Black Widow
Black Widow
Portrayed by Scarlett Johansson
Full Name Natasha Romanoff
Age 28 (86)
Height 5'3"
Build Small and athletic
Eyes Blue
Hair Red
Factions Avengers | SHIELD
Occupation SHIELD agent.
Alignment Hero

Claim to Fame

Woman with a thousand identities, master spy, assassin, and femme fatale.


The Black Widow is a legendary figure in the intelligence community, though the name is thought to have been handed down from operative to operative over the years. Very few people realize the Black Widow today is the same Black Widow who first emerged during the Cold War 60+ years ago. Russian and US spymasters know the Widow defected to the US approximately 10 years ago. Few of them, however, know if the defection is genuine or not.


Born in Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in 1928, Natalia lost her parents when she was very young. They died in a blaze that broke out in their apartment building thanks to anti-Soviet attacks on the city. Her mother was able to pass her to a Soviet soldier through a broken window before she succumbed to smoke, herself. The solider took Natalia in, but was eventually forced to relinquish her to "Department X" and its Red Room program.

Midway through WW2, the adolescent Natalia wound up in Madripoor, where she had been brought by Nazis, who had kidnapped and subsequently given her to the Hand with the intention that she be brainwashed and trained as a master assassin and, perhaps, reinserted under Russian control as a sleeper agent. Ultimately, that didn't happen. She was rescued and returned to the Red Room by the same soldier that had taken her there in the first place. Indeed, the man would become a recurring character in her life for the length of his, sometimes even going so far as to 'assist' her on her missions, acting a chauffeur and bodyguard when she was masquerading as a woman of society on behalf of her superiors.

Regardless, by the time the War was over, she was well indoctrinated by her Russian masters, and already an expert in espionage, hand-to-hand, and countless weapons. She had been bio- and psycho-technologically enhanced by the Russian version of the super soldier serum (which wasn't quite as effective as the American version used at around the same time on Steve Rogers), and, consequently, was faster, stronger, and more resilient than most of the men she encountered. Further, she was trained in more subtle arts of psycho-, social- and sexual-manipulation, turning her into the perfect femme fatale — though it would be several years before she would exercise those skills to any great degree.

Indeed, her training was enhanced by rigorous training as a ballerina, which resulted in a position at the Bolshoi in the early-to-mid 50's. She retired from the ballet to become the wife of celebrated Soviet test pilot Alexi Shostakov in a state-arranged, but remarkably happy marriage. Indeed, when Shostakov apparently died in a rocket test several years later, Natasha was genuinely grief-stricken, as a result.

However, the whole thing was planned by the Red Room administrators to strengthen her loyalty, given her independent, intelligent nature did sometimes make it difficult to ensure the indoctrination they put her through held properly. Shostakov's death gave them the emotional leverage they needed to get Natasha "into the fight", as it were. It was remarkably successful…

For a time, anyway.

She spent much of her time from the late sixties to late nineties working as a corporate infiltrator and sleeper agent for Russia. This brought her into conflict time and time again with several counter-intelligence and espionage agencies in the West, including international organizations like the U.N. sanctioned S.H.I.E.L.D. and the C.I.A.'s "International Operations" initiative (which was eventually dissolved in favour of Stormwatch).

During this time, she went through a frequent cycle of missions, debriefs (some hostile), and subsequent re-education (i.e. brainwashing and memory adjustment), all orchestrated to keep her loyal to the Motherland — and all acerbated by the Russian spymasters' tendency to jar her out of one life and into another by sending her ex-husband after her to bring her home. (Discovering he hadn't died was one helluva shock, to be sure.) To this day, she can't honestly say which of her memories of anything prior to her defection and subsequent work for S.H.I.E.L.D. are truly hers. She fears very few of them may be.

It was, in fact, encounters with a couple of young S.H.I.E.L.D. field agents, and perhaps a choice encounter or two with a grizzled war vet in the same agency who was actually older than she, in the late eighties/early nineties that laid the groundwork for her eventual defection in the early-to-mid-2000's. Each encounter left her questioning her employers' motives a little more, making each cycle of debrief and consequent re-education that much more difficult. Eventually, enough was enough and she broke free and fled to America.

In America, she took up freelance work for S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as other agencies on the side. She became a gun for hire, sure, but a good one. The legend of the Black Widow was, by this point, long and storied, apocryphal, in some ways, but still impressive. (Who, after all, could really believe the twenty-something redhead with the tasers on her wrist was the same woman whispered about by vets of the Cold War, right?)

Eventually, however, she was brought into the S.H.I.E.L.D. fold. She's spent much of the last 10 years doing extensive field ops for them, handing highly sensitive operations the Director really couldn't trust to 'regular' agents. And her operational parameters have been so wide, her discretionary authority is positively impressive. Few, other than director-level operatives can counter her and her personnel file and history is locked down against everyone except a scant handful the Director has personally cleared.

Thus, even in that agency, she's still largely a mystery to everyone except a select few. Less than a handful of S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel really know who she is and what she does; most agents only know her code name, at best, and have only heard rumours of her exploits. Her mission reports are almost always Level 7 security and above. Indeed, she's one of less than a handful of agents that actually merits a Level 10 security clearance rating, which is higher than most Regional and Special Directors. What is known about her, however, is this: If the Black Widow's been called in, Things Just Got Real.

Character Details

The Black Widow is a chameleon. She alters her appearance and her personality to suit those she's trying to impress… or intimidate, depending on the situation. Regardless, some things about her are sure: She's typically gracious, charming, and intelligent, perhaps even a little beguiling. She can set someone at ease with a smile, or threaten them with a single arch of her brow. She can be incredibly subtle, when she wants to be, and is exceptionally observant and meticulous in her attention to detail. Very, very few people know who she really is behind the mask.

When left to her own devices, with no one around to impress or manipulate, she tends to be faintly self-deprecating with a dry sense of humour. Even she's not entirely sure who she is, when she's alone with herself. Too many years of brainwashing, indoctrination, deprogramming, and lies have made her own mind the one thing she can never know with any true certainty.


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Character Gallery


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