With Natasha Romanoff getting her very own film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, now is a good time to run through some little-known facts about Black Widow in Marvel Comics. For instance, did you know Natasha Romanoff was not the first character to use the "Black Widow" moniker in Marvel Comics? And that Natasha Romanoff isn't her real name? What about the fact she actually does have some superhuman abilities?
Black Widow's backstory encompasses a thousand comic book appearances and more than 50 years of publication history. Here are some things you may not know about the Red Room-trained superspy.
She Was A Founding Member Of The Champions Of Los Angeles
Marvel's current Champions lineup boasts popular modern heroes like Ms. Marvel, Mile Morales, and Riri Williams. And while Black Widow ended up leading the team during the events of the 2017 Secret Empire event, the team is a far cry from what it was during its original incarnation in 1975 as "The Champions of Los Angeles." That team was a mish-mash of Marvel characters consisting of Ghost Rider, Hercules, Black Widow, and X-Men heroes Angel and Iceman.
The team's series only lasted a scant 17 issues during the mid-1970s, but they have become a favorite of long-time Marvel fans due to their sheer weirdness. The characters never really meshed well together and constant changes in the creative team never gave the book a chance to find its footing.
The best little bit of trivia about the Champions is that they flew around in a Quinjet known as the "Champjet." Talk about a fantastic job naming your plane, guys!
She Has Perished More Than Once In Marvel Comics
Good news for all you MCU fans who found Black Widow's demise in Avengers: Endgame too much to bear: she's been dispatched twice in the pages of Marvel Comics and has come back both times! In two classic cases of comic book tomfoolery, Natasha Romanoff has been dramatically executed only to be revived shortly after because, well, it is hard to make money off a deceased character.
The first instance of this happening occurs in 1982's Daredevil #188, in which Romanoff expires on the final page after being poisoned during a fight with the Hand. Luckily for Matt Murdock and fans everywhere, Romanoff was magically revived at the beginning of Daredevil #189, so... yeah, all that pain and strife was for naught.
The more recent of Natasha's untimely ends was both a bigger deal in the context of Marvel Comics as a whole and more interesting due to her eventual revival at the hands of the Red Room. During the events of Secret Empire, Natasha tries to stop Miles Morales from taking the life of a reality-warped Hydra version of Captain America. Unfortunately for the Russian super-spy, this evil Cap snaps her neck with the point of his shield. This time, for a while at least, Natasha stayed deceased.
Romanoff Is Not The Only Black Widow In The Pages Of Modern Marvel Comics
The KGB trained dozens of women in the Black Widow program in the halls of the Red Room, so it makes sense that Natasha Romanoff would not be the only spy to take on the Black Widow name in the pages of Marvel Comics. Yelena Belova - a sometimes hero, sometimes villain - is the most well-known of these other Widows; she even headlined her own miniseries after being first introduced to readers in 1999's Inhumans #5.
Belova herself is set to become a bigger star on the world stage, as she's a main character in the Black Widow film, played by Florence Pugh. Scuttlebutt says Belova will be taking over as the Black Widow from Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff, and this rumor was given a lot of credence when the film's director, Cate Shortland, said the movie will "hand the baton" to Pugh's character.
She Has Been Married Twice
Knowing Romanoff is a heavily trained superhero, one would be surprised to learn she had time to get married not only once, but twice. Many Marvel fans will recall she was married to Alexi Shostakov when the pair were working for the KGB. Cruelly, the KGB faked his demise - sending Natasha into mourning - and began training him to become the Red Guardian. David Harbour plays a version of this character - who seems to be more of a father figure - in the Black Widow film.
The more obscure of Natasha's husbands was her first, mentioned in the pages of 2010's Black Widow #4. This man, known only as Nikolai, married Natasha when she was 16 years old. Nikolai was only 17 at the time and couldn't afford a ring, so he tied a piece of cloth around Natasha's finger. Describing the ceremony, Natasha explained, "There was no priest. Just us... saying we loved each other."
It is unclear how Nikolai perished, but it happened not long after the two became betrothed. Romanoff recalls their relationship fondly: "It was good we had each other, even for a short time."