Although MCU fans have been clamoring for a Black Widow movie for years, it’s taken so long for Marvel to make one that she’s now unequivocally dead. So instead, it’ll delve into her past more than the piecemeal offerings we’ve so far been afforded, and a prequel comic now puts a previous reference to her actions in a new light.
The first of the two-issue Black Widow: Prelude sees General Ross hunting the members of Team Cap in the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, and uses a government official needing to be briefed on the former assassin as an excuse to recap her origin, with a few additional details. Ross states she joined the Red Room after attracting the attention of its supervisor, one General Dreykov, which would be just as meaningless were it not for a moment in The Avengers.
If you’ll recall, the scene between Nat and Loki on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier is mostly remembered for the latter’s dated and slightly risqué insult of Nat being a “mewling quim,” or it being the only moment in the movie where anyone psychologically outmaneuvers the scheming trickster. Relevant to this is Loki’s failed attempt to get into Nat’s head by listing the terrible things she’s done that made her feel as though she was beyond redemption.
Specifically, he mentions “Sao Paulo,” “the hospital fire” and “Dreykov’s daughter.” While at the time it was not unreasonable to assume that these were assassinations undertaken on behalf of her KGB handlers, having one of her guiltiest memories be some unspoken atrocity committed against the child of her overseer raises some new questions about the untold aspects of her past.
As ComicBook.com explains:
Many Marvel fans assumed that Loki’s rant was following the central theme of terrible things Natasha had done in service of the Black Widow program, but the Black Widow Prelude comic re-contextualizes that story, entirely. It’s now clear that whatever happened between Natasha, General Dreykov, and his daughter, it was part of Natasha’s turbulent and no doubt violent exit from the Red Room Program. It will be intersting to see if General Dreykov and the past incident with his daughter has anything to do with the forces that come for Natasha when she returns to Russia in Black Widow. If so, the connection between that story and Avengers would be an awesome MCU retcon.
It’s entirely possible that the circumstances that instigated the altercation was what lead to her defection, with whatever she did to the unnamed girl being what drew the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D. “in the worst way.” Since Black Widow will explore Nat’s past and training, it’s likely that this moment will be revisited, as the circumstances surrounding it may well have formed a pivotal moment in her personal history. Not to mention, pulling out and re-contextualizing an oblique and throwaway line from eight years ago would otherwise be a somewhat arbitrary choice were it not about to be afforded a new significance, right?