If you enjoy this Wishlist by Danny B (and let’s face it, why wouldn’t you?) you can check out his similar articles for Captain Marvel and Black Panther!
We are on the cusp of a brand new age… The age of successful superhero films based on female characters. The success of female led franchises like The Hunger Games and the buzz around the female protagonists of Star Wars Episode VII and Rogue One are strong indicators that the audience is primed for greater female representation in superhero cinema.
Of course DC and Warner Bros look set to be first past the post with next year’s Wonder Woman but Kevin Feige seems keen to bridge the gap with the upcoming Captain Marvel (2019) and the confirmed commitment to a Black Widow movie.
In our recent commen-table track for Iron Man 3 we lamented that a potentially fascinating female villain was marginalised in favour of yet more white males but there’s evidence to suggest that the Marvel stable has diversity on its mind. We need only look at TV’s Jessica Jones’ incredible, progressive depiction of female characters, Wasp now getting double billing in The Ant-Man Sequel and the aforementioned cosmic alter-ego of Carol Danvers apparently being the ‘most powerful character in the MCU’.
For all this, by far the most fascinating female character in the MCU is currently Natalia Romanova A.K.A. The Black Widow.
She’s been a ballerina, a child soldier, a femme fatale, a villain, a hero, a spy, a leader and the list goes on.
Having been born prior to WWII comic book Natasha has a long life of many interesting twists and turns, with links and strong relationships with key players in the history of the Marvel Universe including Wolverine, Nick Fury, Daredevil, Captain America, Hawkeye & Winter Soldier.
However, she is more than often the physical & intellectual better of these male characters. She uses her duplicitous nature to her advantage at every turn against male and female alike.
With the best poker face in the world of espionage Ms Romanova is a compelling mystery who is no more above seduction than she is above torture and everyone in the Marvel Universe is just another chess piece in her ultimate endgame.
The high quality of her character and stories have led to an impressive set of supporting characters and villains that I would like to, nay demand to see in her first solo outing on celluloid and so here are just a choice few…
Boris Bullski a former associate of Natasha’s in the KGB who rose high in the ranks… until he displeased his superiors. In an effort to win back their favour he commissioned scientists who had assisted in the creation of The Original Crimson Dynamo’s armour to build him a suit composed of Titanium, in order to defeat the champion of the west Iron Man in a televised battle.
Even though it was larger and a stronger armour it was heavier and clunkier than Stark’s more sophisticated design. After this defeat he became obsessed with crushing Iron Man, even undergoing medical experiments to increase his size and strength.
Since then he has given heroes like Thor, The Avengers & The Winter Guard a continuing headache hoping to bring glory back to Mother Russia.
A great choice of villain and guilty pleasure of mine; I love villains who are a photo negative of our hero (e.g. Reverse-Flash).
Given his links to Natasha, his sheer intimidating bulk and being an Iron Man knock off could lead to some humorous comparisons with Stark (maybe even resulting in the fight that Tony vs Whiplash
could have been).
I’m big fan of David VS Goliath style stories and there’s no one bigger than Bullski.
Most Iron Man villains tend not not be the most interesting in character but their name, gimmicks and tech are often adopted by another person… Probably because the writer finds it easier to create a fresh character than trudging through years of continuity.
The Crimson Dynamo, doubtlessly one of Iron Man’s oldest arch villains, is no stranger to this having had (at the time of writing) thirteen replacements since the character’s inception!
This potentially embarrassing trope was actually incorporated into The Winter Guard mini-series which explains how for every Russian operative that falls there is someone training to be their replacement.
Shockingly, The Dynamo’s abilities stem from his advanced suit of armour with the power to manipulate electrical fields. He’s another Cold War era villain who could be used to delve into Natasha’s past, as she was culpable in the death of the original Dynamo while working with his replacement in the comics.
This could be brought to film in a very effective way as a revenge driven story.
The majority of the original Dynamo’s story was incorporated into Whiplash’s in Iron Man 2 but with another 12 candidates behind that Vader-esque face plate there’s a rich history of characters and origins to draw on.
I don’t mind the sex of The Dynamo either way but it would be great to see some more strong female characters, especially villainous ones, and the most recent and one of the more successful Dynamos was Galina Nemirovsky a female operative very much the equal of Natasha.
Russia’s answer to Captain America even complete with his own shield (I think Steve better look into copyright laws).
As with Crimson Dynamo there have been several successors to the name, however the original was Alexei Shostakov… Natasha’s husband whom she had thought dead for many years.
In his youth he was rescued by Vasily Karpov and grew up to become the most publicly celebrated test pilot in Soviet Union.
The KGB felt that both he and Natasha would be exceptional operatives, so Alexei’s death was faked; giving Natasha the motivation to become a spy in order to honour him.
All the while, he was being secretly trained to become The Red Guardian. In their years apart he became a cruel and spiteful man, a far cry from her loving husband.
There’s a movie right there!
This is in many ways a defining moment in Natasha’s life. Shostakov has been depicted as both hero & villain either would benefit the film as long as the relationship is there.
The Gargoyle/The Gremlin
The Hulk’s first antagonist was Yuri Topolov; a Gamma-mutate who’s experiments with radiation enlarged his cranium and enhanced his intelligence.
Realising that Bruce Banner could transform back into his human form Yuri begged Banner to make him human once more.
After being cured of his disfigurement, Yuri turned on his Soviet masters, foiling their plan of creating their own Gamma Bomb.
Yuri died a hero, but not before fathering a son, Kondrati, who had much more success in battling The Green Goliath and even succeeded Boris Bullski to become the second Titanium Man.
Tragically, during a battle with Iron Man he perished over the skies of Mother Russia. This could be a very unique menace for Natasha, a bitter and twisted creature who could have been an experiment in creating a highly intelligent KGB operative that went terribly wrong.
Topolov could resent Natasha for her beauty, physical capability and her ability to do the job he is now physically unable to do in his now deformed body. Much like his first appearance, maybe he needs Banner to cure him and thinks the best way to him is through Natasha.
Gargoyle was very much a proto-Leader and Mark Hamill played the tragi-comedy of the character to perfection in the 90’s Hulk Animated Series.
Sergei Krylov was a respected Russian nuclear physicist… who was also quite mad and decided to expose himself to radioactive energies in order match his intellect with raw physical power.
He was successful but now has to keep his awesome power in check by wearing a containment suit.
He created a highly radioactive area for himself in Russia dubbed The Forbidden Zone where those like himself (including Red Guardian replacement Tania Belinskaya) could live in relative peace.
Until, that is, he decided to reunite The Soviet Union of old by using his powers to consolidate the masses into a collective shared consciousness.
Now ,this particular character might be a bit of a push given that all the other characters are a bit more grounded in espionage but I’ve always dug his design and if you don’t like it we might just fall out…
See what I did there?
The new and ‘improved’ Black Widow and still loyal to her Russian handlers… but much more morally ambiguous than Natasha ever was (which is really saying something when you think about it).
Not to mention that she’s younger, nastier, more reckless and far less above using sex as one of her many weapons than Natasha.
It would create great dramatic tension if Natasha learned that another Russian operative was using her title and dragging it through the mud with methods she would never use herself.
Although at one point they became reluctant allies, there has always been an underlying tension between the two.
It’s clear she’d be a great foil and attempt to hold a dark mirror up to the person Natasha used to be.
In one story which was a pastiche on John Woo film Face-Off they swap faces.. now that’s a Marvel film I would pay to see…
Ah, who am I kidding? I’d pay to see them all!
The idea of combining her with Melina Vostokoff; The Iron Maiden (An armoured soviet spy) would make sense too as their stories/motivations are very similar.
The Winter Soldier
There’s a line in Captain America: Civil War
where Black Widow while fighting Bucky she says “You could at least recognise me…”
This could simply be a reference to Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014) but in the comics Bucky was one of her main training instructors in The Red Room.
They even shared a romantic relationship; both at that time and again when his memory returned to him.
Since we’ve seen Natasha withhold information from Captain America, Iron Man and countless others before, who’s to say that something this personal wouldn’t be her most guarded secret of all?
I would like to see them play with a Hawkman/Hawkgirl dynamic where one person remembers their entire love affair while the other is completely oblivious. It is something that happens in the finale of Winter Soldier’s first ongoing series and would be absolutely heart wrenching to watch on the big screen.
They have made an effective team in the field as well, working to each other’s strengths and with similar backgrounds it would be truly fascinating to see this relationship on screen.
Ivan Petrovich Bezukhov
Searching for survivors of Stalingrad, Ivan rescued Natasha as an infant. He raised her, trained her as best he could soon and was soon putting her skills to test in The Red Room forging her into Mother Russia’s top Black Widow Agent.
He was a stern taskmaster but also stubbornly loyal, so when Natasha defected to the west he followed, trying his best to protect her at all costs.
At one point Natasha said she would swear unwavering loyalty to The KGB if they gave Ivan the same youth serum she had been given in order to save his life. His son was also one of the several Crimson Dynamo operators.
In “Deadly Origin” (controversially) he was recast as a creepy villain who had always been in love with Natasha, and after a long life of unhappiness and rejection decided to turn into a terrorist and a cyborg (probably too much vodka one night led to that decision).
Personally I prefer the Bogart loving father figure version… And also there are probably far too many villains on the list already.
In the comics, Black Widow was instrumental in making Hawkeye into the hero he is today, but in the MCU it’s the other way round.
Clint was inspired by Iron Man but manipulated by The Widow into fighting his inspiration… because he had fallen madly in love with her. He eventually saw the error of his ways, repented for his sins and eventually became one of the best Avengers of all time.
No matter how much time has passed, Natasha still has a strong hold on the man she once had so clearly under her thumb.
I want to see that mission! In the first Avengers (2012) there were hints at a romantic entanglement, which were later quashed in the sequel by her dalliance with Bruce Banner and, of course, Hawkeye’s wife… but doesn’t mean in the past there wasn’t something more between them.
In the MCU, Clint Barton was sent to assassinate her but “made a different call” and brought her over to the side of the angels.
Again, I wouldn’t necessarily miss the romantic element as long as we saw the friendship and their unique past.
Who wouldn’t want to see these two teamed in a Jason Bourne-esque thriller I mean Renner has technically already done one
Originally in this slot I would’ve placed Iron Man, but they have not really made much of this relationship in the MCU.
Continuing the job Hawkeye did in making her switch sides, who best to continue her training and development in SHIELD other than the worlds greatest spy?
We’ve seen that she is fiercely loyal to Fury but why?
How did they become this close and how is she Fury’s most trusted contact?
This is the story I’d like to see; how their relationship goes from mutual mistrust to being comrades who are willing to die for each other. Whatever the story is, it deserves to be on screen and if I can get more of Sam Jackson as Fury you’ve got my money.
I’d like to delve into Nick’s personal life, like his brother turned terrorist Jake AKA Scorpio, leader of the Zodiac Cartel became wielder of a weapon of incredible destructive power known only as The Zodiac Key.
Or how about Nick’s illegitimate son Mikel, who also took on that role? Perhaps Nick can’t bring himself to kill his own family but Natasha can.
Why am I not writing these movies??
Sure, rights-wise this is a long shot… but since Spider-Man has been introduced into The MCU the possibilities are almost endless
. Most likely Spidey characters will stay within Spidey movies but if they didn’t, who would be the best challenge for the MCU’s master spy?
Why, a master of disguise of course!
Dmitri Smerdyakov was the illegitimate son of a Russian nobleman and a servant girl, ignored by his father and a humiliation to his mother he learnt from a very young age how to be invisible.
He would often entertain his half brother Sergei Kravinoff (Kraven The Hunter) with impressions of relatives and neighbours. Sergei was the only person in his life that would just about tolerate him… but also handed him vicious beatings from time to time.
With these skills he soon became a master of infiltration, with his cornucopia of disguises, selling secrets to the highest bidder (often The KGB).
Much later, he altered his face to make it more malleable so that he didn’t require disguises but could reshape his face to match practically anyone.
During the “Ends Of The Earth” storyline, Natasha threatens to reveal the secret of his true face to the world, which for him is the death-knell for his anonymity and his own personal identity.
Another enemy rife with opportunity and Natasha would never see him coming…
This is yet another long shot but still very possible.
Marvel Studios have said that the Netflix Marvel characters and movie ones will not be interacting for the time being, however, I honestly believe The Defenders & Agents Of SHIELD will at least cameo in Avengers: Infinity War (2018). Since the projected release date for this movie is coming after that, technically that rule may go out the window.
Daredevil’s history with Black Widow is a long, winding road.
During the high of the Women’s Lib Movement she shared top billing with him on his own book (which at the time was unheard of) from 1971-1975.
This paved the way for a renaissance of female led books including She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel etc. Natasha even convinced DD to move from Hell’s Kitchen to San Fransisco… if anyone could do it it would be The Black Widow.
They represent one of the most complex modern relationships in comics, almost constantly at odds with each over methodologies, but anyone can see they care deeply for each other.
However many times Matt Murdock’s luck with women goes south, he always finds himself drawn back to Tasha.
Nostalgia can be a killer.
They work so well together as a daring duo, often showcasing their beautiful gymnastics & balletic skills across rooftops all the while savagely beating their enemies.
This period in the comics was so successful that David Bowie’s wife at the time pitched a TV show about it… I’m not even kidding
Keep your eight legs crossed that we will see at least some of these characters in a BW movie…