Thanks to Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the name Black Widow is synonymous with Natasha Romanoff. But she’s not the only master of espionage to adopt the alias.
There are multiple Black Widows in the Marvel comics. The Red Room — a Soviet program — trained at least 28 orphan girls to become operatives and sent them on top-secret missions to infiltrate China and the West. Over time, though, being a Black Widow became more in league with heroism, spread across all time and space.
The MCU will recognize the multiple Black Widows in the upcoming solo prequel movie Black Widow, which will see Johansson reprise her role as Natasha. Speaking to IGN, co-star Rachel Weisz gave fans a clue about what to expect from the film.
“There are quite a number. I’m a Black Widow and there’s Scarlett [Johansson] and Florence [Pugh]. There’s quite a lot of other characters you’ll also meet that are Black Widows.”
Weisz’s comments hint at the possibility of another Red Room agent filling the void left behind by Natasha in future MCU films. By establishing the existence of multiple Black Widows in the upcoming movie, Marvel now has an opportunity to continue the franchise with a different character.
With this in mind, I’ve prepared a list of the other known Black Widows in Marvel comics. A couple will appear in the movie, but the others probably won’t, given that they haven’t been associated with the KGB.
Melena Vostokoff/Iron Maiden
Not to be confused with the best British heavy metal band, this is the character Weisz is playing on the big screen. She’s basically an assassin who was hired to kill Natasha, but she was never the biggest fan of her target in the first place. Melena always felt overshadowed by her counterpart and was more than willing to take her out of the picture. This rivalry will probably feature in the movie.
Iron Maiden eventually quit serving Russia to become a freelance mercenary. She also joined the Femizons, an army of female criminals gathered by Superia in a bid to sterilize the rest of the world form a women-only nation. Now that’s a story the MCU should adapt at some point.
Drew is better known to Marvel fans as Spider-Woman, but in the Ultimate Marvel incarnation of the comic storylines — which reimagined the Marvel roster in a different multiverse — she briefly identified as Black Widow and was an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. This version of the character is also a clone of Peter Parker.
If Jessica ever shows up in the MCU, it will likely be in the form of her more famous arachnid-themed alter ego. Her run as Black Widow was short-lived and she only used the name to pay tribute to her fallen comrade Captain America, who got killed along with several others during a battle with Galactus.
That said, with the franchise set to explore the multiverse further in Phase 4, anything is possible. Just don’t expect her to feature in the upcoming Black Widow prequel as it wouldn’t make a lick of sense in the MCU at that point in its history.
Another character to adopt the alias in the Ultimate Marvel continuity, Monica is a soldier who falls in love with Nick Fury and marries him — only to divorce the scoundrel a few months later upon discovering that he was boinking her mom and friends on the side.
It’s hard to imagine Monica finding her way into the MCU in the near future. Given her location in another dimension, meeting her will require some exploration of the multiverse. However, she’s a strong leader and demonstrates strong kills in spying and martial arts, so bringing her into the franchise at some point could be interesting.
Much like black widow spiders, Tania’s shtick involves sleeping with her mate and eating them. She’s a futuristic iteration of the Black Widow character who operates as part of the 2099 Avengers team. Therefore, her potential inclusion in the current MCU franchise will either come about through time travel or in movies further down the line.
As is the case with other Black Widows who appear on this list, Tania represents the post-Russia Black Widow legacy. However, like Natasha, she’s not exactly a goody-two-shoes heroine, either. Tania has an interesting past that involves cannibalism, after all.
Still, with multiple Black Widows appearing in the movie, naming one of them after Tania as a nod to the comics is possible.
Dottie has already appeared in the MCU as an antagonist in the Agent Carter TV series. In many ways, she’s the most honest interpretation of a Black Widow agent yet as she’s a remorseless killer acting on behalf of Russia. No changes of heart. No redemption. Dottie is pure evil, but she respects a good opponent nonetheless.
While the character predates the Red Room’s Black Widow program, she is a precursor to the future spies who has the same duties as them.