One certainly has to give Marvel Studios credit. They know how to be secretive, especially when it comes to one of the most obscure characters in their line-up, Black Widow. With only 2 trailers, 1 special look, 1 Big Game Spot and multiple posters available to the general public, the mystery surrounding the upcoming MCU film is something that draws a parallel to how much we actually know about Black Widow.
Natasha Romanoff has been around the Marvel Cinematic Universe for nearly over 10 years since her debut in Iron Man 2 (2010), and yet, her personal history is one shrouded in absolute mystery. We know only glimpses on Natasha’s past in the MCU from small teases here and there in almost every film she has been in.
Now, I have multiple theories in regards to this film and a lot of things I’d like to discuss, but I will be breaking them down into different articles because they cover many different ideas, so we’ll start with this piece titled:
Now, a few days ago, I went browsing online on Hot Topic and found that they were already selling merch for Black Widow. Pretty awesome right? But there was a particular item of clothing that caught my attention.
HER UNIVERSE MARVEL BLACK WIDOW TOUR T-SHIRT.
Quite an interesting shirt no? Here’s the description for the item: “Where in the world is Natasha Romanoff? Keep track of the different sites Black Widow has been to with this oversized tour-inspired tee. The front has “Black Widow” with her hourglass logo and the back lists “New York, Ohio, Norway, Morocco, Budapest, Siberia.”
This shirt provides us with very fascinating details about (quite literally) which direction this film is going to take. So let’s break them down one by one:
New York, New York. The City that Never Sleeps. You might recognize it as the home to the primary base of operations for the Avengers & their state of the art facility in Upstate New York.
New Avengers Facility in Upstate New York.
Reports state that the film is set between the events of “Captain America: Civil War” & “Avengers: Infinity War“. Considering that the last scene Black Widow had in Captain America: Civil War was her discussing with Tony Stark about how Natasha flipped sides last minute of the Airport Battle and allowed Steve and Bucky to get away, with Tony warning her that T’Challa told Secretary Ross about what she did and that “they’re coming for her”, one could assume that the film could start here. Natasha getting ready to go on the run, while Secretary Ross prepares to rally the troops to go after her.
Ohio. At first glance, it seems like quite the uneventful place for an MCU film. Perfect for any rogue agent trying to lay low.
This shot of an RV in the middle of nowhere from the final trailer for Black Widow could ironically enough be anywhere. EXCEPT, you can tell a lot about a place by looking at its vegetation, and sometimes that type of vegetation is actually unique to just 1 certain location. So, by looking at these trees alone, I can depict that they are “Oak-Hickory trees”. You can tell from the leaves on the tree in front. They’re in a bud shape, with three leaves sticking out from 1 twig branch. (You guys can actually check it out for yourselves here on page 42. My Botany/Ecology professors would be proud.)
ANYWAYS, these types of trees are specific only to North America, with a vast majority of it being available to the Northeast region, and luckily for us, Ohio. So, one could deduce that the next portion of the movie occurs here. Natasha could come here to this RV and have it be her “hiding hole” as shown in these shots, where you can see she is wearing the same long shirt and is in an RV-esque enviroment looking over all of her different identities, possibly preparing to depart the US.
So, I predict that this might be the first place she goes to which sets the events of this film in motion.
Something that supports this idea is that in “Marvel’s Black Widow Prelude #2”, after having a recount of the events of Black Widow has been in during her time in the MCU, and fiery debate with Councilwoman Hawley, Secretary Ross is informed about a solid lead in regards to the whereabouts of Black Widow and they needed to mobilize immediately.
This could lead to this scene from the trailer.
Secretary Thunderbolt Ross.
We can depict that this is in the United States because of:
1) The yellow traffic sign at the far right that spells “Speed Bump Ahead”. (Apart from the sign being in English, remember that countries have their own traffic signs and the yellow diamond is particularly unique to the U.S.)
2) The amount of SWAT and Local Law Enforcement mobilized in the area.
3) Just the suburban look of this shot overall.
Another interesting detail about Ohio is that this seems to be the place for former Russian spies to lay low.
Vasily Karpov, hiding out in Cleveland in Captain America: Civil War.
Meet Vasily Karpov. Former KGB Agent. Former HYDRA Agent. You might recognize him as the commander in charge of the Winter Soldier Program during 1991 in Siberia and he was the original owner of the Winter Soldier Book in Captain America: Civil War. While his role in that film was cut short by his death at the hands of Baron Zemo, it’s an interesting detail to point out, considering Black Widow occurs right after Captain America: Civil War. So, it’s likely that there are still secrets that this commander had in that house in Cleveland that Black Widow might want to investigate in regards to the past.
Now, here’s where we have gaps in our knowledge, and we must put into place our use of speculation. When we think about Norway, we usually think about Thor and the Asgardian heritage this place has. But very few would think about Norway as a place to discuss the past about Black Widow.
Now, here’s an interesting detail from the “Marvel’s Black Widow Prelude #1” which caught my attention.
Secretary Ross states that Natasha was born in Russia. But Councilwoman Hawley brought up a fantastic point regarding Natasha’s accent. And whilst Ross tries to debunk the case by saying “she’s a spy”, it’s important to note that in the very next panel, he says that very little is actually known about her early life.
I think that Natasha may have been born in Russia, but certainly not raised entirely there. And before you completely disregard this idea, hear me out. Unlike Yelena and Melina, Natasha’s accent is “neutral”, whilst Yelena and Melina both have Russian-esque accents. Yelena and Melina, also being Widows themselves, should be able to disguise their accents just as easily as Natasha as Ross states, so why don’t they? One can assume it’s been years since both of them have been away from Russia and have had to disguise their appearance and voice if they’re on the run, so why haven’t they? Even during Natasha’s younger days, when she was seen training in the Red Room as shown in her vision during Age of Ultron, her accent remains neutral the entire time. And if that isn’t convincing enough, just look back to her first scene in the 2012 film, “The Avengers.” when she’s being interrogated by a Russian General. She sounds neutral, even when speaking Russian. Now, I could be making a stretch here and I might be looking too deep into it, as the General in that same scene said her accent has hints of Stalingrad in them. But I also have another piece of evidence.
Multiple local reports from Norway indicated that the filming location is actually her childhood home (with some speculating that Norway is indeed doubling for Russia) perhaps shown here in these scenes.
What eludes me is that, if her childhood home is in Russia (with Norway posing as it’s double as some sources speculate), then why have Marvel include Norway in the place of lists where Black Widow visits during this film? It’s certainly a lot to think about, but it is an interesting thought nonetheless.
Now, we’ve seen Morocco already in the “Black Widow | Special Look”, particularly in these shots.
Why Black Widow would travel to Morocco eludes me. Possibly to search for Melina Vostokoff or find an informant that could lead them somewhere else. We’ll see if anything new pops up.
Budapest. Perhaps the most teased location in regards to Black Widow’s history.
By piecing together the trailers and the spots, we know Black Widow first arrives to the country via train.
Keleti Train Station in Budapest as shown in the Black Widow Teaser Trailer.
After arriving on Budapest, she tracks down and locates her sister: “Yelena Belanova”, where they will now be both on the run from both Secretary Ross and the “mind-controlled” Black Widows.
I feel like a good chunk of the film will take place here. We’ll probably explore a lot of Black Widow’s past, mainly how she and Yelena are related, and what exactly happened all those years ago in Budapest, which will lead to intense high-action sequences and our first encounter with Taskmaster.
It’s also important to note that Ross and his men won’t be too far behind as shown here in this shot from the teaser trailer, where Secretary Ross is standing behind a Hungarian food truck.
I have seen MANY people address Secretary Ross’ look in this film, discussing how he has been de-aged and that this is somehow as far back as before the first Incredible Hulk film back in 2008. I don’t think this is the case for a number of reasons. Mainly, because you have Secretary Ross already wearing a suit and tie (typical of a person of power in the government) rather than what would have been his usual military general camo getup. Not only that, but the cars in which they arrive are Chevrolet Suburban LT SUVs from 2014, so anything pre-Avengers (pre-2012) is automatically discarded. And I’m almost certain that nothing interesting (at least in the MCU) happened in Hungary which would have required the intervention of Secretary Ross. Not only that, but the “Marvel’s Black Widow Prelude Comics #1 & #2” confirm that Secretary Ross will indeed be on the trail of Black Widow throughout the film. So, if you had to ask me, I think it’s more of a different look for Secretary Ross for the Black Widow film rather than just a case of de-aging. But we’ll go more into Ross’ role in this film in another theory.
Lastly, we’re headed to good ol’ Russia. Specifically, Siberia.
We’ve already seen Siberia in the trailer during these shots.
I’m certain that we’re are going to see at least three very important things happen in Siberia.
In the trailers, we’ve seen David Harbour’s character; Alexei Shostakov a.k.a. “Red Guardian”, break out of what seems to be a prison (or Gulag for you Call of Duty fans) of some sort and that Natasha, Yelena, and Melina help break Alexei out of this prison in Siberia.
FUN FACT / CONNNECTION:
In Tales of Suspense #52 “The Crimson Dynamo Strikes Again!”, we’re introduced to a particular Russian individual referred to as “Excellency”, who declares Anton Vanko a traitor for working with Tony Stark and betraying the USSR. You might recognize Anton Vanko from all the way back in 2010, from the film Iron Man 2.
In the film, it is explained that Anton Vanko was a “Soviet physicist who defected to the United States in 1963. However, he was accused of espionage and was deported in 1967” by none other than Howard Stark. When Howard deported him to the USSR, as Nick Fury explained it back then: “when the Russians found out he couldn’t deliver, they shipped his a** off to Siberia and he spent the next 20 years in a vodka-fuelled rage.”
Take note of this. He was imprisoned in Siberia for 20 years. And in the comics, Russia was ruled by this individual known as “His Excellency.” So how does this connect to the MCU? I predict that Anton Vanko was thrown into the same Gulag that Alexei is in for this film. And that “The Excellency” in charge was none other than General Dreykov, which leads me to my next location.
THE RED ROOM
We know that the Red Room is probably one of the key points of this film. So we are 100% bound to see the Red Room in action and I cannot wait enough to see how this plays out. Seeing where the Black Widows are made and trained will shed so much of Natasha’s development and training, so we are bound to see the biggest reveals about Black Widow’s past here. I’m also particularly interested in seeing how General Dreykov or Madame B. will play out with all of this, considering that not even Secretary Ross knows everything about them.
I’ve seen many people address these shots as Taskmaster’s hideout or an alternate Red Room of the sort. And while all of those certainly have potential, I can wholeheartedly believe that these scenes take place in a hospital or a medical facility of the sort.
The reason why I say this is because if you look at all of these pictures, you notice something. This place has completely has white halls, EKG machines and monitors, signs indicating the rooms people are in, examination rooms, isolation rooms, and has multiple fire extinguishers, red phones, and electrical wiring all over.
This would pay homage to the “Hospital Fire”/”Children’s Ward” reference we’ve heard over the past few MCU films. A mistake so big that haunts Natasha to this very day. BUT, that’s another theory for another article.
WHY ARE ALL OF THESE PLACES RELEVANT?
I have reason to believe that the “main antagonist” is someone who knows Natasha Romanoff very well and wants Natasha to face her past. The inside joke between Hawkeye and Black Widow about Budapest, the “Hospital Fire”, the Children’s Ward. Dreykov’s daughter. After years of teasing, we’ll finally be able to learn all of these secrets and references regarding the mystery of Black Widow’s past.
But as Nick Fury would always say, “Nobody spills the secrets because nobody knows them all”.