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Spoilers for Agent Carter are ahead
If you watched last week’s episode of ABC’s Agent Carter, you undoubtedly remember that Peggy Carter’s new neighbor Dottie, who is not as sweet as she seems, killed a man with moves similar to what we’ve seen Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow use in the movies. The show runners revealed hours later that Dottie is part of the Black Widow Program (though it isn’t called that on the show), i.e. the precursor to the shadowy organization that Black Widow was affiliated with before joining S.H.I.E.L.D. While TV viewers will learn more about what Dottie’s deal is in the coming weeks, this gives us a better idea of what to expect with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s super spy in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Let's dig in!
Other than small comments made in The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we haven’t learned much about Black Widow’s depressing past. But with her expanded role in the May blockbuster, it’s likely the curtain will be pulled back, and the trailers give us hints of what’s to come.
Starting off, there’s a blink-and-you-miss-it scene in the most recent Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer of Natasha being pulled back by someone. Pause at the right moment, and you can tell it’s a younger Natasha by her hairstyle.
This unseen figure, who appears to be a woman, shoves her onto an operating table.
Finally, we see the menacing shot of the surgical instruments being prepped, and poor Natasha is the "patient."
While this is all we see of the younger Natasha, there is a shot from the first trailer of several ballerinas practicing. It may seem out of place compared to the other shots of superheroes and mass pandemonium, but it actually connects to Black Widow’s comic book origin.
In her earliest appearances, it was mentioned that Natalia Romanova used to be a ballerina. However, her backstory was later retconned, and it was revealed that her memories of being a dancer were implanted in her head by the U.S.S.R’s Department X. It appears that the movie will follow suit. Natasha is kidnapped as a young woman and brainwashed into being a talented assassin, with false memories giving her an incorrect recollection of what her life was like, and then sent out by this Russian spy program on assassinations and other dangerous missions. Eventually she breaks free of her programming, and knowing that she’s been on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s radar, joins the organization with the goal "wiping the red off her ledger." This lines up with a comment Natasha made to Hawkeye in The Avengers about how she know what it’s like to be unmade.
How will we get a glimpse into her past? A popular theory is that at some point in the film, Scarlet Witch will use her powers to make all of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes experience hallucinations. We saw in the first trailer that Steve Rogers somehow ends up back in the 1940s, but unless time travel has been thrown into the mix, this isn’t a real scenario. The same could go for Black Widow. Scarlet Witch’s powers makes Natasha re-experience these horrible times in her mind. Another possibility is that she flashbacks willingly. There is a scene from the first trailer of her standing in an empty room. Perhaps this is the abandoned facility where she was experimented on, and she’s remembering what they did to her.
So while we may not see past missions like "Drakov’s daughter" or "Sao Paulo" unfold in these flashbacks, at least we’ll learn what Black Widow was like before she became one of the good guys. We’ll see Black Widow and the rest of the Avengers when Avengers: Age of Ultron is released on May 1.