Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

How The Freed Black Widows Could Affect The MCU

Contains spoilers for "Black Widow."

Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) isn't the only Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe anymore. 2021's "Black Widow" throws the doors wide open for a plethora of possibilities: After learning the truth about the Red Room and the survival of its overseer, Dreykov (Ray Winstone), Natasha returns to confront her past, freeing thousands of women from Dreykov's mind control and destroying the Red Room for good. Not only are Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and Melina Vostokoff, aka Iron Maiden (Rachel Weisz), introduced in the "Infinity War" prequel, but "Black Widow" brings untold numbers of recruits from the Red Room to the table for future MCU projects.

What will Marvel do with them? There is endless potential for the Black Widows. Yelena will likely pick up Natasha's mantle as THE Black Widow after the events of "Avengers: Endgame." But there are scores of women with equal training and skill, revealed to be all over the planet and embedded as sleeper spies by Dreykov. Now that Dreykov is dead, it's time for these women to step out of the shadows and tell their own stories.

"Black Widow" is a more contained adventure than other MCU installments, though it still manages to broaden the universe's scope by introducing plenty of new characters for Marvel to work with. How can the freed Black Widows play a part? Here's how.

New allies for the Avengers

The most obvious outcome for the newly-freed Black Widows? Joining the Avengers. As of "Endgame," the Avengers are spread pretty thin. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Natasha Romanoff gave their lives to save half the universe, a retired Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) passed the mantle of Captain America to Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) left Earth to travel through space with the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Avengers need more members. Thanks to Natasha, there are plenty of prospective Black Widows to fill those vacancies.

For the first time, the Black Widows have agency and control over their lives. Seeing as Natasha freed them from the Red Room, it makes sense that some might want to repay her by continuing her work with the Avengers. An army of super-skilled spies could make all the difference should another Thanos-like villain set their sights on conquering the Earth.

New enemies for the Avengers

Just because Natasha freed them from the Red Room doesn't mean that every Black Widow will want to turn their back on their villainous roots. The Black Widows could have been psychologically conditioned to view the Avengers as enemies. Dreykov's mind control is broken at the end of "Black Widow," and the women all have their free will again, but that doesn't necessarily equate to becoming a superhero.

It is just as likely that the Black Widows could become enemies for the Avengers instead of allies. Some might blame the US-based super team for the tragic events in their lives and want to settle the score. Others might attack the Avengers for business reasons instead of personal motives. Now that the Red Room is gone, the Black Widows could make a living as assassins. A more nefarious character could potentially hire one of the Widows to take out the Avengers, or even destabilize them by infiltrating the team.

At least one of the newly-freed Black Widows could have bad blood with Earth's Mightiest Heroes. The post-credits scene for "Black Widow" sees Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) set Yelena Belova on a warpath against Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye (Clint Barton), after blaming the archer for Natasha's death. Another Black Widow could similarly be manipulated into going after the remaining Avengers, establishing a new enemy for the superheroes.

Black Widows vs. Dora Milaje

The Marvel Cinematic Universe now has two armies of badass female warriors. The Dora Milaje are introduced in 2018's "Black Panther," led by General Okoye (Danai Gurira). Ayo (Florence Kasumba), another member of the Dora Milaje first seen in "Captain America: Civil War," appears in "The Falcon And The Winter Soldier," where she and her fellow Dora easily defeat John Walker and Lamar Hoskins during a skirmish.

Sam Wilson says it best: "You might wanna fight Bucky before you tangle with the Dora Milaje." Ayo and her fellow Wakandan warriors don't just beat the wannabe-Captain America; they embarrass him. Walker laments that they "weren't even super soldiers" after being defeated by the Doras. To quote Sam again: "He's out of line, but he's right." The Dora Milaje aren't enhanced by super soldier serum or the heart-shaped herb — they're just that good.

In many ways, the Black Widows mirror the Dora Milaje. Neither group are super soldiers, yet they're still arguably the best combatants Earth can boast. The Dora choose to fight for Wakanda, whereas the Black Widows were forced to fight by Dreykov. A future MCU project could see the Doras come to blows with the Widows, all while trying to free the Red Room recruits from the last of Dreykov's influence.

Marvel's equivalent to DC's Amazons

Another possibility for the freed Black Widows is to build their own civilization, like the DC Extended Universe's Amazons. "Wonder Woman" introduces viewers to the all-female, all-elite warriors of Themyscira. Zack Snyder's "Justice League" develops the Amazons further; they are fierce, formidable fighters willing to sacrifice themselves to stop Steppenwolf from retrieving the Mother Box and summoning Darkseid to Earth. Marvel could go in a similar direction with the Black Widows now that the Red Room has been destroyed for good.

The Amazons, while heroic and brave, represent a neutrality that suits the Widows well. Diana (Gal Gadot) leaves Themyscira to be a full-fledged hero, but the other Amazons refuse to interfere in "man's world," having been subjugated by mankind thousands of years prior. The Black Widows could embody this neutral attitude in the MCU. Their traumatic experiences with Dreykov may have left them too disillusioned to be Avengers — but that doesn't mean there is no place for them in the MCU.

A Black Widow sequel

"Black Widow" has become a box office hit. The best way for Marvel Studios to capitalize on this is to release a sequel. "Black Widow 2" would be missing its main star, Natasha Romanoff, but there are other characters who could continue her legacy. Yelena remains the most likely candidate as Natasha's adopted sister and successor. However, the other Widows could still play a big part in a "Black Widow" sequel.

"Black Widow 2" could see Yelena working with her fellow Black Widows, recruiting them for another MCU escapade. Or maybe Yelena has to fight the Widows, who have been compromised by manipulation or mind control. Either way, a sequel to the 2021 MCU flick should definitely continue the Widows' stories now that they are free from Dreykov and the Red Room. Omitting the Red Room recruits from a potential sequel would be a waste of the Widows.

Some could be Skrulls

2019's "Captain Marvel" introduces MCU fans to the Skrulls, a race of shape-shifting aliens famous in the comics for the "Secret Invasion" storyline. "Captain Marvel" initially sets up the Skrulls as villains, before revealing that the Kree are the real bad guys and the Skrulls are just looking for a new home. The Skrulls show up again in "Spider-Man: Far From Home," where Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is revealed to be Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) from "Captain Marvel," as well as "WandaVision," with a Skrull asking Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) if she wants to join the real Nick Fury up in space.

So far, the Skrulls have been portrayed as good guys in the MCU. That seems likely to change. The upcoming Disney+ series, "Secret Invasion," will likely see the Skrulls causing all kinds of mayhem by pretending to be various well-known Marvel characters. This derives from the "Secret Invasion" comic miniseries, where the Skrulls use their shapeshifting abilities to lead a subtle invasion of Earth.

The Skrulls could be anywhere in the MCU currently — including the Black Widow program. Any of those Widows could secretly be a Skrull, working to gain intel on dangerous organizations to slowly destabilize the planet.

Future S.H.I.E.L.D. or S.W.O.R.D. agents

The freed Black Widows could follow Natasha Romanoff's footsteps by defecting to S.H.I.E.L.D. Admittedly, S.H.I.E.L.D. is non-existent in the MCU at the moment. The counter-terrorism organization, founded by Peggy Carter, plays a vital role in Phase 1 of the MCU. When S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury brings Earth's Mightiest Heroes together in "The Avengers," it is Agent Phil Coulson's death that truly motivates them to work together to bring down Loki.

S.H.I.E.L.D. implodes during "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" when Captain America and Natasha discover that Hydra has been secretly operating from within S.H.I.E.L.D. since its inception. The organization is rebuilt by a resurrected Coulson in "Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D." But Marvel chief creative officer Kevin Feige has confirmed that the ABC series isn't canon. Does this mean fans will fans see a S.H.I.E.L.D. resurgence in the MCU anytime soon?

If S.H.I.E.L.D. does make a comeback, then the freed Black Widows could help fill the ranks. If not, then S.W.O.R.D. is always an option. "WandaVision" brings S.W.O.R.D. — the Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division — to the MCU, another organization founded by a prominent female character, Maria Rambeau from "Captain Marvel." A career with S.W.O.R.D. could be on the cards for the Black Widows. Who better to deal with sentient weapons than superspies formerly utilized as sentient weapons?

Recruited by the Mandarin

The upcoming 2021 Marvel film "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" will correct one of the MCU's biggest missteps. "Iron Man 3" presented a controversial version of the Mandarin that divided fans. The mysterious villain, an iconic nemesis for Tony Stark in the comics, is revealed to be an actor called Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley) in a comedic scene many fans found unamusing, with real bad guy Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) pulling the strings in the background.

"Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" presents a more comics-accurate incarnation of the character. Played by Tony Leung, the Mandarin, aka Wenwu, is Shang-Chi's father and the leader of the Ten Rings organization. A skilled fighter and scientist, the Mandarin's influence extends worldwide. He could recruit some of the newly-freed Black Widows for the Ten Rings if he is not defeated at the end of "Shang-Chi."

This would be a nod to the comics; both Black Widow and the Mandarin debuted as antagonists for Iron Man. If the Mandarin isn't interested or available, then Sharon Carter, aka the Power Broker from "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," could always approach the Widows instead, especially if they decide to visit Madripoor in the future.

Secret Avengers

A more heroic story for the freed Black Widows would be to have them form an Avengers-like group of their own. Marvel insinuates that Natasha does something similar with the rest of Team Cap before the events of "Avengers: Infinity War." The OG Black Widow dyes her hair blonde, Wanda dyes her red, and Steve grows a beard. In breach of the Sokovia Accords, the group goes incognito before answering Bruce's call in "Infinity War," likely getting up to some Secret Avenging while hiding from the government.

The Black Widows could do some Secret Avenging of their own in future MCU projects. Teaming up to fight evil from the shadows sounds like something the Widows would do. Trained for espionage, they work best secretly. Other characters like Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) work better as figureheads for the Avengers. The Black Widows operate better in disguise ... and could do so as Secret Avengers.

A partnership with Sam Wilson

If "The Falcon And The Winter Soldier" proves anything, it's that Sam Wilson is a great guy and the perfect Captain America. Sam isn't just a good soldier; he's a good person. He doesn't act first and think later, like would-be Captain America John Walker (Wyatt Russell). When he confronts Karli Morgenthau, leader of the Flag-Smashers, Sam tries to reason with her instead of acting with brute force. Back in 2014, "The Winter Soldier" introduced Sam as a counselor supporting other military veterans. He has all the qualities and qualifications to help one of the freed Widows if their paths cross.

Now that Sam will be front and center in "Captain America 4," the former Falcon needs a supporting cast of his own. A returning Widow, freed from the Red Room, could be a great addition that calls back to Natasha and Sam partnering with Steve in "The Winter Soldier." Aside from Steve (and maybe Bruce), Sam arguably knew Natasha better than anyone in the Avengers. Sam, motivated by honoring his friend's memory, could become a mentor to a new Black Widow.

Teaming up with Bucky Barnes

MCU fans never got to see the pairing of Bucky Barnes and Natasha Romanoff from the comics on the big screen. During Bucky's (Sebastian Stan) brainwashed rampage in "Civil War," Natasha whispers to him: "You could at least recognize me." This alludes to their history in the comics: the Winter Soldier trained Natasha and the other Black Widows in the Red Room. The two also shared a romantic history, one that could still feature — in some form — in the MCU.

"Civil War" establishes that Natasha knew Bucky. If the Winter Soldier did train Red Room recruits in between bouts of cryostasis, then it's likely that another of the freed Widows could recognize him. Instead of partnering with Sam Wilson, a Black Widow could reach out to Bucky Barnes, or cross paths with him as an enemy during a mission.

If "The Falcon And The Winter Soldier" gets a second season, then the main story could see Sam and Bucky teaming up and reaching out to the Red Room recruits who Natasha freed. "Black Widow" reveals that there are many Black Widows hiding across the world. One or more of them could make their way to Bucky, looking for partnership — or revenge.

More recruits for Val's team

If the post-credits scene in "Black Widow" is anything to go by, then Valentina has big plans that will shape the MCU's future. The Contessa shows up to set Yelena's sights on Hawkeye, confirming Yelena and Val are no strangers when it comes to working together. Val also recruits John Walker to her mysterious team (Thunderbolts?) in "The Falcon And The Winter Soldier." Could another freed Widow also find herself being approached by Val anytime soon?

Val seems to be building an Avengers-like team of her own. One Black Widow makes a great addition, but multiple Widows sound better for a team that is — seemingly — off the books. Regardless of the circumstances, it seems likely that the freed Black Widows have future stories to tell. Natasha Romanoff liberated thousands of women. Now they are free to make their own mark on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, whether it's working for the greater good or against it. For now, fans can hope they show up again soon.