Scarlett Johansson’s superhero Black Widow has been part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe from early on, and here’s a complete timeline of her MCU story. Audiences first met the former Russian spy Natasha Romanoff in 2010 when Johansson appeared as Black Widow in Iron Man 2. Despite not having a standalone movie until 2021, Black Widow became a fan-favorite recurring character and one of the most prominent characters in the entire MCU.
Black Widow’s story in the MCU began as a covert agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and then saw her become an original member of the Avengers, go on the run multiple times, and finally concluded in Avengers: Endgame after she became the leader of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and then sacrificed herself to save the universe. All of this happened as Johansson appeared in seven MCU movies, with her eighth and final appearance coming in the long-awaited Black Widow solo film. Through her ongoing roles, the MCU fleshed out several parts of her backstory and days as a superhero, even if she didn’t get the screentime of Captain America, Iron Man, or Thor, who each received their own solo movie trilogies (and more in Thor’s case).
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Most fans have long had the desire to see more of Black Widow’s MCU story, and Black Widow meets that criteria by filling in the two-year gap between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. The solo film will put Natasha Romanoff in the spotlight like never before and reveal much more about her life, even before becoming an Avenger. However, the MCU has revealed more about Black Widow’s life than some might realize thanks to exposition dialogue, flashbacks, and her actual movie appearances. Here’s Black Widow’s complete MCU timeline explained.
Natasha’s Red Room Training
Several years after Natasha was born in 1984, she was recruited by the KGB as a young girl to join the Red Room Academy. This is where the orphan started down the path to becoming one of Russia’s best spies. This is where she met Dreykov, who is the leader of the Red Room. The Red Room trained her in the art of espionage and taught her all the necessary skills so she could become a useful tool in the years to come.
Black Widow’s Family Is Broken
In one of Natasha’s earliest assignments as a member of the Red Room, she was grouped with other spies to form an undercover Russian family posing as Americans. This included Alexei Shostakov, a.k.a. Red Guardian (David Harbour), as her father, Melina Vostokoff, a.k.a. the Iron Maiden (Rachel Weisz), as her mother, and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) as her younger sister. However, the mission resulted in the family being split apart and fracturing the relationship formed between them.
Natasha Graduates From The Red Room
Natasha’s training in the Red Room continued and saw her rise further through the ranks to become the top spy in the system. She was an expert marksman and was forced to kill an innocent man as part of the Black Widow program graduation ceremony. This also included the Red Room sterilizing her to avoid any potential distractions for her down the road. Natasha earned the title of Black Widow at this time and began making a name for herself due to her particular set of skills. During this time, she got plenty of red on her ledger, including what happened to Dreykov’s daughter, a hospital fire, and more.
Black Widow Joins S.H.I.E.L.D.
As Black Widow’s reputation rose, she quickly became someone Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. kept an eye on. Fury eventually deemed her a threat to national security and sent Clint Barton aka Hawkeye to kill her. However, Barton made a different call and recruited Natasha to change her life and come work for S.H.I.E.L.D. instead. She accepted this invitation and began working with S.H.I.E.L.D., where she became a close confidant of Fury and developed a close friendship with Hawkeye.
During Natasha’s years as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, she and Hawkeye went on many missions together. The most infamous of them is their trip to Budapest. The MCU has kept details about the mission to a minimum. Still, it seemingly involved a lot of action and a dire situation based on Natasha’s comment in The Avengers that the Battle of New York reminded her of what happened to her and Hawkeye in Budapest. The truth will be revealed during Black Widow in some fashion.
Natasha’s Undercover Work
Throughout her years as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Natasha built up an impressive résumé to help with her undercover work. She modeled as “Natalie Rushman” from 2004 to 2007. Natasha also received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in history by the end of 2007. She went on to attend Harvard University, too, and become an intern at Hammer Industries. This was shortly before she eventually worked to stop Justin Hammer’s plans in Iron Man 2.
Winter Soldier Attacks Black Widow
Another one of Natasha’s missions in 2009 brought her face-to-face with the Winter Soldier. S.H.I.E.L.D. assigned her to protect a nuclear scientist during a global trip. Natasha and the scientist made it from Iran to Ukraine before Hydra’s super-soldier assassin intercepted them. They were run off a cliff, but Natasha saved them both. The Winter Soldier was still in pursuit, though, and killed the scientist by shooting Black Widow through the abdomen. She attempted to hunt down the Winter Soldier but was unable to track him down.
Iron Man 2
Black Widow’s story on-screen began in Iron Man 2. The movie is set in 2010 based on in-movie evidence, but the Marvel tie-in comic Fury’s Big Week places it in 2011. Regardless of the specific year that the movie takes place in, it doesn’t impact Iron Man 2‘s events in Black Widow’s overall story. The movie shows her work as an undercover agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. when Fury assigns her to keep an eye on Tony Stark. Natasha was tasked with watching over Stark after selling his company to Pepper Potts and secretly assessing whether or not he would be a fit for the Avengers Initiative. She worked for Stark Industries in secret for an unspecified amount of time before revealing herself to be the Black Widow to Tony Stark. Natasha remained undercover at Stark after this incident and eventually pursued Ivan Vanko. Black Widow was responsible for hacking Vanko’s coding to give Rhodey control of the War Machine armor again. She also ultimately recommends that Iron Man is a fit for the Avengers Initiative, but Tony Stark is not.
Black Widow’s Other Missions
Between her live-action appearances in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, Marvel tie-in comics revealed Black Widow went on several missions for S.H.I.E.L.D. This included visiting Culver University and witnessing Bruce Banner turning into Hulk against Emil Blonsky and Thunderbolt Ross’ army before eventually seeing Hulk and Abomination’s clash in Harlem from a distance. She also went on a mission to Russia to search for stolen Stark Industries weapons. This eventually led Natasha to weapons dealer Georgi Luchkov.
Black Widow’s second MCU appearance in The Avengers brings her story up to 2012 when she is in the middle of an interrogation with Luchkov. She is called into action by S.H.I.E.L.D. after Loki takes the Tesseract and begins mind-controlling Hawkeye. Coulson tasks Natasha with bringing in the “big guy,” which she thinks is Stark initially before it is clarified this means Hulk. Black Widow travels to India to persuade Bruce Banner to help S.H.I.E.L.D. track down the Tesseract due to his expertise with gamma radiation. Natasha becomes one of the original six members of the Avengers and plays a major role in the Battle of New York. This is her first known encounter with aliens, but Black Widow isn’t fazed in the slightest. It is she who ultimately shuts off the Tesseract portal device atop Stark Tower using Loki’s scepter.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
After the events of The Avengers, Black Widow’s story continues two years later during 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Natasha is still working for S.H.I.E.L.D. when the movie begins and has formed a close relationship with Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, who she is trying to set up on multiple dates. Black Widow goes with Captain America on the Lumerian Star mission, although she has a different objective given to her by Fury tied to Project Insight. Natasha then finds herself an enemy of S.H.I.E.L.D. after Hydra’s infiltration of the intelligence agency was revealed. She was also left out of the loop on Fury’s plan to fake his death since he wasn’t entirely sure if she could be trusted. Natasha ultimately used advanced technology to pose as one of the members of the World Security Council. This got her inside S.H.I.E.L.D.’s headquarters and resulted in her releasing all of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s and Hydra’s private information online. With her Russian spy past now public knowledge, there were momentary calls for her arrest. Natasha left the Congressional hearing before a final verdict was reached and gave Captain America a file on Winter Soldier before she went off the radar.
Rejoining The Avengers
After spending less than a year of staying off the radar, Natasha re-emerges to team up with the Avengers once again. The superhero team began traveling the world, taking down what remained of Hydra and searching for Loki’s scepter, which Hydra stole from S.H.I.E.L.D. prior to the organization’s collapse. It is unknown how long these missions lasted or how many Hydra bases the Avengers defeated. This was when Natasha and Bruce developed the lullaby method to calm him down when he was in Hulk form. However, they eventually receive intel in early 2015 on Baron von Strücker’s Hydra Research Base location that contains Loki’s scepter.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Black Widow’s fourth MCU appearance comes in Avengers: Age of Ultron, which is set in 2015 – a full year after she was last seen. After taking down Baron von Strücker and reclaiming Loki’s scepter, Natasha is surprised, like the rest of the Avengers, to learn that Tony and Bruce developed the Ultron A.I. using its power. She fought off some of the first Ultron bots and is rattled after Scarlet Witch’s nightmares. Black Widow and Hulk developed the start of a romance during this time, and she even proposed walking away from the superhero/spy life to be together. After she helped the Avengers steal the cradle containing what would become Vision, Black Widow was later kidnapped by Ultron. Luckily, Hawkeye managed to track her down using old-school spy communications and Bruce saved her. Black Widow then fought in the Battle of Sokovia and was prepared to die there if it meant saving the world. By the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Black Widow was the second-in-command of the new Avengers team led by Captain America.
Captain America: Civil War
Black Widow returns to the MCU one year later in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. She’s spent the last year helping lead the new Avengers team and teaching Wanda Maximoff some covert operations skills. The Avengers searched for Crossbones for months before finding him in Lagos, where he killed himself by blowing himself up and Scarlet Witch could not control the blast. This incident sparked the formation of the Sokovia Accords, and Natasha surprised many by siding with Tony Stark and supporting the document. Black Widow’s support of the Sokovia Accords brought her into conflict with Captain America, Hawkeye, and other close friends. However, she eventually turned against Team Iron Man to help Captain America and Bucky Barnes escape. This made her a fugitive and sent her on the run again.
Running From Secretary Ross
Black Widow’s decision to break the Sokovia Accords leads to Secretary “Thunderbolt” Ross hunting her down. The full scope of these events will be revealed in Black Widow, but the trailers show that he’s pursuing her as she flees to Europe. Black Widow will evade Ross’s capture in some fashion as it is during her time on the run that she reconnects with Captain America. It is unknown how this happens or when exactly they meet again between 2016 and 2018. But, Black Widow does become a member of Cap’s Secret Avengers team whenever it happens.
Avengers: Infinity War
Black Widow returned with a new look in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. As a wanted fugitive, Natasha has died her hair blonde and now wears a green-black tactical suit. She works with Captain America and Falcon to save Scarlet Witch and Vision from Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive. This brings her back to the new Avengers facility briefly, where Rhodey decides to welcome his former teammates back into the fold instead of following Ross’ orders to arrest them. She briefly reunites with Bruce Banner during this time before the Avengers head to Wakanda to try and save Vision and protect the Mind Stone in his head. Black Widow helps lead the defense of Wakanda and fights dozens of Outriders before Thanos arrives, collects the final Infinity Stone, and snaps half of all life across the universe out of existence. Black Widow is one of the few Avengers left alive.
Leading The Avengers
After Thor killed Thanos, the Avengers took on a new shape during the five years that passed. Black Widow becomes the leader of the Avengers during this time and mostly remains at Avengers HQ while Captain Marvel, Rocket, Nebula, War Machine, and Okoye go on missions she assigns. This when Natasha seemingly loses contact with Hawkeye and begins to learn about the mass murder spree being attributed to a mysterious figure known only as Ronin, which the Avengers suspect is a grieving, vengeful Clint.
The main part of Black Widow’s story in Avengers: Endgame comes during 2023 when she helps bring the Avengers back together after Ant-Man’s surprise return from the Quantum Realm. Natasha goes to find Clint herself and brings her close friend back to the Avengers with the hope that they can undo Thanos’ snap. Black Widow assists in running tests on the time travel equipment and is instrumental in planning the actual time-heist mission. She is the one who realizes that traveling to New York in 2012 gives the Avengers a chance to acquire the Time Stone, Mind Stone, and Space Stone. However, she is assigned to visit Vormir in 2014 with Hawkeye.
Black Widow’s Death
Black Widow’s MCU story came to an end in Avengers: Endgame. Upon arrival on Vormir, she and Clint learn that the Soul Stone will only be acquired by someone losing what they love. Natasha and Clint both argue for why they should be the one to die and the other to live. Although Hawkeye momentarily appears to gain the upper hand in combat to make the sacrifice play, Black Widow jumps in at the last second to save him. She then pushes herself off the Vormir cliff and out of Clint’s grasp. Black Widow’s death gave Hawkeye the Soul Stone and allowed the Avengers to undo Thanos’ snap, but her sacrifice for the Soul Stone is a permanent exchange as far as we know – even if Captain America returned it to Vormir.
MORE: Disney’s Black Widow Release Plan Continues Endgame’s Natasha Failure
- Black Widow (2021)Release date: Jul 09, 2021
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: Sep 03, 2021
- Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)Release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
- The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
- Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023
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