. Although the movie’s storyline ventures outside of her avenging adventures, Black Widow still has many links to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Black Widow is the Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that we have been waiting many years for. It is the film that finally answers the question, where did Natasha get that nifty tactical vest that she wore in Avengers: Infinity War? Seriously though, the fact that Yelena’s jacket is easily recognizable as the same piece of clothing that Natasha wears during the battle of Wakanda deepens the sisterly bond at the center of Black Widow.

The long-awaited action thriller specifically takes place after Natasha goes into hiding, following Captain America: Civil War, and before she joins the Secret Avengers that face off against Thanos and his Black Order in Infinity War. But even though this is not an origin story, the beginning of the film takes us back to 1995, where we see that Natasha once had a family before she was a SHIELD agent and Avenger.

Black Widow’s MCU references

Natasha’s parents weren’t really her mother and father, instead were planted in America as spies who were given two girls to make their cover even more believable. Once Red Guardian, the father, and Melina, the mother, make their move, the authorities come after them, and in the 1990s that means SHIELD.

Even though SHIELD has been around in the MCU since the first Iron Man, they have been out of commission since the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But Kevin Feige knows there is always an opportunity to include them whenever we visit previous decades, such as the Ant-Man intro being set in the SHIELD headquarters in the late 1980s.

The organization also had a big presence in Captain Marvel, which “coincidentally” takes place the same year as the Black Widow prologue. This means that, while major SHIELD players, such as Nick Fury and Phil Coulson, were dealing with aliens on the west coast, another team of agents were after the Russian sleeper cell in Ohio.

The severity of Natasha’s family potentially being caught in the film’s opening is contrasted with Black Widow’s nonchalant reaction to being sought out by Thunderbolt Ross’ men after she violated the Sokovia Accords. Ross is one of the few characters from the MCU to make an appearance in Black Widow; William Hurt actually made his MCU debut in 2008’s Incredible Hulk, two years before Scarlett Johansson had hers in 2010’s Iron Man 2.

In Black Widow, Natasha returns to Budapest to meet up with her sister Yelena. We first heard about Budapest in The Avengers, when Widow comments to Hawkeye about how the battle of New York reminds her of their time in the Hungarian city. Now we learn that Natasha’s mission was to defect from Russia into SHIELD and she had to prove herself by taking down the Red Room. We even hear Jeremy Renner’s voice in the flashback, when Hawkeye was giving Natasha the green light to blow up Dreykov.

In Avengers: Endgame, Hawkeye quips, “we’re a long way from Budapest” as the pair head to the distant planet of Vormir. Their relationship comes full circle with small revelations in Black Widow – even though Hawkeye is not in the movie, we now know that Budapest was their first mission together, and Vormir ended up being their last.

Before Black Widow, our previous glimpse of Natasha’s experience with the Red Room was in Avengers: Age of Ultron, when the Scarlet Witch put a spell on her, causing a nightmare about that part of her life when she was forced to train alongside other young girls. In that same film, Natasha also told Bruce how the Red Room gave her an involuntary hysterectomy; Yelena goes into graphic detail about the procedure in this movie, much to Red Guardian’s displeasure.

The history of the Red Room is also explored in the MCU-adjacent series Agent Carter – one of that show’s antagonists, Dottie, was a product of the regime back in the 1930s and 1940s. This was way before Russia had technology to chemically rewire their assassins’ brains in order to control them.

Something that was not previously revealed before Black Widow is that Russia had a super soldier of their own, the aforementioned Red Guardian. The new film expands on the super soldier chronicles in the Marvel Universe, with Red Guardian becoming an active Russian hero circa the 1980s.

The narrative of such enhanced individuals began during World War II when Dr. Erskine developed a serum that Red Skull and Steve Rogers were given, as evident in Captain America: The First Avenger. Super soldier variations were a part of other content like The Incredible Hulk and the recent show, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, where we learned that Isaiah Bradley was an African American super soldier in the 1950s.

Black Widow, Taskmaster, Marvel Cinematic Universe, MCU
(L-R): Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Taskmaster in Marvel Studios’ BLACK WIDOW, in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access. Photo by Jay Maidment. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved. /

As far as the Black Widow movie is concerned, no other superheroes show up to help the original Avenger. Of course, her teammates are mentioned throughout the story – Yelena tells Natasha that she expected Captain America to topple the Red Room himself. Other Avengers are barely even named… Iron Man and Hulk are referred to as the super scientists, Thor is “the god from space” and Ant-Man is called “the incredible shrinking convict”.

What is more prevalent in Black Widow than her super friends are the heroine’s signature fighting styles and superhero pose; Yelena hilariously makes fun of the latter. The sisters’ adversary, Taskmaster, copies some of the Avengers weapons and maneuvers, such as Captain America, Hawkeye, and Black Panther. To outwit her enemies, the titular hero employs the same facial disguise technology in the climax of the film that was first used by Black Widow in Captain America: The Winter Soldier to defeat Hydra.  Sharon Carter also utilized the impersonation mask in the Falcon and the Winter Soldier series.

Finally, Black Widow wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without a post-credits scene. Here we watch Yelena stop by Natasha’s grave after passing away in Avengers: Endgame. Then we are hit with the surprise that Natasha’s sister is now working alongside Contessa Valentina, the same influential broker who recruited John Walker, aka US Agent, in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

Valentina persuades Yelena to go after the man she claims is responsible for Black Widow’s death, Hawkeye. The archer Avenger did not have a role in the Black Widow movie, but will instead have his own Disney Plus series. Perhaps a plot point for that show will involve Yelena avenging her sister by trying to kill Hawkeye.

Next. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's MCU connections. dark

Are you looking forward to seeing more of Yelena in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Did you enjoy Black Widow? Let us know in the comments below!