Natalia "Natasha" Romanoff is a renowned spy and gifted assassin. Receiving extensive training at the notorious Russian Red Room facility at a young age, as well as a few super enhancements and a bit of brainwashing, she quickly became their top student and a dreaded threat to her country's enemies – including the Avengers – earning her the frightful nickname "Black Widow."
Despite her initial status as a villain, Nicky Fury eventually recruited her as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Ranking highly among their top agents and earning a coveted spot fighting alongside the Avengers, she's a formidable threat to villains across the globe, superpowers or no superpowers. She's certainly battled and bested her fair share of them. Here are 10 formidable foes that she's defeated over the years.
10 Damon Dran
A businessman obsessed with his own mortality, Damon Dran didn't become a threat until he exposed himself to one of Project 4's power sources in the pursuit of eternal life. Becoming the Indestructible Man, he proved to be one of Natasha's most tenacious foes.
His invulnerability makes him difficult to defeat, and coupled with his unpredictable and dangerous nature, he's proven to be ruthless in his methods to beat Natasha, going so far as to send countless mercenaries after her. Fortunately, Black Widow was able to stop Damon with Daredevil's help, stripping him of his powers and turning him over to S.H.I.E.L.D.
Graduate of the Taskmaster Academy and one of Damon Dran's assassins, Snapdragon first confronted Natasha in Japan. A skilled combatant, her extraordinary fighting skills are enhanced by her reinforced suit of armor. Gathering a varied arsenal of weapons over the years, she has mastered the use of numerous tools, including a Bo staff and a bola.
Her ruthlessness makes her a fearsome fighter, defeating Black Widow during their first encounter, proving you don't need any superpowers to stand toe-to-toe with Marvel's toughest agent. While Natasha has defeated Snapdragon in subsequent battles, she keeps returning from the dead, suggesting their feud might not be over yet.
8 Red Guardian
Defeating an old ally is tough, but is made all the harder when that ally is also an ex-spouse. In a twisted web of conspiracies and cover-ups, Natasha believed her husband Alexi Shostakov to be dead, while he was really undergoing training to become a counterpart to Captain America.
A top-class athlete, Alexi honed his unarmed combat skills. The training made him cruel, and he eventually became a regular thorn in the Avengers' side. Not only was he a powerful fighter, he manipulated Natasha's emotions to try and gain the upper hand in battle. Sadly for him, making the fight personal only pushed Natasha to strike back harder and stop him, with the support of her Avengers teammates. We may well see their fraught relationship on the big screen as David Harbour dons the Red Guardian mantle in the upcoming Black Widow movie.
A mutant whose powers were unleashed through sheer hatred, Mandrill has the incredible strength of the real primate. Combined with his superhuman speed and stamina, his freestyle fighting technique has made him a troublesome villain for many of Marvel's superheroes.
Female heroes are more at risk of falling under Mandrill's foul play, however, as he can use his pheromones to control the minds of human women, once going so far as to create an entire female army to try and take over the U.S. Black Widow has fallen "in love" with the mutant once, but her strong willpower has allowed her to overcome his pheromone charms and stop Mandrill on numerous occasions.
An agent skilled in cunning criminal strategy and stealth, Viper (sometimes known as Madame Hydra) is an expert spy who knows how to effectively use her influence to her advantage. Having been trained in different styles of martial arts with a flair for using a bullwhip in battle, she can put up a fight amongst Marvel's toughest, making her Hydra's counterpart of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s own Black Widow. What often gives Viper the edge is her penchant for creating her own poisons.
Being so closely matched, Viper and Black Widow's fights are always nail-bitingly close. In the end, Black Widow always relies on her wits and strategy to stop the Hydra fanatic.
5 The Prophet
The Prophet is the leader of Chaos, a criminal organization with "good intentions" for mankind, but secretly involved in funding armies and laundering trillions of dollars. Claiming to have knowledge of the future, bestowed upon him by a mysterious entity, The Prophet believed these criminal activities were working toward a utopian future. However, when one of his agents infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., he soon found Black Widow standing in his way.
The Prophet came close to defeating Natasha, using his teleportation powers to abduct her and his army of invisible agents to attack her. With quick wits and a flare gun, she was finally able to stop him once and for all in one of her most brutal kills.
4 Ivan Petrovich
Natasha and Ivan have a long history together. Rescuing young Natasha during World War II, he quickly adopted the father figure role, eventually enrolling her in the Black Widow Ops program and becoming her handler. He supported her through many of her early missions as she fought alongside the Winter Soldier, Daredevil, and the Champions, but eventually disappeared after Natasha rejected his romantic advances.
He resurfaced years later, now unhinged and dangerous, transforming himself into a dangerous cyborg set on destroying the world. In order to stop his apocalyptic future, Black Widow was forced to kill him.
One of the most devastating and terrifying villains Black Widow has ever encountered, Rose was a serial killer. A mutant gifted with telepathic powers, Rose used mind control to force her victims to commit suicide. Triggered by her mother's stark belief that she wasn't special, Rose was determined to kill all other telepaths. Her kill count reached over 40 before Black Widow tracked her down.
Powerful telepathy combined with Rose's formidable combat skills led to Natasha falling under her control. With the help of Daredevil, Natasha was finally able to break free of Rose's influence, stabbing the troubled young mutant to put an end to her murderous rampage.
2 Yelena Belova
Natasha and Yelena have a very complicated relationship. Both received training from the Red Room, but Yelena's jealousy of Natasha's legacy drove her to work harder and surpass her rival. Training extensively in espionage and various forms of combat, she eventually boasted that her physical test scores outdid Natasha's. Driven by her desire to beat Natasha, Yelena often volunteered for missions she knew would pit the pair against each other.
Natasha has tried hard to shatter Yelena's illusion of the Black Widow Ops program, leading the pair to have a rocky relationship filled with mistrust.
1 Iron Maiden
One of Natasha's most notorious foes, Iron Maiden was the only one of Damon Dran's hired assassins that Black Widow couldn't defeat on her own. An ex-black-ops agent, Iron Maiden became frustrated by constantly being overshadowed by Black Widow's legacy. Turning to a freelance career in crime, she honed her training to become a ruthless assassin and fighter.
It's Iron Maiden's literal tough exterior that makes her such a formidable villain for Black Widow to take down. Wearing a flexible metal costume, Iron Maiden is protected from most forms of attack, and is super strong herself. Going up against Natasha's fearsome fighting, the pair are often evenly matched. We can't wait to see how their rivalry plays out as Rachel Weisz steps into the role in Black Widow.