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What Do Scarlett Johansson’s Scenes in the Age of Ultron Trailers Mean For Black Widow?

"Oh boy."

black widow head 2

If the little bits and pieces we’ve seen of Natasha Romanoff in all of Marvel’s Age of Ultron trailers are anything to go on, it’s very likely we’ll be seeing a lot of the character’s origin story in the upcoming film. But is that a good thing for fans who want Black Widow to get her own solo film? (Big honkin’ comic book spoilers abound, as well as possible Age of Ultron spoilers if I’m right, WHICH I KNOW I AM.)

Now, if you’re a regular reader of my various reactions to these trailers, you’ll know I’ve been freaking out a lot about the possibility of a Red Room flashback. “But Victoria, what is a Red Room,” you’re probably saying. “Is that where Natasha goes to get her hair dyed that exceptional color? Explain things to me!” Fine, but only because I love talking about this so much.

Prior to 2005 (actually 1999—as some commenters below pointed out, the Red Room technically first appeared in Itsy Bitsy Spider. Thanks, all!), Natasha’s comic book origins origins involved being raised as an orphan by Ivan Petrovich—which, in a beautiful piece of either foreshadowing or coincidence, also happens to share his first two names with Pavlov—until she was kidnapped by Baron Von Strucker and trained to be a master assassin, as well as a famous ballerina in the USSR. However, in Richard K. Morgan’s Black Widow run, she is one of many young orphaned girls trained at an early age by Petrovitch at a covert “Red Room” facility as part of a “Black Widow Ops” program. (Also, Bucky “The Winter Soldier” Barnes is one of her instructors and they had kind of a thing together, but that’s neither here nor there. You know, unless we get some of that sweet sweet relationship drama in Captain America: Civil War or something.)

Anyway, the reason for the confusion, this new origin mandates, is that she was implanted with artificial memories as part of her training, during which she also underwent biological and physical procedures to give her an unnaturally long life and enhanced reflexes. She never actually trained as a ballerina with the Bolshoi, but she remembers it nonetheless.


From Black Widow #4, with art by Greg Land

Not only is this new origin widely celebrated by fans of Black Widow, it’s also the version of the story X-Men screenwriter David Hayter used for the Black Widow screenplay Lionsgate passed on in 2004. And considering we know how much Joss Whedon looooves his trained-as-a-weapon, mentally-brainwashed ballerinas (*cough*River*cough*), it stands to reason that this, from the first trailer:

black widow ballerinas

And this, from the most recent one:

black widow bangs

Real talk: all I wanted from Phase 2 is Natasha’s bangs

And especially these:

black widow hand in face

(Whose fingernails are those? USSR geneticist Antonovna Kudrin’s?)

black widow operating

… could all relate to a possible origin story flashback for Natasha in Age of Ultron, most likely in the form of some Scarlet Witch-induced hallucinations.

This could come as a mixed blessing for fans who desperately want a Black Widow stand alone film. On the one hand, a prequel or origin explanation has often been cited as the easiest possibly entry point, and giving it screentime in an ensemble movie could be the final nail in that particular coffin. On the other other hand (we’re going by Zaphod Beeblebrox rules here), maybe we’ll only get enough backstory in Age of Ultron to raise more questions, which would be an even better entry point for a new film—and it’s not as if it’s impossible to tell any other kinds of Black Widow stories anyway, as both Nicole Perlman and Nathan Edmonson would like to remind you.

Personally, I’m of the mind that more Black Widow is always good, and I’m confident Whedon knows how to convey this story as powerfully and emotionally impactful as possible in a relatively short amount of time, especially since he’s technically done the same thing before with his own characters. What are your thoughts?

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