Anonymous asked: do you think that natasha should be enhanced with that super-soldier-eques serum in the marvel movie universe like in the comics or no?
Let’s start this like I always do: with me waving my homemade cardboard Continuity Police badge around because that makes me feel like a big girl.
The idea that Natasha has a super soldier style serum, in the comics, anyway, is actually a pretty fuzzy one. There are two places it comes from. Black Widow: Homecoming #5, in dubious continuity at the best of times, is where the chemical enhancement card first got dealt.
We rewired you all biochemically. Gave you ramped up immune and cell repair systems. All the Black Widows have it. Your wounds heal four, maybe five times as fast as a normal human’s would. You hardly get sick, you don’t age as fast… your hair doesn’t fall out. Your skin can take the wind and sun without…
Note that none of this has to do with running faster or being able to punch better. Most of these biochemical enhancements are cosmetic and in fact the main evil plot here involves a villainous make-up company trying to buy the Black Widow tech for an eyecream, because feminism. I’m also gonna footnote that Morgan didn’t intend for Natasha to be unaging. His Natasha was in her late thirties but could probably have passed for a half-decade younger. His Natasha was not eighty-three who could pass for twenty-six.
I tracked the evolution of the ageless Natasha thing in a recent answer post, but when Brubaker & Co brought it back to make his OC/Canon Character OTP happen, he didn’t actually explain it. Everyone just sorta saw Morgan’s line about biochemical rewiring and linked the two. Paul Cornell actually explained it, and in explaining, further retconned:
Winter Soldier: The comrade needs medical treatment. My superirors offer you both this chemical in exchange for your renewed loyalty. It will heal him— and increase your life spans. But there is an extremely limited supply, comrades.
Cornell’s “chemical” is something Natasha knowingly accepts and isn’t covertly wired into her as a child, so points! But it also has the side-effect of driving people mad. This isn’t spelled out by the text, but highly implied: the other people who get the formula, Ivan and later Alexi, turn into wacky Bond villains. Only Natasha endures.
So, in comics Natasha has a government experiment chemical designed to make her a more useful secret agent. You could say it was a super soldier serum. But the Super Soldier Serum is a very specific Steve Rogers linked, Steve Rogers special thing in Marvel continuity. What Natasha has is closer to the Infinity Formula— she doesn’t age, and maybe she heals a bit faster, but she isn’t puffed up to the peak of human potential, either.
And the reason I went on this long detour is because that distinction is sort of my answer to your question. I don’t think giving Natasha generic “enhancements” really adds anything to the character. I don’t think making her a Soviet knock-off Captain America makes her any more herself.
But the agelessness thing, I’ve grown to like. Liu and Ellis used it to tell really smart, really good stories about Natasha that I loved, for one. It lets Natasha rely solely on her skill and cunning but also gives a reason for her to be much better at it than everyone else. The idea of an endless past makes thematic sense for a character trying to atone. And it takes the out of universe problem of making a Cold War concept relevant and cleverly spins it into an in universe problem for Natasha to struggle with.
Finally, I think it nicely underlines that Natasha’s real superpower has always been survival. That’s what a widow is, you know. Not the one who died, but the one who lived on after.
And I think all that is cool stuff to play around with if they ever do a Black Widow film, or get the time to explain some of Natasha’s complications, instead of just hint at them. But it’s strong comic-booky stuff, that does strain a bit at the badass normal cred that the MCU has going on with her. I wouldn’t want them to chuck in the ageless element just so she can hook up with Winter Soldier or have kid adventures with Wolverine because I kinda have a feeling that would make her more confusing, not less. But I wouldn’t mind if they started her story at the Battle of Stalingrad— I think that might explain her better.
Anonymous asked: My friend told me a story about Steve, Logan, and Ivan rescuing kid!Natasha. Did that really happen? Has it been retconned out of her continuity? What is her relationship with Logan like?
Sure, you’re talking about Uncanny X-men #268, a retro teamup set in WW2 that still felt pretty 1990 thanks to more than the usual amount of ninja. This is a Claremont/Lee joint, the gruff Wolverine and young and idealistic Captain America team up to save a little girl from the Hand. Also Nazis.
Strucker: I’m given to understand— by the old man who leads these costumed fanatics— that young Natasha here has an extraordinary aptitude for the martial arts. Under his tutelage, he will become the Hand’s master assassin.
It was 1941, and Ivan was living from place to place, Natasha in tow, trying to keep her safe from the Hand. Logan was hunting the Hand, Steve was hunting Nazis— together again, for the first time! As to whether or not it’s still in continuity, well—
Jubilee: Her? That old?? Uh-uh. Now way not a chance totally impossible! They’re talking like ancient history!
Uncanny X-men #268 was the first comic to suggest that Natasha was way, way older than she looked. The connection to World War II wasn’t new— in the earliest tellings of Natasha’s early life, she was a Russian war orphan adopted by the soldier Ivan Bezukhov. (I suspect this was all kind of a shout-out to Modesty Blaise.) But that version of her backstory, complete with the Battle of Stalingrad, was established in the early 1970s. Back then, it stuck Natasha in her mid-thirties. In 1990, it made her close to sixty. The issue offered no explanation, and if Claremont had one, he left the book before he could reveal it.
Because she’d only been secretly immortal in one comic from 1990 with absolutely zero rhyme or reason other writers gradually ignored that one comic, and if it wasn’t explicitly retconned it was definitely ignored. When Devin Grayson wrote her 1999 Black Widow mini she pictured Natasha as a creature of the Brezhnev era, and Richard Morgan had his Natasha approaching her fortieth birthday in 2005, not her 70th. These sorts of timelines made Uncanny #268 impossible, and that sort of non-retcon is pretty standard in comics. Reed Richards had World War II adventures, too, those have gradually fallen out of continuity because it makes no sense to acknowledge them.
But, in 2007 Ed Brubaker brought the “Black Widow doesn’t age” idea right back, so that he could retcon in a 1950s romance with his Winter Soldier pet project. Around the same time, Daniel Way did an Uncanny #268 flashback of his own in Wolverine Origins #16, but we don’t talk about that here. Basically, though, the World War II stories were back, and Paul Cornell and Marjorie Liu both worked to make Natasha’s agelessness part her own sombre character instead of just an excuse for cool retroactive team-ups starring dudes.
TL;DR: yes that story is still in continuity.
As for Natasha’s relationship with Logan, the punchline of Uncanny X-men #268 was that Natasha was the first Kitty Pryde, the first of many spunky little-girl sidekicks the man seems to acquire. For this reason it’s kinda creepy that fandom often assumes they’ve slept together. Logan was too transient back then to be a real fixture, a constant influence— it was Ivan who raised her, who was always there, not Wolverine. But when Wolverine was there he was being kicking rad and punching ninjas in the face, so of course he made a strong impression.
I’m not sure I’d call them close, exactly. Natasha doesn’t have the same kind of melancholy heart-to-hearts with Logan as she does with Matt, for example. I’m not sure he’s #1 on the list of persons she’d bare her soul to. But she doesn’t need to, with him, there’s a kind of weary trust there instead, borne of cruel lives that have crossed paths for decades. Logan respects the woman she’s become, but is still perhaps a touch overprotective. He remembers, now, the little girl she used to be. Natasha allows it, maybe because it’s nice that someone does.
so, i work in the children’s department of a public library and a few months back when i was going through a book catalogue, i saw black widow joins the mighty avengers and got really excited because HEY! a black widow book for kids! AWESOME! i ordered it even though it was paperback and i never order those since they don’t hold up well, and it’s been steadily checked out since we got it on the shelves, which is also AWESOME.
but then i read it myself and i’m not too hot on the backstory? they’ve given her a younger brother, alexei, who is also trained by the red room, and her whole reason for going to the avengers is to rescue her brother from having his mind erased.
it just bothers me that they rewrote her backstory and motives to be about a male character, and it seems they’ve created this character just for that purpose (at least, i can’t find anything online about her having a brother.) i mean, i know a lot of her history is tied up with ivan, her former husband alexi, clint, and bucky, (and most of this i know from wikis, since i’m new to marvel and have only read the more recent books about her so maybe i’m totally off here) but it just feel different having her motive for breaking free from the kgb’s control being about someone else’s freedom rather than her own. i’m also wondering if this is the backstory they have planned for the movies, since this is part of a children’s series meant to tie in with them.
ANYWHO. just wanted to know what your thoughts on this might be.
This got long!!