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How The Black Widow Movie Characters Should Really Look

When Disney finally announced that Black Widow would be getting her own solo movie as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) at Comic-Con in 2019, fans around the world rejoiced. Many felt the news was long overdue — after all, Scarlett Johansson has played Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow since the character entered the MCU in "Iron Man 2" back in 2010. 

As we all know, Black Widow made the ultimate sacrifice in "Avengers: Endgame," giving up her life on Vormir to spare Clint Barton and undo Thanos' devastation. As a result, the "Black Widow" movie takes place in the past, where we learn more about the character's origin and her ties to the mysterious Red Room. And now that the film is on Disney+, we thought it would be a good idea to compare the cast's appearance with their comic book incarnations. So, suit up and get ready for some super spy action as we see how the characters from "Black Widow" should really look.

(Warning — there are major spoilers below.)

But first, who is Black Widow exactly?

Natalia Alianovna "Natasha" Romanova, a.k.a. Natasha Romanoff, was created by Stan Lee, Don Rico, and Don Heck in 1964 as femme fatale "Madame Natasha," sent by Khrushchev to seduce and distract Tony Stark. After being foiled by Iron Man, Black Widow goes on the run for months, avoiding a return to Russia and a confrontation with her superiors over her failure. In these early appearances, Natasha's look is definitely more "spy" and less "supervillain." It's when the character returned in June 1966 as a brainwashed supervillain in "Avengers" #29 that she got her first "costume," which included fishnet stockings, a cape clasped with a "B" around her neck, and a mask. After a few more years, Black Widow decided to reinvent herself as a superhero — by going after Spider-Man during one of his J. Jonah Jameson-imposed "public menace" sprees, no less — and donned the black catsuit so commonly associated with her image in the comics as well as the MCU.

Black Widow's MCU style

So far, Marvel hasn't exactly been adventurous when it comes to Black Widow's look in the MCU. Just about the only part of her appearance to change has been her hair, which has gone through a few different styles and colors — most notably when she went from redheaded to blonde after the events of "Captain America: Civil War," which put her at odds with the United States government and made her a fugitive along with the rest of Cap's crew. Although she's been known to wear office attire or even an evening gown when she's under cover or on assignment, her battle suits throughout the first decade of the franchise have pretty much all been basically black. However, that changes with the "Black Widow" movie, which gives her a brand new outfit and pulls back the curtain on Natasha's mysterious past prior to joining up with the Avengers.

Black Widow's white suit

One Black Widow suit we haven't seen in previous MCU films is what's become known in the comics as the "tactical suit," first introduced to audiences in the 2010 four-issue miniseries "Black Widow: Deadly Origin." It was designed specifically to blend into snowy landscapes, so the suit's utility in the Russian tundra is undeniable. 

And this new outfit definitely comes in handy during Natasha's 2021 solo outing. In order to find the location of the Red Room, Black Widow and her adoptive sister, Yelena Belova, have to fly into a Russian prison and break out their old adoptive dad, Alexei Shostakov. And with all that snow — and trust us, there's a lot of snow in that scene — the tactical suit totally fits the moment. While she does spend the majority of the movie wearing her traditional black outfit, her time in white during "Black Widow" is a nice nod to the character's illustrious comics past.

Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova

One of the new characters being introduced in Black Widow is Yelena Belova, a fellow spy who's a graduate of the infamous "Red Room" where Natasha was trained as a girl. Essentially, she's another Black Widow. On top of that, she's Natasha's adoptive sister and someone who feels a little hurt about her big sis running off, joining the Avengers, and leaving her behind.

In the film, Yelena is played by Florence Pugh ("Midsommar," "Little Women"). Belova's first comic appearance came in "Inhumans" #5 in 1999, and in the years since, she's co-headlined several miniseries with Natasha under the Black Widow mantle. The Marvel Knights "Black Widow" series in 1999 was also the first appearance of the Red Room in "Black Widow" lore. In comics form, Yelena likes to wear crop tops and spandex, not exactly practical when fighting. In the film, however, Pugh's Yelena dresses more appropriately for combat, and she's definitely got a thing for vests that are full of pockets.

Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff/Iron Maiden

Rachel Weisz joins the ranks of Academy Award-winning actors in the MCU by playing Melina Vostokoff in the "Black Widow" movie. Here, Melina is a spy dedicated to the cause of the Red Room. When we first meet her, she's living undercover in America, raising Natasha and Yelena alongside Alexei Shostakov. Later on, we find out that she's a key player in developing the techniques that the villainous Dreykov uses to control the Widows, although she eventually comes to see the error of her ways.

In the comics, Vostokoff is known as the Iron Maiden, a Russian assassin with deep ties to Natasha. Her costume of choice is a flexible full-body armor that increases her strength as well as protecting her from damage. Unfortunately, that awesome outfit doesn't show up in the film. Instead, Melina wears a more traditional Black Widow suit, and while it lacks the intimidating armor of Iron Maiden's comic book attire, it's still a pretty fantastic costume.

O.T. Fagbenie as Rick Mason

One of the new characters joining "Black Widow" is Rick Mason, played by O.T. Fagbenle ("The Handmaid's Tale"). In the comics, Mason is a freelance mercenary and ex-SHIELD agent. The MCU portrays him somewhat canonically, but one new wrinkle here is that the filmmakers have given him a bit of romantic/sexual tension with Natasha. It's one of the reasons why he keeps helping her out, basically working as Natasha's own personal shopper and getting her everything from supplies to a rickety helicopter. As for his history on the printed page, he has connections to the KGB, Nick Fury, and Denis Nayland. In the comics, Mason's just a regular shady guy, no super suit involved, and that's basically the version we get on the screen. Having said that, his ability to wrangle up anything Natasha needs is pretty super in and of itself.

David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian

One of the more striking (and hilarious) characters in "Black Widow" is Alexei Shostakov, also known as Red Guardian. He's the Russian version of Captain America, portrayed by David Harbour ("Stranger Things"). Although there have been multiple Red Guardians throughout Marvel Comics history, Harbour is playing one of the more ... complicated men to wear the costume. 

Shostakov's backstory is a mile long, but the highlights include actually being married to Natasha (there's no "father-daughter" stuff in the comics), dying and coming back as a robot and then as a zombie, and even taking over Clint Barton's Ronin identity. In the MCU's "Black Widow," Shostakov is Natasha and Yelena's adoptive father, but their history together is marred by betrayal, distrust, and emotional pain. Having said that, Shostakov is perhaps the funniest character in the film, and after an extended period of time rotting away in prison, he finally gets to try his suit on again. After barely managing to pull it on, he's happy that it "still fits." This version of Shostakov is clearly past his combat prime — and neither a robot nor a zombie — but he's still got a red suit with a star on his chest.

William Hurt as Thaddeus Ross

General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross is one of the oldest supporting characters in Marvel Comics history — he's been around since the first issue of "The Incredible Hulk" in 1962. William Hurt has portrayed Ross in multiple MCU movies, making his first turn as Ross in 2008's "The Incredible Hulk." First seen as a lieutenant general in the U.S. Army, Ross returned in 2016's "Captain America: Civil War," now the secretary of state. Like the MCU's Ross, the character has hunted the Hulk in the comics, but on the page, he's undergone some severe transformations. In his obsession to defeat the Hulk at any cost, Ross himself "hulked" out as Red Hulk, hoping to match his nemesis pound for pound. Things didn't work out, of course, and after cutting a swath through much of the Marvel Universe, Ross settled into an uneasy hero role, albeit one with extreme anger issues. Unfortunately, he never goes into Hulk mode during "Black Widow," but it's still nice to see the Oscar-winning actor in the MCU.

The Taskmaster

For a long time, Marvel refused to tell us who was playing the villainous Taskmaster in "Black Widow," but the trailers showed the character in action, delivering some pretty sweet, action-packed moves. 

The illustrated version of the Taskmaster has a super complicated backstory, but then, doesn't everyone in Marvel? Tony Masters was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who was exposed to the Nazi version of the super-soldier serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America — but in Masters' case, it enhanced his "photographic reflexes," giving him the power to instantly learn, mimic, and mirror an opponent's fighting style. That's made him exceptionally difficult to beat as he's torn his way through a series of superheroes, including Deadpool, the Punisher, and a few select Avengers. A mercenary by trade, Taskmaster wears a skull mask in homage to Santa Muerte, the Catholic personification of Death. 

And when it comes to their outfits, the comic book Taskmaster looks a lot like the MCU's villain. The movie character's outfit is faithful to the spirit of the comics, if not slavish in execution. Of course, when it comes to who's wearing the mask, the Marvel Cinematic Universe goes in a completely different direction. Instead of it being Tony Masters mimicking Natasha's moves, this time, it's Antonia Dreykov (Olga Kurylenko), the daughter of the villain who's running the Red Room. It's a nice little twist — one that's 100% connected to Natasha Romanoff's feelings of intense guilt about her past — and it helps take the character of Taskmaster in new and exciting directions.