Natasha Romanova, better known as Black Widow, is one of the deadliest women in the Marvel universe. Trained as an assassin by the Soviet Union and gifted with extended life, she started out as an enemy of Iron Man and became a hero who joined the Avengers. There have been more women named Black Widow but Natasha is who we all think of, especially with Scarlett Johansson playing her in the Avengers movies.
Natasha has tended to be shown as cool and calculating but also as someone who is passionate in her personal life. She’s been involved with many men, partly because she’s beautiful and has stayed young over her long life, but she’s never been very successful in long-term relationships. She’s been involved with superheroes, supervillains and spies as well as seemingly regular people. She’s been on brief flings that were all about physical needs, had more passionate affairs, gotten engaged and even been married. Other Black Widows in different realities and alternate versions have had more or less meaningful romances but have all had an impact. With Black Widow set to return in Avengers: Infinity War, let’s talk about 15 of Black Widow’s romances, why they began and why they ended.
In 1975, the first West Coast superhero team of the Marvel universe was formed in Champions #1 (Tony Isabella, Don Heck). Much like the East Coast-based Avengers, the Champions were a group of superheroes brought together by a threat and through necessity, stayed together (for a hot minute, anyway). Angel, Ghost Rider, Iceman, Black Widow and Hercules came together to fight Pluto and formed their own team to fight supervillains, but Black Widow and Hercules traded more than punches.
During the 1978 Avengers storyline known as the “The Korvac Saga,” Black Widow and Hercules were briefly a couple, but it didn’t last long. They continued to work together as teammates and friends, and both moved on to other more successful relationships but they still remember their romance fondly. As recently as 2010 in Hercules: Fall of an Avenger #1 (Greg Pak, Fred van Lente), Black Widow described Hercules as “hot.”
14. BRUCE BANNER
In the 2015 movie Avengers: Age of Ultron, the superhero team returned to fight the evil robot Ultron. While there were a lot of great moments, audiences were baffled by what seemed like an unexpected romance. Black Widow had a lot of options as the only woman on a team of five other men, but she didn’t choose the dashing Captain America or the charming Iron Man. No, she chose the awkward and potentially lethal Bruce Banner.
In the first movie, she seemed more scared of him and his transformation into the Hulk, but in the second film, she moved in on him boldly. It seems like she felt a kinship to him because of how hard it was for him to have a normal life, just like she struggled for normalcy. It was an unexpected but sweet pairing.
It seems like Black Widow and Spider-Man would be a perfect fit, what with their mutual love of spider-related gadgets, but they haven’t actually gotten together that much in the comics. Maybe that’s because Peter Parker is a more down-to-earth guy and Black Widow is a cold-blooded killer. however, there was a pretty serious moment between them way back in 1979’s Marvel Team-Up #82 (Chris Claremont, Sal Buscema)
When HYDRA tried to take over S.H.I.E.L.D., Black Widow was tortured until her mind switched to a cover identity of Nancy Rushman. She was found by Spider-Man and (as Rushman) fell for him hard, which left him torn. He was attracted to her but knew she wasn’t quite right. In the end, she restored her memory and admitted the real Black Widow wasn’t interested. He was disappointed, as we all would be.
12. THE SOLDIER
In the mainstream comic continuity, Captain America and Black Widow have never really been an item, but the 2008 movie Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow imagined a different future where Black Widow (called “the Spy”) and Captain America (referred to as “the Soldier”) formed the ultimate union.
In an alternate future, most of the Avengers have paired off and had children until they’re killed during a fight with Ultron, who succeeds in taking over the world. The Avengers leave their kids with Tony Stark, who hides and trains them in a secret Arctic facility. One of the children is James Rogers, the son of Black Widow and Captain America. James proves he’s inherited his heroism from his parents by joining with the other children to save the world.
11. NICK FURY
There’s been more than one woman named Black Widow in the comics, so it’s time to talk about Monica Chang. First appearing in 2009’s Ultimate Comics: Avengers #3 (Mark Millar, Carlos Pacheco), Chang became the second Black Widow in the alternate Ultimate Marvel universe. She led a mission to save Captain America and fought the Red Skull, helped recruit the Punisher and joined the New Ultimates.
In her past, Chang was the ex-wife of S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury who had a son together, Julius Chang. Their marriage ended because she found out Fury was cheating on her with friends and members of her family, including her own mother. She got the last laugh, though, because she became the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. instead of Nick Fury.
10. HANK PYM
In 1994, Malibu Comics created its own superhero comic known as Ultraforce, which was popular enough to get its own TV series, but that didn’t save Ultraforce from the contraction of the industry at the time and the whole line was purchased by Marvel. Marvel launched the crossover event known as “Black September” that merged the Malibu and Marvel universes into one, but there was a brief period when Ultraforce and the Avengers merged into a single pocket universe.
1995’s Ultraforce Avengers by Warren Ellis and George Perez introduced a different version of Janet Van Dyne who was originally known as the Wasp in continuity. In this universe, Van Dyne became the Wasp but the death of her husband Hank Pym led her to adopt the new identity of Black Widow to avenge him.
9. PHANTOM REPORTER
The first Black Widow in the Marvel Universe was created in 1940’s Mystic Comics #4, but she was revived in 2008 with The Twelve by J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston. Her real name was Clare Voyant, and she was given the power to kill with the touch of her hand to a head. She was taken by the Nazis and put into suspended animation but revived in the modern era along with other World War II-era heroes known as the Twelve.
Another one of the Twelve was Dick Jones, a college athlete and reporter who became the crime fighting Phantom Reporter. When he was revived, he developed feelings for Voyant, even after finding out she gained her powers in a deal with the devil. They were an amazing but dark pairing.
8. MICHAEL CORCORAN
Created by Ralph Macchio, George Perez, Soe Sinnott and Jack Abel, 1983’s Marvel Fanfare #11 introduced Michael Corcoran, a scientist from America who defected to the Soviet Union. Black Widow met her when she was trying to track down her partner Ivan Petrovich, and joined Corcoran’s project as another American scientist named Laura Matthers. The two of them worked on a secret project and she fell in love with him.
After trying to find out what they were working on and where Petrovich was being held, she was caught and the KGB revealed it had all been a plot. They knew who she was the whole time and brought her into a trap. With his role in the affair concluded, the Soviets killed Corcoran who died in the Black Widow’s arms.
7. COUNT OTTO VON DOOM
In 2004, Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert created Marvel 1602, a miniseries about an alternate world where the Marvel universe came into existence during the Elizabethan Era. Different versions of Marvel superheroes and supervillains existed with roles in the New World and the English court, and that included Black Widow. In 1602, Natasha was a secret agent working for the Queen through Sir Nicholas Fury.
She was hired in Marvel 1602 #2 to help 1602’s Daredevil Matthew Murdoch to protect the treasure of the Knights Templars. However, she ended up betraying Murdoch because she was secretly in love with Count Otto Von Doom, tyrant and ruler of Latveria. When Doom was disfigured by lightning, it was Natasha who ended up helping him. Unfortunately, Doom later killed her for questioning his plans. Not her most successful relationship.
6. DEPUTY BARNES
In 2015, a planet was created during the Secret Wars event where Dr. Doom assembled different worlds of the multiverse into one called Battleworld. One world was an alternate reality that brought the Marvel universe to the Old West, and it became the center of 1872 by Gerry Duggan and Nik Virella.
In the miniseries, the Marvel universe was transplanted to the American West with different characters as Western archetypes. In 1872 #3, Black Widow showed up there as Natasha Barnes the widow of Deputy Barnes, an alternate version of Bucky Barnes. Deputy Barnes was the partner of Sheriff Steve Rogers (Captain America) who was supposedly killed by Cheyenne. It turned out that Deputy Barnes had been killed while trying to stop the lynching of a Native American named Red Wolf.
5. RED GUARDIAN
When it comes to Black Widow, she really is a widow, but not through any fault of her own. In 1967’s Avengers #47 (John Buscema, Roy Thomas), the Soviet Union debuted its version of Captain America, Red Guardian. His real name was Alexei Shostakov, and he turned out to have a surprising connection to Black Widow.
Shostakov had been a celebrated test pilot when the KGB had arranged for him to marry Natasha Romanova, at the time known only as a famous ballerina. When the KGB decided they wanted Romanoff to become a secret agent, they faked her husband’s death to drive her into their Red Room program. Shostakov returned later on as a Life Model Decoy, then as the supervillain Ronin. Though he turned out to be a very different man than she thought, Natasha still loved him.
4. IRON MAN
When it comes to Black Widow and romance, we have to talk about Tony Stark, who was literally with her from the very beginning. 1964’s Tales of Suspense #52 (Stan Lee, Don Heck, N. Korok) was her first appearance in comics as a seductive Russian ballerina who seduced Tony Stark while secretly working as a spy for the Soviet Union before he found out her true identity.
In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Natasha had a much closer relationship with Stark, going as far as getting engaged with the billionaire genius. Unfortunately, it turned out that Black Widow had been manipulating the Avengers and arranging to destroy them in revenge for the fall of the Soviet Union. Even after she was killed, a sex tape of her and Stark was released on the Internet, hurting him from beyond the grave.
3. BUCKY BARNES
For a long time, no one knew about Bucky Barnes’ relationship with Black Widow, mainly because no one knew he was still alive. Bucky was originally Captain America’s kid sidekick, first introduced in Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s Captain America Comics #1. Bucky was killed during World War II and never returned when Captain America was brought back in the 1960s. He was discovered in 2005 as an assassin codenamed Winter Soldier who had been brainwashed by the Soviet Union.
With his history with the Russian government, it kind of made sense to link him with Black Widow, which is what happened in 2007 with Captain America #27 (Ed Brubaker, Steven Epting). In that issue, it was revealed that Black Widow had a brief relationship with Bucky during their days in the Soviet Union.
When it comes to relationships, there’s only one person who’s captured her heart more than our number one spot, and that’s Clint Barton. Better known as Hawkeye, Barton started out as a villain who fell in love with Black Widow in 1964’s Tales of Suspense #57 (Don Heck, Stan Lee). The two of them worked together to steal Tony Stark’s technology until she began to fall for Hawkeye, too.
When the KGB tried to kill her, Hawkeye decided to quit the supervillain game and stay on the side of good. The two of them continued to work together as members of the Avengers and their mutual attraction to each other has continued to come up, even though they’ve stayed on the professional side of things. Even in the first Avengers movie, we saw hints of their relationship.
When it comes to Black Widow’s heart, there’s only been one who truly captured it and that’s Daredevil. Starting in 1971’s Daredevil #81 (Gerry Conway, Gene Colan), Black Widow began working with the blind superhero and pretty soon the two fell in love. Matt Murdock even broke up with his longtime love interest Karen Page for her. Unfortunately, their relationship fell apart as she felt more like a sidekick than a true superhero (or lover).
She briefly lost her memory and returned to Murdock, only to find out he was with another woman. Natasha came back into Daredevil’s life when he tried to kill a baby he thought was the Anti-Christ. She revealed she still loved him, even though he seemed unable to commit to her. The two of them are the definition of star-crossed lovers.
What’s Black Widow’s greatest romance? Any that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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