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The Biggest Questions We Want Answered In Black Widow

Despite being one of the first superheroes introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it has taken Natasha Romanoff more than a decade to finally headline her own solo movie. Aside from sitting on the sidelines and watching while Iron Man, Cap, Thor and more received franchises bearing their names, "Black Widow" was finally greenlit, but on the eve of its release came an enemy as terrifying as any comic villain: the COVID-19 shutdown. 

As the global shutdown of theaters kept delaying the release date and movies like "Wonder Woman 1984" debuted to home-quarantined audiences, Marvel held their ground, saying "Widow" would wait. Now, the film is finally gearing up for its triumphant debut across the world. 

Set after the events of "Captain America: Civil War," "Black Widow" will see Scarlett Johansson reprising her role as Natasha, who embarks on a personal mission back to her home country of Russia. There she must deal with the Red Room program, which is a secret organization tasked with creating super assassins like Natasha herself. Joining her on this mission are Natasha's old allies, most of whom have never been seen in the MCU before. 

Many fans are hyped to finally see Black Widow get her own well-deserved solo film, even if it is an inevitability that the character's journey will end in tragedy with her death on the planet Vormir in "Avengers: Endgame." Despite her fate already sealed, there are still a few questions regarding the past and future of Natasha Romanoff that fans hope "Black Widow" will shed some light on. Here are 14 questions the film will hopefully answer.   

What made Natasha switch sides?

When first introduced in "Iron Man 2," Natasha was already working for the U.S. government under Nick Fury as an agent of SHIELD. But it was later revealed that she had not been born an American citizen. Natasha Romanoff was born and raised in Russia to be a spy and an assassin, training with the deadliest people in the business to become the perfect weapon.  

For a long time, Natasha acted under Russian orders. During that time, she performed a great many actions that she later came to regret. But then somewhere down the road, Natasha had a change of heart. That was when she decided to defect to America and work for SHIELD.

Since a large part of "Black Widow" takes place in Russia, fans will hopefully get a deep dive into Natasha's life before she moved to the U.S., shining light on the exact reasons why she wanted to defect from her birth country and start a new life.   

Why have we never heard of her family?

In past movies, Natasha has always been depicted as a loner, even more so than Steve Rogers or Bruce Banner. While the other heroes make an attempt to form personal connections, Natasha goes out of her way to keep everyone at arm's length. At least, until she let her guard down and began thinking of the Avengers as family. 

But the trailer for "Black Widow" has shown that Natasha had another family of extraordinary individuals back in Russia. These include Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour), and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz). In the book, "Marvel's Black Widow: The Official Movie Special Book" (via CBR), Harbour talks about Natasha's relationship with the newest Marvel characters to make the jump from the comics to the big screen. Harbour explains, "the connection to [Alexei, Yelena, and Melina] and Black Widow is that they were set up as a spy family in America in the '90s. So, Rachel Weisz's character, Melina, was sort of the mom, Alexei was the dad and Natasha and Yelena were their little kids."

The "Black Widow" trailer has shown that the members of this "fake" family still care a great deal about each other. So where were they in past MCU movies? And why are we only hearing about them in what looks to be Natasha's final adventure? 

How did Natasha meet Hawkeye?

While Natasha Romanoff considers the entire Avengers team her family, her relationship with Jeremy Renner's Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye) is clearly the strongest. The two have inside jokes from past adventures — like references to a previous mission in Budapest — and Natasha was the only Avenger who knew about Clint's family farm in "Avengers: Age of Ultron."

Considering this closeness, not to mention the fact that Natasha sacrifices herself to save Clint on the planet Vormir, fans are hoping "Black Widow" will shed some light on the beginning of Nat and Clint's friendship. While we don't know for certain if Renner will have a part to play in "Black Widow," one particular character from the movie (Pugh's Yelena Belova) has already been confirmed to feature in the Disney+ "Hawkeye" series currently in development. 

So, it is safe to say there is going to be some overlap between the plotlines of "Black Widow" and "Hawkeye." It would be a fitting tribute to Nat and Clint's shared history if fans saw how Hawkeye helped Natasha with the process of defecting from Russia and starting a new life in America as a part of SHIELD.  

Does Russia have its own Super Soldiers?

The serum that turned skinny little Steve Rogers into buff alpha male Captain America is like the Holy Grail of the MCU. Over time, there have been many attempts to create a new super soldier serum (most recently depicted in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier"), but always with less-than-desirable results because of the complexity of the serum's formula. That is why it is surprising to discover that Russia apparently developed its own version of the serum quite some time ago.

David Harbour appears in "Black Widow" as Alexei Shostakov (aka Red Guardian). Alexei is described as the Russian counterpart to Captain America, a super soldier who fights for his country. The difference between Steve and Alexei appears to be that the latter is a much more laidback person. Harbour described his character to TheWrap as flawed, explaining "He's not the heroic, noble man that you want him to be. He both comically and tragically has a lot of flaws."

So now that we know there was a super soldier other than Steve Rogers or Bucky Barnes running around the world all this time, the big question is are there more such soldiers? Do other countries have their own, possibly secret, versions of super soldiers, superheroes, and maybe even their own superhero teams? And can such non-American superhumans pose a threat to the Avengers in future MCU movies?   

Who was Natasha before becoming Black Widow?

Part of the reason why Natasha's past is so mysterious is because the bits of her life before she was inducted into the Red Room program are almost a complete blank. Audiences don't know who Nat's parents were, what her home life was like as a child, or why she had to become Black Widow in the first place. 

These undisclosed details are ripe for exploration in "Black Widow." They can help give us an idea about who Natasha is as a person and the tragic circumstances that led to her turning from KGB assassin to SHIELD agent to Avenger. 

Some of those details have already been discussed in the "Black Widow Prelude" two-part comic series that was released in 2020. The comic explains parts of Natasha's backstory that she revealed to Nick Fury during her early days in SHIELD, from living on the streets in Russia at a young age, to attracting the attention of a General Dreykov. The General saw potential in Natasha, and sent her to the Red Room under the tutelage of a famed assassin mentor known only as Madame B, setting Natasha on the path to becoming Black Widow. Hopefully, at least some of this backstory will be expanded upon in the movie.      

Where are Steve Rogers and his allies?

Such is the deeply interconnected nature of the MCU that now every time a new movie comes out with a solo hero, fans are left wondering why the other Avengers are not involved. The same question arises regarding "Black Widow." Since it is set soon after the events of "Captain America: Civil War," we know Natasha has recently betrayed Iron Man's team in order to allow Captain America and Bucky to escape, becoming a fugitive in the process.

You would think this sort of sacrifice would elicit some sort of a payback from a grateful Captain America. After all, at the end of "Captain America: Civil War" we saw Steve break into a maximum security prison in order to rescue Wanda Maximoff and Sam Wilson, who had been his allies in Cap's fight against Iron Man. 

So it would be very strange if Steve would then allow another close ally like Natasha to face her problems on her own without making some sort of effort to help. So far, there has been no confirmation that "Black Widow" features an appearance by Captain America. But considering how close Steve and Nat became ever since the events of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," it would be a disservice to their relationship if Steve does not lend a helping hand in some capacity during "Black Widow." 

Is Rachel Weisz playing Iron Maiden?

Black Widow's new allies in her solo movie are portrayed by some pretty big name stars, from Florence Pugh and David Harbour to Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz. Weisz plays the role of Melina, a secret agent who once played the role of Natasha's mother on a secret mission to America. From the trailers and teasers released so far, Melina seems nothing but supportive of Natasha's quest to end the machinations of the Red Room.

But one detail hints at a darker secret regarding Melina. When Marvel Studios released a set of emojis to celebrate the release of "Black Widow," Melina's surname was revealed to be "Vostokoff." Fans who know Black Widow's history from the comics are aware that Melina Vostokoff is actually a supervillain who calls herself Iron Maiden. In the comics, Melina was a fellow Black Widow who got tired of living perpetually in Natasha's shadow and swore to someday destroy her rival.

The movie appears to have made Melina into more of a mentor figure to Natasha than a rival, but there might still be parts of her identity that the studio wants to keep secret. During an interview Weisz had with Jimmy Kimmel, when he introduced her character as Melina Vostokoff, she was quick to point out, "I think we are prohibited from saying Melina's second name. I think it's a Marvel Cinematic Universe secret ... but, oh well, you've done it now."

As the film's release inches closer, many fans are hoping Rachel Weisz plays Iron Maiden ... and no, they don't mean on her Spotify.

Will Natasha and Nick Fury get a proper good bye?

Out of all the people in the MCU, Natasha is possibly closest to Clint Barton and Nick Fury. When Natasha defected from Russia to the U.S., it was Fury who inducted her into SHIELD. Throughout the MCU, Natasha's involvement with the Avengers was on direct orders from Fury, and she was one of his most trusted lieutenants. 

The tragic thing regarding Fury and Natasha is the two never really got any sort of a meaningful goodbye. After the Avengers broke apart following the events of "Captain America: Civil War," we never got to see Natasha and Fury in the same scene again. Fury was dusted at the end of "Avengers: Infinity War." By the time he returned at the end of "Avengers: Endgame," Natasha had sacrificed her life to save Clint and get the soul stone. 

So, fans feel there are some final moments missing from the story of Fury and Natasha's relationship that will hopefully be supplied by "Black Widow." Considering the deeply personal nature of Nat's mission in the movie, with ties to her past before she came to America, Fury seems like the perfect person to lend support — and hopefully find the time to bid her a proper goodbye.  

Is this the final MCU appearance of Scarlett Johansson?

The last few MCU movies have been hard on fans, since they have had to say goodbye to so many popular actors from the franchise, particularly Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans. Even though Scarlet Johansson is finally getting her own solo movie as Black Widow, we also know that Natasha's story ends with "Avengers: Endgame."

So, unlike the "Thor" or "Iron Man" or "Captain America" films, which got multiple sequels, it seems that Natasha will not be getting additional "Black Widow" movies. At least not with Johansson returning as the lead character. So does that mean the immensely popular actress will be bidding a final goodbye to the MCU after her solo film? 

In any other franchise, the answer would be yes, considering we already know how Nat is going to die. But time travel is a thing in the MCU. As is magic, alternate universes, and technology that might as well be magic. There are actually many ways that Johansson's character could be resurrected and return to the MCU. It remains to be seen, however, if the actress herself would want to climb back into the black leather suit for a fresh round of Black Widow adventures.  

Is Yelena Belova the new Black Widow?

Even as the MCU loses many of the original players who put the franchise on the map, it is already setting up new versions of their most popular superheroes. For instance, Sam Wilson has officially taken over the moniker of Captain America, while Clint Barton will be seen training his replacement in the Disney+ "Hawkeye" series

In "Black Widow," Florence Pugh plays the role of Yelena Belova, Natasha's fellow assassin in the Red Room program. Yelena features prominently in the movie's teaser materials, and seems to have many of the same skillsets as Nat. So does this mean that once Natasha is gone, Yelena will become the new Black Widow in the MCU? 

Cate Shortland, the director of "Black Widow," certainly seems to think so. In an interview with Empire magazine, Shortland explained, "Scarlett is so gracious, like, 'Oh, I'm handing [Pugh] the baton.' So it's going to propel another female storyline." Whether this means Yelena will become the new Black Widow or assume a different superhero identity, however, remains to be seen.   

Does Black Widow set up a future Thunderbolts film?

In Marvel Comics, the "Thunderbolts" are a team of supervillains/anti-heroes who function in a manner similar to the "Suicide Squad" of DC Comics. The Thunderbolts are often viewed as a dark reflection of the Avengers, willing to get down and dirty in order to fulfill often less-than-honorable mission goals. 

The MCU has for some time now been laying the groundwork for a "Thunderbolts" film. "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" introduced John Walker, who briefly became Captain America before transforming into the anti-hero USAgent. Walker is a part of the Thunderbolts in the comics, as is Baron Zemo. But the "Black Widow" movie features the most characters that can potentially become members of the Thunderbolts team. 

For instance, Yelena Belova has operated as a member of the Thunderbolts in the comics, as has Taskmaster, the main villain of "Black Widow." But perhaps most significantly, "Black Widow" will feature the return of former Lieutenant General of the United States Army Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross. In the comics, Ross becomes the most powerful member of the Thunderbolts team when he transforms into the Red Hulk.   

What happens to the army of Black Widows?

In the trailers for "Black Widow," we see Natasha fighting against not just a single enemy, but an entire army of fellow Black Widows. At one point, Yelena tells Nat that the Widows are fully conscious but not actually in control of their actions. It then becomes Nat's mission to free the other Widows of their programming, so they don't have to walk down the same dark path.

Assuming that Natasha succeeds in her mission, what will happen to the entire army of highly-trained, dangerous Black Widows that are freed at the end of the movie? Do they all defect from Russia like Nat did and become SHIELD agents? Or do they continue to reside in Russia and remain a possible threat to the Avengers?   

Florence Pugh, who plays Yelena in "Black Widow," confirmed in an interview with CinemaBlend that the movie puts a special focus on the fate of the other Widows. "I think that's one of the heartbreaks about this film," Pugh explained. "is that it is essentially about women that have been abused. Whether it's about a system, or whether it's about physical abuse. They've all been, in some way, trapped. And I think this film is the realization, or the life, that was taken from them." 

Will Natasha get a new love interest?

Despite being the most sexualized character in the MCU, Natasha Romanoff has been singularly unlucky in matters of love and family. Orphaned at a young age, accustomed to living the life of a double agent, Natasha did manage to find a few brief moments of romance with Bruce Banner — but the relationship was cut short when he decided to leave Earth in fear of going on another destructive rampage as the Hulk. 

While Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, Thor Odinson and Clint Barton have all had special someones, Natasha does not seem to have anyone like that in her life. But that may change with the introduction of actor O-T Fagbenle ("The Handmaid's Tale") in "Black Widow." Fagbenle will play the role of Mason, a former associate who helps get Natasha in contact with underworld dealers to procure all manners of resources that might not be strictly legal. 

"[Mason] can find anything you need as well," Fagbenle explains in Marvel's Black Widow: The Official Movie Special Book (via ComicBook). The actor also hinted at a possible romance, adding, "He's had a relationship doing that work for the Black Widow, and they have a bit of a vibe going on. There's a sense that there's more to their relationship than it being purely work-related, so that's always in the mix."

Who is Taskmaster?

Perhaps the biggest question regarding "Black Widow" pertains to the true identity of the main villain of the film, code-named Taskmaster. The antagonist wears a full-face covering mask, which means he or she can be any character from past MCU films — or someone wholly new, being introduced for the first time.

While the identity of the Taskmaster is a secret, the character could play an important role in the MCU going forward. Despite seemingly being a non-superpowered fighter, what makes the Taskmaster so formidable is their ability to perfectly mimic the fighting style of their opponent in a matter of seconds.

Taskmaster is also a prominent member of the Thunderbolts super team that the MCU has been hinting at for some time now. The common consensus online appears to be that Taskmaster is either Melina or Mason. Whoever the person behind the mask turns out to be, it will be interesting to witness how the Taskmaster impacts the course of the MCU going forward.