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The Black Widow References You Missed In Hawkeye Episode 4

Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) have been inextricably linked since we first saw them join forces in "Marvel's The Avengers" almost a decade ago. Since that first team-up, Marvel fans have learned just how deep the friendship between Clint and Natasha goes, with the pair's shared history of working together in the field going back years. In this year's "Black Widow," we learned that Natasha felt as though she owed Clint a debt because he spared her life, causing her to defect to S.H.I.E.L.D. and leading to their infamous Budapest mission. Knowing how integral Natasha and Clint were in one another's lives made Natasha's demise in "Avengers: Endgame" all the more tragic.

While Natasha may be gone from the franchise, "Hawkeye" is still respecting her contributions to the MCU and her impact on Clint's life. The new Disney+ series has no intention of letting Natasha go quietly. At the start of the season, Clint still struggles with the guilt that he feels over her sacrifice in the ending of "Avengers: Endgame." He is visibly shaken when he sees a fictional Natasha on stage in the decidedly chipper Steve Rogers musical he goes to see with his kids in the first episode. His connection with Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) is also reminiscent of the dynamic in a lot of ways. 

This week, some crucial moments in Episode 4, "Partners, Am I Right?", have brought Black Widow back to the forefront.

Yelena honors Black Widow's aesthetic

Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) made her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in the "Black Widow" feature film. Natasha's adopted sister is established as an equally deadly assassin with just a hint of more humor. Many questioned if she would be taking up her sister's mantle and what "Black Widow" meant for the future.

In "Hawkeye," Yelena returns after she is tasked with killing Clint, who she is made to believe is responsible for her sister's death by Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) in the "Black Widow" post-credits scene. In the climactic rooftop fight between Clint, Kate, Yelena, and Echo (Alaqua Cox), it's not until the final moments of Episode 4 that we see Yelena unmasked. Not only does she have the skills to go hand-to-hand with Clint and Kate, but also the look. We see she has plaited her hair in the single braid. Natasha sported the same French braid in "Avengers: Endgame" as well as "Black Widow."

Yelena is no stranger to braids herself, sometimes sporting an intricate updo of braids in the film. Her look in "Hawkeye" is much simpler and appears to be a reference to the original Black Widow. "Black Widow" demonstrated the bond between the two women as they were both abused by the same system. It appears she still honors her sister with this French braid hairstyle as a way of remembering her and their brief reunion.

Clint watches another partner fall

Kate and Natasha may not have a lot in common on the surface. Natasha was a brainwashed secret agent for Russia who was trained to kill at a young age. Kate also trained from a young age to become skilled in a variety of sports, including archery, although she had the support of her mother and her peers. Natasha preferred to carefully map out a situation, while Kate has proven she is more impulsive than she is careful. But both characters demonstrate sharp wit and hold a special place in Clint's heart. Though he has not fully processed Natasha's death, his relationship with Kate is, in a sense, helping him heal from the loss of his longtime field partner.

Things change in "Hawkeye" Episode 4 when Clint's old wounds are reopened as he deals with the tricky issue of allowing Kate to be his partner and what that might mean for her safety. During the rooftop fight, Kate falls over the edge of the building, but something on her suit catches the edge of the building, and she is left hanging. Once again, he has to see someone he cares about make a traumatic fall, even though he is choosing to cut Kate loose for her safety, versus unwillingly letting go of Nat's hand in a mission to restore half of the universe.