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Biggest Unanswered Questions In Black Widow

It feels like it's taken Scarlett Johansson far too long to get a "Black Widow" solo movie. Most of the other heroes of 2012's "The Avengers" had their own shots at solo franchises, and Black Widow proved to be one of the most compelling parts of 2014's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." But the most famous victim/recruit of Russia's Red Room couldn't be stopped forever. It took waiting out a real-world pandemic and the character's onscreen death in 2019's "Avengers: Endgame," but finally "Black Widow" is here, and we'll be damned if it doesn't feel worth the wait.

One of Natasha Romanoff's defining characteristics is the mystery that surrounds her, and that mystery doesn't die with her on Vormir. While "Black Widow" finally lets us know, for example, exactly what Nat and Hawkeye were doing in the oft-referenced Budapest mission, there are still plenty of questions left on the table about her past, her family, and her status after "Black Widow" — among other things. 

Considering Yelena's bird call in the "Black Widow" post-credits scene was answered not by Nat's own bird call but by a spymaster's sneeze, a lot of these questions may never be answered. Regardless, here are the biggest unanswered questions we have about "Black Widow." Spoilers ahead!

Is Natasha in Norway at the same time as Odin?

Early in "Black Widow," director Cate Shortland uses some clever misdirection. We're led to believe that we're about to get a showdown between Natasha and Secretary Ross' (William Hurt) men in an office building, when in fact Black Widow is already long gone — on a ferry headed for a safe house in Norway. While it likely has nothing to do with the overall story of either "Black Widow" or the MCU, it's interesting that Norway is Natasha's destination, considering who else may be in the country when she arrives.

The events of "Black Widow" are set during 2016's "Captain America: Civil War" — between Tony Stark's confrontation with Nat after the airport battle and the rescue of the anti-registration heroes from the Raft. What's interesting is that 2017's "Thor: Ragnarok" also takes place during the events of "Civil War," and in the beginning of "Ragnarok," we learn Odin has escaped Loki's magic and is waiting in Norway for his sons to arrive.

Nat isn't in Norway for very long. It's during her first night in the safe house that she's attacked by Taskmaster, and soon afterward, she heads for Budapest. But it's at least possible she was in Norway at the same time as Odin, perhaps even on the same day as his death.

Is there a connection between Mason and the Tinkerer?

One of the more mysterious characters of "Black Widow" is Mason, played by O-T Fagnbenle. It's Mason who secures Nat's safe house for her, along with a chopper to rescue Alexei (David Harbour) from prison, and even a quinjet. There's some palpable sexual tension between Mason and Nat — you get the sense either they have a romantic past or that they've been circling each other flirtatiously for a long time. This probably has a lot to do with why Mason is willing to continue supplying Nat even though Secretary Ross is forcing him into a corner.

While we don't get a lot of details about Mason in "Black Widow," it's possible we've met his father. In the comics, Mason is better known as Rick Mason, aka the Agent. His father is Phineas Mason, the Tinkerer, a tech genius known for supplying super villains with their gadgets. While he's never referred to as the Tinkerer onscreen, we meet Phineas Mason (played by Michael Chernus) in 2017's "Spider-Man: Homecoming" working for the Vulture. 

Both are relatively minor characters so far, so it seems likely we'll never know whether or not they're meant to also be father and son in the MCU. Sony might actually object to such a reveal since Tinkerer, unlike Mason, falls under Sony's ownership as a Spider-Man bad guy. Still, you never know.

Is there any real connection between Red Guardian and Captain America?

When we first meet Alexei Shostakov in 1995, he's clearly already an adept storyteller considering he's been hiding his "family" from the authorities for years. He's still telling stories just before Nat and Yelena spring him from prison. In particular, he enjoys regaling his fellow prisoners about his supposedly epic battles with Captain America. The one prisoner brave enough to point out that Steve Rogers was still frozen at the bottom of the ocean when Alexei was supposed to be fighting him pays for it by losing the use of his hand. 

In spite of Alexei's obvious lies, he still seems to think he and Captain America have some kind of history. One of the first things he does after being sprung from prison is to ask Nat whether or not Steve Rogers ever asks about him. 

Is it possible he actually does have some kind of history with Captain America? On one hand, with all the mystery surrounding Steve Rogers' journey to the past at the end of "Avengers: Endgame" — and the changing story about whether that takes place in another timeline or the prime one — could he and a time-traveling Steve Rogers have clashed at some point? On the other hand, could Red Guardian be using some poetic license with a battle that took place not with Steve Rogers but another super soldier? Perhaps Isaiah Bradley or someone like him?

Did breaking Alexei out of prison cost the lives of hundreds of prisoners and guards?

It's been clear ever since her interrogation of Loki in "The Avengers" that the innocent lives Natasha took while working for the Red Room still haunt her. But while we don't hear much about it once the scene is over, it seems likely Nat and her sister took a lot more innocent lives — or, if not innocent, at least not deserving of death — rescuing their adoptive father from prison.

While defending herself from the prison's guards, Yelena unintentionally triggers an avalanche. Nat and Alexei narrowly avoid being swept away by the avalanche, but we never learn the fate of the prison's inmates or guards. Considering the severity of the avalanche and the fact that the heroes were the only ones to have a helicopter they could use to get away, it seems pretty likely most — if not all — were buried beneath it and killed. And strangely, this is never mentioned. Neither Nat, Yelena, nor Alexei betray any kind of regret over what happens.

Who did Taskmaster learn sword fighting from?

There are a lot of differences between the Taskmaster of "Black Widow" and the villain of the source material, including gender. But one thing that remains the same is their abilities. In both the comics and the movie, Taskmaster can instantly perform any martial task they see performed by combat experts. In the film, we see Taskmaster can use a bow and arrow like Hawkeye, an offensive shield like Captain America, and even claws like Black Panther.

We also see Taskmaster using a sword. The thing is, at this point in the MCU, we haven't seen any major heroes or villains using swords — at least none Taskmaster would have access to recordings of. Of course, it isn't like you have to be a superhero or villain to use a sword. Still, almost all the other forms of martial combat we see Taskmaster use come from some major hero. 

It could be this is foreshadowing for the upcoming "Eternals," which will include the premiere of the Ebony Blade-wielding Black Knight played by Kit Harington. Of course, another Marvel hero famous for wielding swords is the vampire hunter Blade, who Mahershala Ali is set to play. We know for a fact parts of "Eternals" will be set in the MCU's past, and it's possible part of "Blade" could be as well. If recordings of either hero exist, it could explain Taskmaster's own skill with a blade.

Who were Natasha's real parents?

We get teased with the possibility of learning about Natasha's birth parents toward the end of "Black Widow." Dreykov (Ray Winstone) acts as if he's going to give Nat her mother's name, then cruelly says only that her headstone read "Unknown." 

Shortly before her death in "Endgame," Nat gets the tiniest of crumbs from the Red Skull. He calls her "Natasha, daughter of Ivan," and moments later we learn that — until the name came out of the Skull's mouth — Nat didn't know so much as his first name, much less his last.

All she's able to learn from Melina (Rachel Weisz) is that the story she was told about her mother abandoning her was a lie. Sadly, with Nat dying in "Endgame," it seems unlikely we'll ever learn anything about her birth parents. Since Yelena appears set to continue to be a part of the MCU going forward, it could be that she'll investigate further, but we'd assume she'd be much more interested in learning about her own origins. 

In what ways have Dreykov's Black Widows changed the world?

We don't actually see much of Dreykov before the end of the film, but if one thing is clear, the guy likes to brag. With what he thinks is a helpless Natasha, Dreykov opens up about his global network of mind-controlled Widows and the kind of power they give him. The scene feels a lot like the A.I. Zola bringing Steve and Nat up to speed on HYDRA and Bucky in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," but with one exception — we never get any solid idea of exactly what the Widows have done. 

Dreykov gives some very broad strokes about what he can do with the Widows. He makes the kind of boasts you'd expect — that with them he can topple governments, he can destroy economies, etc. And it's clear that, yes, for a while now, the emissaries of the Red Room have spilled plenty of blood. But we never learn exactly what kind of power moves Dreykov has made with the Widows. Has he toppled governments? Has he destroyed economies? Exactly how does the world of the MCU look different because of what he's made his Widows do?

It's possible the coming years could reveal more about this. Certain movies like "Eternals" and "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" promise to look at the MCU's Earth on a broader scale. And with a new "Fantastic Four" on the way, Doctor Doom — Marvel's greatest tyrant — can't be far behind.

Did Black Widow permanently lose her sense of smell?

At first when Nat confronts Dreykov, it appears that she's helpless. It turns out all the Widows, including Nat, have been conditioned to be unable to directly attack Dreykov while in range of his pheromones. Nat pretends to be surprised by this, but we learn she and Melina worked it out earlier. Melina tells her she will need to completely sever a nerve connected to her olfactory system — essentially losing her sense of smell to bypass Dreykov's pheromones. Nat tries to get Dreykov to do it himself by provoking him into beating her, but when he can't finish the job, she does it for him.

So does this mean Nat is completely without her sense of smell for the rest of her life? She painfully resets her broken nose after Dreykov escapes, but severing a nerve sounds fairly, well, permanent. It doesn't sound like something that could be corrected by resetting a broken nose.

What happens between Black Widow and Ross?

At the end of "Black Widow," Ross and his UN forces arrive amid the wreckage. Nat warns the Widows and her adoptive family away, saying she'll "hold them off." After they leave, we get a heroic profile shot of Nat waiting for Ross and his forces to arrive, but we never see what happens. We flash forward to two weeks later, to Nat meeting Mason who has a quinjet waiting for her. She's already changed her hair color and she references springing friends from prison, implying she's there at the end of "Civil War" to free Scott, Sam, and Clint from the Raft.

But what happens between Nat and Ross? One possibility is that she does "hold them off" and escapes herself, presumably capturing one of the cars we see racing toward her. Considering all the action that unfolds before the unseen Widow/Ross confrontation, it could be that the filmmakers felt one more fight would be anticlimactic and chose to let it live offscreen — trusting we all know Nat can easily handle herself.

Another possibility is that — considering what she'd just accomplished — Nat was able to work out some kind of temporary truce with Ross. This seems the least likely option, however. In his later years, Ross is clearly even less capable of compromise than he is in 2008's "Incredible Hulk." We're guessing whatever happened between Ross and Nat, it involved plenty of punching, and it didn't end well for ol' "Thunderbolt.

What's Nat's found family doing now?

By the end of "Black Widow," all of the surviving Widows are freed from Dreykov's control — at least, all of the Widows present during the final battle. Before leaving Dreykov's office, Nat downloads the data about other Widows across the globe, and she hands it off to Yelena. Alexei, Melina, and Yelena leave with all the Widows, including Taskmaster.

So, what are the Widows and the rest of Nat's found family doing now? In most likelihood they spent some time locating and liberating the rest of Dreykov's Widows, but the present day MCU is set in 2023, seven or so years after "Black Widow." 

We know from the post-credits scene that Yelena is working for Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Val seems like she would certainly love to get the rest of the Widows on her payroll, but that doesn't mean the Widows would feel the same. Perhaps some went to work for Val, some became freelancers, and maybe others did their best to build "normal" lives. 

Then there's the question of what happened to Alexei and Melina. They clearly still share a mutual attraction, so there's a decent chance they're a couple. As for what else they're up to — considering their former employers, they probably don't have a ton of moral scruples regarding who they do and don't work for. They might have found a place working for Val as well.

Why does Valentina want Hawkeye dead?

For fans of Marvel's trademark post-credits scenes, "Black Widow" doesn't disappoint. After the credits, we jump forward in time to find Yelena tending to Natasha's grave, and soon, she's joined by Val, who we were introduced to in Disney+'s "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier." From their exchange, it's clear Yelena has been working for Val for a while, and the latter has come to give Yelena her next target, who she refers to as "the man responsible for your sister's death," i.e. Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner). 

Anyone who's seen "Avengers: Endgame" knows saying Barton is responsible for Natasha's demise is a pretty limited, and obviously manipulative, interpretation of Natasha's sacrifice. Regardless, what's most intriguing here is the question of why Val wants Hawkeye dead. 

Without knowing more about Val and her agenda, the most obvious answer is that it has something to do with Barton's vigilante activities as Ronin in the years between the events of "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Endgame." It could be that the government now sees him as a wild card and wants him taken out quietly, or it could be that the carnage he caused in the global crime community made the wrong people angry. It seems likely we'll have to wait until the release of Disney+'s "Hawkeye" to know for sure.

Is Black Widow setting up a Thunderbolts project?

For fans hoping that the MCU is building its own big-screen Thunderbolts – a Marvel Comics team comprised of mostly either reformed villains or heroes with criminal pasts — the post-credits scene of "Black Widow" offers some promising teases. 

The very fact that Val appears in the scene is a hint. She's introduced in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," a series which had long been rumored to build the foundation for the Thunderbolts' entry into the MCU. Along with featuring Bucky and Zemo — both of whom have fronted their own versions of the Thunderbolts in the comics — the series sees John Walker recruited by Val, and considering Walker's actions in the series, he certainly rates as a guy who could use some redemption.

Val's meeting with Yelena can only add more fuel to the speculation. Not only would an assassin like Yelena be a perfect fit for an MCU Thunderbolts, but she's tasked with taking out Hawkeye, yet another character who leads his own Thunderbolts team in the comics. We'll have to wait and see, obviously, but the more Val shows up, the more likely it seems she's planting seeds for a team that isn't quite as clean-cut as the Avengers.