By Owie 6 Comments
This is the current, updated, standalone version of a post I originally made on Fetts' "A Black Widow Respect Thread," which I kept adding to for years. However, probably due to the site's recent new redesign, the formatting got all screwed up and I couldn't fix it.
It had gotten somewhat convoluted over the years, and I had wanted to turn the thread into a more text-based-link format anyway, so I moved my post over here and updated it.
This is now where I'll be posting all Black Widow feats. Enjoy!
Nat's general tier of peers would probably include characters like Moon Knight, Punisher, Crossbones, and Lady Bullseye (most of whom she's beaten), but she occasionally punches up to the Cap and Elektra level, and has fought more or less equally against Bucky multiple times now.
• Vs Captain America
Takes out Captain America with a Widow's Bite to the head. This is a heavy-context fight, with Captain American on drugs that increase his rage, so he's essentially in a bloodlusted state where he's thinking less strategically, but is more aggressive and morals off. This same Cap beats the crap out of Daredevil (who in more context is somewhat off his game) to the degree that Daredevil is lying on the ground and too weak to stop Crossbones from looking under his mask. Anyway as you can see, Diamondback and Black Widow are both fighting him with no major damage to anyone until Natasha blasts him full in the face to KO him.
• Vs Elektra
Fights Elektra after Nat had major surgery. Dodges Elektra’s strike after Elektra has shown her speed by cutting a bullet. Kicks Elektra and strikes her in the head with the pistol. Ends with weapons at each other’s heads. After Elektra leaves we see how hurt Natasha still is from the surgery.
• Vs Punisher
Fights Punisher, more or less to a stalemate. Then Punisher runs off.
In a rematch, she comes after him again, this time with the rest of the Avengers. Granted that Frank has taken some punishment himself by this point, but Natasha kicks him before he can draw his gun, then disarms him, smacks him around a bit, and uses her Bite to shoot first when he draws a pistol on her.
Beats "Hydra Punisher" in Secret Empire: dodges his shots, hits him twice and jumps off him, he shoots her, she misses with touch-Bite, he hits her with butt of gun, he kicks and misses, she kicks him, she disarms him, he grabs her by the neck and kicks her, she blocks his knives and kicks him, disarming him again, he grabs her foot and pushes her back, knocking her to the ground. He goes to get his gun and she picks up his knives and disables him by stabbing him in both legs (somehow getting in front of him in the process). In all, she strikes him 5 times, and he hits her 4 times, BEFORE she incaps him.
• Vs Crossbones
Black Widow vs Crossbones. Wins via using her Widow’s Line as a garrote.
• Vs Bucky and/or Hawkeye
Fighting Bucky: granted that he is not fighting to kill and it’s broken off quickly, but she fights well against him, getting in two kicks to one tackle. He says: “What I didn’t know is how much she’s been holding back when we spar, how strong she really is.” “She’s gonna take my head off if I’m not careful.” This makes clear three things: one, when she has sparred with Bucky in the past, she’s so good she felt the need to hold back so as to not hurt him (what other reason would she have for holding back during sparring?). Two, he’s impressed by her strength, making it clear she’s not just normal. Three, even if he’s not fighting with the intent to hurt her right now, she’s good enough that she could kill him anyway—thus it doesn’t matter what his fighting intent is.
Natasha beats on Bucky pretty much at will as Hawkeye watches. There's context here: Nat has been resurrected in a cloned body after Secret Empire, and Bucky and Clint are shocked to see her alive. She is annoyed that they are unknowingly messing up a plan of hers. She attacks Bucky to stop them from interfering, and he fights back defensively. She basically runs all over him: she hits him, he disarms her, then she gets in every hit after that: 3 hits to his face, pulls his hair, grabs him with her legs and kicks him into Clint. Then she takes off. Even with the context, this is all in her favor: she is more serious in her intent, but doesn't want to hurt them; they are stunned and don't want to hurt her, but clearly they don't want to be hurt themselves either, and Bucky is fighting defensively as hard as he can, as shown by the fact that he needs to ask Clint for help: "She's gonna kill me in a second if you don't stop her!" I added the final page for Bucky's line about how she had the drop on them.
Nat and Bucky fight on a boat. Neither of them gets any major hits in on the other. What's notable is that they fight pretty much as equals, and her signature balletic fighting style, where she looks like she's dancing as much as she's fighting.
• Nat beats Hawkeye, although this was part of a plan and was staged to some degree. (Although since she let him actually shoot her in the side with an arrow right after this, they may also have been fighting to the best of their abilities to sell the fight's reality.)
• Daredevil and Black Widow vs Kraven:
First Natasha and Matt fight fairly well against him; Kraven notes his superhuman speed and strength. However, Kraven tags her with a poison dart and then he knocks out Daredevil physically.
In the continuation, Kraven is about to throw Daredevil off a cliff. Black Widow is still affected by the poison, as noted in the captions. She jumps at Kraven, who throws Matt off the cliff. A bunch of cops attack, and distract Kraven while Natasha comes from behind and one-shots him with a kick, knocking him out. Even as she does this, she notes that she is still “weak as a kitten” from the poison. Kraven is pretty durable, even in this era, and hadn’t taken too much damage in the first part of the fight, so taking him down with one kick, even by surprise, is pretty impressive.
• Vs. Lady Bullseye. Overall, they basically tie:
In the first fight, Lady Bullseye gets in the majority of the hits and is about to stab Natasha when the fight is interrupted.
In the second fight, Black Widow jumps into a train with some kind of protective energy net and gets Lady Bullseye on the ground, more or less at her mercy, when the train goes into another dimension.
In that dimension, after an unknown amount of time (maybe immediately, maybe much later), Natasha has Lady Bullseye at her mercy at sword point before being interrupted by a monster.
• Vs. Mockingbird
Natasha is attacked by an out-of-control Mockingbird and defeats her pretty easily, kissing her with an antidote to the nanites that made her go crazy.
• Vs. Spider-man
The first time they meet. This fight is full of context; Spider-man was feeling beaten up and tired, and almost like he was losing his powers. Even with that, she gets in some decent shots, but runs off. This is honestly not her best showing but I figured it was worth seeing.
One-shots Spidey after putting him through some tests: Recently, an offshoot of SHIELD hires her to test Spider-man's Spider-sense for what she thinks are good reasons. After running him through a gauntlet of attacks, all of which he dodges (not shown), she blinds him with a light, then attacks him in hand-to-hand. He dodges 3 times, saying his spider-sense can compensate, but she hits him on the fourth try, hard enough to take him down so he can't fight back. This is the first time he's hit the whole time, so it's impressive that she one-shots him, considering his durability.
• Vs Silver Samurai
Black Widow and Spider-Man vs Silver Samurai. First, Samurai vs Spidey. Then Black Widow joins in to help. Note Samurai's clear strength and speed in beating Spider-Man, and his claim to beating Daredevil. Since her Bite is not enough to penetrate his armor, Natasha spends what must be about a quarter of an hour dodging Samurai's katana while Spider-Man is wedging up the building--very impressive dodging.
• Vs Imus Champion
Fights Imus Champion. His strength here is unclear; in the past he had an exoskeleton and could lift planes and fight whole teams of Avengers (here's him--using gear--to take out the Avengers; two hightlights include Thor and Power Princess). Now he seems to be strong and fast but not as much, with no exoskeleton. Dodges, kicks in groin, kicks in head, uses Widow’s Line to garrote. He punches back at her, she shoots at him in h head, she dodges multiple times before being grabbed. Takes out his eyes with her thumbs, slashes his gut, kicks in face, has him at gunpoint. Then chops throat, and basically curb stomps him. TD:LR--she takes out a weakened version of a team-buster.
• Vs Jean Grey, Psylocke, and Viper
• Vs Weeping Lion
Black Widow vs the Weeping Lion. The Lion was presented as a pretty tough guy, although more through reputation than feats. Here she beats him fairly easily. In particular note the use of a touch-based Widow’s Bite (clearly influenced by the movies) and again, incap via Widow’s Line. She also gets up with no problem after being smashed against a wall hard enough for it to crack.
• Vs Iron Scorpion
She attacks Iron Scorpion (this is interspersed with flashbacks about sniping a guy way earlier), breaks his leg, throws him into an oncoming truck. Iron Scorpion seems to be enhanced—he easily cuts through pistols (twice), a thick log, and other hard objects with his sword, and has uncanny accuracy as well, throwing a dart into her pistol barrel earlier: One, Two
• Vs Recluse
Natasha and Bucky fight Recluse, who was trained in an updated Red Room. Recluse is tough enough to have captured Bucky in the first place, and then to fight both Nat and Bucky to a draw. Some nice acrobatics and unusual weapons use from Nat, also noted under Bite below.
Natasha has a rematch against Recluse, who notes again that it took her and Bucky to fight her to a draw before. This time, Black Widow beats her. (She comes back from the waterfall later, but Nat clearly has her at a disadvantage here.) Also note impressive strength feat holding back against the waterfall, also noted under Strength below.
• Vs Snapdragon
Sometimes I see assertions that Snapdragon could beat Black Widow, or beat her a majority of times. Looking at their full set of fights makes it clear that in a straight fight, Black Widow wins.
First fight: Widow is ambushed in the dark by Snapdragon when Natasha’s Bite isn’t working. Snapdragon, who has IR goggles, only beats Natasha because Natasha can’t see to fight back.
Second “Fight”: Black Widow kicks a guy while tied, but is subdued by Snapdragon with a pole. Not exactly a real fight.
Third fight: Black Widow is disarmed by surprise, while Snapdragon has multiple weapons. Natasha dodges and strikes, but is hit back. Then Natasha gets in four unanswered strikes, ultimately knocking Snapdragon through a hole in the walkway for a conclusive win in their only straight fight.
• Vs Alexi/Red Guardian/Ronin
She beats Alexi, the former Red Guardian, now Ronin.
• Vs Enhanced-speed assassin
Fights an assassin with enhanced speed and another guy. Quickly takes guy out with thrown pipe, is first beaten down by speedster. Then knocks her out.
• Vs. a Crocodile
Nat is dragged under water for a significant amount of time, and kills the croc by hand. Also a nice feat of strength when she throws it in front of Danvers and Strange.
• Vs. at least 15 Guards
This sounds like just a fodder fight, but it is intense. She starts off with 2 swords and was just poisoned and tortured; they have guns. She takes them all out; the fight is notable for its brutality and targeted, skilled strikes.
• Vs Red Room Girls
Fights off six highly trained Red Room girls. Looking at the panels, she seems to defeat them without ever getting hit. However, she must have been hit to be hazy at the end. Various weapon uses also seen below.
• Vs. Group of "World's Deadliest Assassins"
Takes on a whole group of powered assassins while tied up. Starting off tied up, she kicks one lady, then another. Kicks a pot at guy to KO him, kicks another guy (basically one-shorting four people in a row), then has a longer fight with a sumo guy. Does more tied-up fighting, dodges a bullet so it hits the sumo guy, dodges even more while rolling on the ground toward the shooter and takes him out. Is freed by Iron Maiden, whose armor tanks her blast and almost beats her before being stopped by James Woo from SHIELD (and later Agents of Atlas). All together, even given that these gimmicky assassins are mostly featless, an impressive set of moves for someone tied up almost the whole time.
• Vs Drug-enhanced General
• Vs Hand
Way back in the day when the Hand was just being introduced, she fights well against several of them, dodging throwing stars and swords, and getting in 5 unanswered strikes before being caught by poisoned caltrops.
Nat's fighting style is naturally very gymnastic. She does all kinds of flips and jumps as an innate part of her fighting that simultaneously works both offense and defense, in an extremely balletic manner that combines her H2H and weapons, often gymnastically hitting multiple targets at once.
Techniques, often including neck strikes and multiple simultaneous targets:
• In a fairly common one-shot move for her, she chops two guys in the neck at once. A very effective move.
• While literally disintegrating due to poison, she neck strikes a guy. (Again, a bit of a signature move for her.)
• Neck chops a guy so devastatingly, her hand cuts open his throat (see the blood spatter).
• In a slight variation, but still showing her tendency to strike vulnerable areas, she hits another guy on the back of the neck.
• And does another of her "hit multiple people at once" attacks, following it up with a crazy acrobatic break-dance spin-kick.
• Viciously takes out some street fighters: breaks an arm, jumps out of the way of a blade so a bad guy gets stabbed instead; slices a guy's throat.
• Takes one guy’s eyes out while shooting another with Bite.
• While in the process of killing a bunch of mercs, she uses a nice, graceful move to kill one: swinging her body up and around him while holding on to his head, thus breaking his neck in the process.
• She repeats this move later in the issue, where she jumps up and swings her body around a guy, breaking his neck as she swings around.
• Takes out a bunch of guards, including throwing one over her back for a pretty good strength feat. She shoots a gun out of guy’s hand, uses a flash bomb, and shoots guy’s hand.
• She and Sharon Carter kick each other’s ropes off, which is presented as effortless and looks silly, but honestly would be really difficult to do.
• Knocks guy out by kicking handcuffs at his head, throat strikes two others (this is immediately after she had major surgery):
Examples of Acrobatic and Fast Fighting
• Multiple balletic kicks/flips, two against Bucky (one, two) and one against a random guard, and one that's a two-target upside-down double-split kick. You get the sense that she's fairly coordinated :)
• In an older issue, Spidey sneaks up on her, but she is able to react, grab, and throw him without him being to react back, even given his spider-sense. (Compare this example of his speed and reactions in the same issue.):
• Spider-man and Widow are surrounded by armed henchmen. Spidey runs off to defeat the Owl, and is gone only a very short time. Then he runs back, clearly believing there are a dangerously high number of guys to fight, since he says she "has her hands full." However, she has easily beaten them all, saying Spidey took too long coming back. I count at least 12 guys. These guys aren't particularly tough, what's impressive is the speed with which she beats them, and that Spidey considers them to be enough to be a challenge:
• Shoots Deadpool, incapacitating him until he's decapitated by another guy. (She's the blonde here.)
• Speed: Throws a knife so quickly it kills a guy before he hits a button. His hand is inches away before she even throws the knife.
Nat is a very accomplished sniper and all-around highly accurate shot.
• Shoots a thin string or rope three times. First, while riding a motorcycle, she shoots two strings that come out of a trick arrow from Hawkeye. Second, she shoots a thin rope that Hawkeye is walking on, from a fair distance. Third, she shoots Hawkeye's bow string, from a decent distance away again. Each is a very small target, under difficult circumstances.
• Daredevil calls Natasha one of the only three people who could have made a difficult shot, the others being Bullseye and Punisher.
• Daredevil knows what he's talking about: she shot him in the chest, almost killing him. Some context: he probably didn't dodge as much as he could have because he didn't think she was going to do it. BUT on the other hand, not only did she shoot him, she purposefully ricocheted the bullet off a rib so it didn't kill him.
• While tied up, she uses her legs to grab and manipulate a guy's arm so he first shoots another bad guy in the head, then in a second shot she uses her legs to make him shoot the small rope holding her up, while she's swinging on it. This is a CRAZY shot for her to make, using his arm/gun and only using her legs to target it.
In both these examples (one, two), shoots a gun out of a guy's hand while doing a complicated gymnastic activity (jumping in through a skylight and shooting in midair in one, flipping upside-down while dodging gunshots in the other).
• Shoots guy behind her without looking (here she has gone through surgery to look like Yelena Belova).
• Accurately shoots a small package of dynamite on a far-away ship. Despite its scope, this gun is not a style that is made for sniping.
GEAR/FEATS WITH GEAR
In addition to regularly carrying firearms and knives, which she is quite skilled with, Natasha also uses the following weapons:
Natasha often uses her Widow's Line (normally a grappling line) as a weapon for incapacitation or entangling.
• Uses Widow’s Line to trip soldiers:
• Uses Widow's Line to disarm Stilt Man.
• Uses Widow's Line to disarm Red Room girl.
• See fight with Crossbones (Line used for incap)
• Line used for incap against Weeping Lion (two pages edited together).
• See fight with Imus (Line used to garrote)
• Here she uses her Widow’s Line in two directions at once, disrupting the aim of an assassin and tying up her hand, and connecting the other end to a sign, pulling her off the car.
• Blasts two guys right next to her:
• Blasts armored foe and is amazed that she isn’t taken down, as her Bite is "enough to stop ten men."
• Blasts through the helmet of a Federal Dynamo, basically a lower-level Crimson Dynamo.
• She fights Ivan, now in a robot body that is called “indestructible.” ... She defeats him by blowing a giant hole in his chest with her Bite.
• Takes out dude in an exo-suit. How tough is this suit? Tough enough to require four sustained shots from Punisher's van's minigun to take the same amount of damage as in one Widow's Bite.
• She again destroys a handgun. Spidey notes, "that Widow's Bite of yours is something else!" :)
• Multiple point-blank blasts, often to the face: one, two, three, four, five, six and seven, eight. (In one, she notes how she helped write the SHIELD handbook on fighting.) Plus once to Hawkeye; that was part of a plan they made and may have been staged, but it still shows how point-blank attacks are a tactic). The Bite is a good ranged weapon, but is also a bonus to her H2H combat. Note that these blasts are different from her touch-based attach, which is shown farther below.
• Here, she uses it sort of like an unconnected taser dart, creating an electric shock, and here, like a classic taser, shooting out a line running electric current along it. It's sort of like a mix of her Line and her Bite.
Gas—both Widow’s Kiss and Gas Bombs
She has used many kinds of bombs, hidden in her uniform in many locations. Back in the day, she uses a micro-bomb hidden underneath her thumbnail:
• She uses some small spherical bombs to blow up the wall of a helicarrier.
• Uses a time-delayed belt bomb.
• She also uses a slingshot bomb.
• Exudes some kind of blinding oil from her gloves or gauntlets:
• Shoots what seems to be a power-disruption dart—in any case it’s some kind of dart that ends up disrupting the power:
• Pulls a gas mask up out of her suit's collar.
• Uses her gauntlets to open an electronic lock.
• Uses a tool in her wristlets to start a car.
• Uses a laser-cutter.
• Gauntlet has a flare (also an example of durability, in swimming underwater in arctic temperatures with no problem).
• Gauntlet has a homing signal.
• Here she has claws.
• She wears armored gloves even while in civilian clothes, enabling her to catch a knife.
• Natasha’s suit has suction cups that allow her to stick to walls. A couple examples of sticking to walls even in her first costume, and her first appearance in her now-standard black catsuit. Also does it recently. A variant explanation: it's "electro-molecular adhesers!"
Natasha is noted for her graceful agility, and is an extremely effective dodger. Also note some examples under FIGHTING SKILLS where she knocks away guns that are shooting at her from point blank range.
Numerous instances of dodging guns and other attacks, often machine gun fire, often from very close range. Note the grace with which she dodges--it's not hard for her to do this. In a couple examples her hair is blonde (this is when she was disguised as Yelena Belova):
Guns and Arrows
• While she is mind-controlled, she dodges a bunch of close-range shots from Bucky. As it says, he's not trying to hit her, more herd her in a direction, but his comment about "she's too fast" implies that he probably couldn't hit her regardless. Also note the comment about her grace in dodging. And, she's playing him by actually dodging in the direction she wants to go. Slightly after he throws a knife and she dodges that too.
• Dodges three shots from Punisher.
• From a point-blank handgun.
• From multiple guns.
• Dodges Federal Dynamo's multiple close-range rapid-fire blasts.
• Dodges Hawkeye’s net arrow at point blank range (however this was part of a plan with Hawkeye and may have been staged)
• She fights Ivan. She dodges his point-blank gatling-style laser blasts.
• Gymnastically dodges multiple energy blasts from a robot.
• Dodges energy beams from Carol Danvers, among others, while simultaneously shooting two targets.
• Gymnastically dodges a giant robot arm.
• While fighting an alternate-dimension counterpart of herself, she dodges Cap's thrown shield three times, and Cap comments, "Damn, she's fast."
Some Pure Agility
• Natasha often randomly throws in acrobatic flips and leaps that are beyond what is necessary to get from one place to another, as seen in the fifth panel here.
• Drives a car on an overpass above the car she is chasing, leaps out of her car, off the bridge, and onto the speeding car below, in a feat of both timing and agility, then manages to stay on the hood of the speeding, swerving car with only her feet—no hands. This is totally beyond human ability.
• Jumps from a ridiculous height into water tower.
• Casually runs along a wire that is high above the city.
• A crazily high flip while fighting (upper right-hand corner).
• Jumps out of a Helicarrier. This is interesting to compare with Elektra’s jump out of a helicarrier. Before this, she steals some stuff from SHIELD, and fights past a bunch of agents. Then, as shown here, she blows up the wall with some bombs and jumps out with no path for survival. SHIELD agents follow in a flying car and jetpacks. In the air, she maneuvers herself into the car and ejects the drive. Then she ties one of the jetpack guys to the car, which falls. She pretends that she’s scared so one jetpack guy grabs her, then steal his pack. When the agent blows up her pack, she falls safely on a car and drives away on a stolen motorcycle. As the agent says, “she turns a 40,000 foot fall into a ballet.” It is impressive to have made the jump without knowing for sure what would happen, but more so it is the grace with which she did it—doing something with grace like that makes it clear how easy it is for her.
Weirdly I haven't collected more examples of this.
• There are so many examples of infiltration, I'm just showing this one example where she quickly infiltrates the new Red Room.
• Her white suit is invisible to cameras.
• After Spider-man sneaks up on her in one issue, she later sneaks up on him, and is able to tap him on the shoulder simultaneously with his spider-sense going off, and before he can react (also notable because when he sneaks up on her, she is able to grab and throw him, while when she sneaks up on him, he just flips away instead of being able to counterattack).
As seen below, Natasha has some pretty solid blunt force durability with multiple falls from a great distance, and some excellent pain tolerance. It is almost a trope now for her to let herself get tortured to get some information from the tormentors, then to break out and kill them, as if prolonged torture was nothing.
• See fight with Weeping Lion (smashed against wall, no pain)
• Stays awake during major abdominal surgery without anesthesia. She can’t move at all or they’ll nick her organs. This is a crazy display of pain tolerance and body control:
• This is a great scene not only for durability but also fighting style: she lets herself get beat up for a while, then takes out the guards while still tied up.
• She takes a knife in the shoulder to avoid worse injury; she has a bit of a history of doing this—stoically accepting an injury for tactical reasons.
• Intentionally takes a bullet in the shoulder to kick a guy; and then falls many stories to the street and is basically fine.
• Waterboarded, and is fine (also remembers other examples of torture). Beats the guy up right after.
• Is unusually tolerant of poisons.
• During Elektra’s first attempted resurrection, Natasha fights some Hand, taking an arrow in the shoulder without a peep (she does turn out to be pretty injured later, but in the moment, completely ignores it)
• Survives lengthy fall into water.
• Falls an enormous height out of building, bounces off sign and hits car, and is basically fine.
• After asking Hawkeye to shoot her in the side with a 3-bladed broadhead arrow, she is still able to agilely jump off a roof.
The Soviet Super Soldier formula gives her a “ramped up immune and cell repair system.” Her “wounds heal four, maybe five times as fast as a normal human’s would. [She doesn’t] hardly get sick, [she doesn’t] age as fast.” This immune system works so well that it sees a fetus as a disruption and miscarries it.
• Stabs a fat guy and lifts him up at the end of a pole and tosses him:
• Holds on to a staff against a raging waterfall with one arm. (Last few pages in the scan) With this amount of water, the power of the flow would be incredibly strong, it would be very hard to hold on here.
• Grabs a fat guy and throws him out of a car window, mostly with one hand.
• See also Bucky comment about not realizing her strength.
• Two examples of hanging off the side of a building--once just using her arm to hold on, once while holding her line and wedging herself against the building. This looks easy but would take decent grip and arm strength.
• Jumps off the side of a boat and grabs onto a port-hole ledge, arresting quite a bit of momentum with just small finger-holds in that move. Then she holds herself up with one arm for a while.
• In this fight with guards she threw a guy over her back, not really seeming to use martial arts/leverage to do it.
These are only a few representative examples. Black Widow is noted for long-term strategies and cons, and for breaking into challenging locations.
• Outsmarts Tony Stark. Stark is after her for kidnapping the guy who helped him first build the Iron Man suit when she was much younger. She plays on Stark’s weaknesses by using a fake phone call and make up, then KOs him and breaks into his computer system (and steals some of his tech, not shown here).
• Absurd prep—has fake skin on her back to cover a bow and arrow. Fingernail has electric charge (or something) to blow up plastic explosive. Also one-shots a mind-controlled Ivan.
• And she did the same thing earlier--she has a kit for a field disruptor rifle under a false back.
• She passes a lockpick to Daredevil via a kiss...which he then realizes she kept in her stomach.
• The entire plot of one miniseries is that she was willing to have painful plastic surgery done on her to look like Yelena Belova, and then have the surgery reversed after finishing the con. This is, just to point out, crazy! Then she does it again, this time using a drug.
• Works with Punisher to make complicated plan to fake Frank's death, where she shoots him off the side of a building, where he is caught by Ghost Rider.
• Vassily, who is connected to the Red Room, is repeatedly referred to as being tough, and in his one feat catches a thrown knife and then two-shots a trained assassin. They fight. He has a pheromone scent that Black Widows can’t fight against. He hits her four times (two was enough to take out the other assassin). But, she calculates that by letting him break her nose and fill her throat with blood, she won’t smell the pheromone. Then she gets up and two-shots him.
STATS, RED ROOM CONDITIONING, THE SOVIET SUPER-SOLDIER SERUM, AND HER AGE
Stats: Intelligence 3 (learned), Strength 3 (peak human: lift twice body weight), Speed 2 (normal—“the ability to move over land by running or flight—next level, 3, is up to 700mph), Durability 3 (enhanced), energy projection 3 (short range and duration, single energy type), fighting skills 6 (master of several forms of combat).
Black Widow has kept her youth due to multiple treatments from the Soviet government, which also increased her physical stats, including strength, speed, and durability ("Government treatments slowed her aging, augmented her immune system and enhanced her durability”).
The Red Room physically and mentally conditioned the 28 Black Widows (of which Natasha was only one) in their youth in various ways:
• The Red Room conditioning gives her a “ramped up immune and cell repair system.” Her “wounds heal four, maybe five times as fast as a normal human’s would. [She doesn’t] hardly get sick, [she doesn’t] age as fast.” This immune system works so well that it sees a fetus as a disruption and miscarries it.
• They physically conditioned them to react to a pheromonal scent that locks into her biology. She is unable to fight or even disobey someone with it. This is how Nick Fury got her to defect. (However, see her fight with Vassily on how she can overcome it.)
• They also implanted false memories, such as of her training as a ballerina. These memories were unstable, and when asked directly by Red Guardian, she was unable to give a consistent answer. If a Black Widow tries to think directly about the memories, they get physically ill.
Soviet Super-Soldier Serum: The Winter Soldier, who worked for the Soviets at the time, also provided Natasha and her caregiver Ivan with a formula which expanded their life-spans and also healed him enough to recover from a mortal injury. This was in 1956. It is unclear if this serum is in addition to, or the same as, the treatment the other Widow trainees received.
As I mentioned while discussing her resurrection by the Hand many years ago, she could have arguably gotten some of her physical enhancement from that as well.
Age: How old is Natasha? Deadly Origin shows her as an infant in 1928, and says she is 29 in 1957, which would also imply a 1928 birth year. The Avengers Roll Call handbook backs this up and says she was born around 1928. This is also supported by a plethora of stories, such as Uncanny X-men 268, a flashback where Captain America and Wolverine meet Natasha during World War II in 1941, when they were all alive (Natasha would have been, and looked approximately, 13).
However, in The Things They Say About Her (published before Deadly Origin), Yelena Belova says Nat is "nearly 40" (she would actually be 77 at the time TTTSAH was published) and that Yelena herself is "not yet 30." It is unlikely that Yelena would be so unaware of the history of the Black Widow program since she graduated from a later iteration. Perhaps we may take this to mean that Natasha looked like she was almost 40.
However, after the 2015 Secret War in which reality was rebooted, the Mark Waid/Chris Samnee Black Widow volume implies she is actually much younger. Natasha kills the uncle of a boy who later became the Weeping Lion when both she and the boy were children. Since the Weeping Lion seems to be a normal adult age, this is problematic. Further, only "several years ago," according to a caption, she captured Yinsen and brought him into captivity. Yinsen is the man who later helped Tony Stark build his first Iron Man armor when they were both captives. Natasha looks like a young woman in this story, which means that she is actually younger than Tony Stark at the time. The letters page in issue 8 takes on this confusion. It says she is 88 years old (at the time of the volume in 2016, thus a birth year of 1928), but then notes that there are some problems with how her age is portrayed in the story, and that they care more about the story than the math. It suggests a few possible solutions, such as that the Weeping Lion could have also had enhanced age, but basically leaves it open. The letters page to issue 10 follows up on this: a letter writer suggests that it was the reality-altering aspects of the Secret War that changed the timeline, and the editor gave him a No-Prize for the idea, seemingly endorsing the concept. The letters page in issue 11 continues the discussion, implying that it is not clear exactly when in her life she was in the Red Room.
WILLINGNESS TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES
Nat fights and kills pretty viciously under the right circumstances.
• Crushes a guy's head in a car door:
• While she was working as an assassin for the Soviets, she not only killed a good friend of hers in cold blood because those were her orders, she then proceeded to kill their cat just to tie up loose ends!
• Cuts a guy's arms off as revenge for what he did to a girl.
• Intentionally has Hawkeye shoot her in the side with a 3-bladed broadhead arrow, clearly causing significant damage, in order to fulfill a plan.
• Callous enough to assassinate a guy who did her wrong in cold blood. He's not expecting this at all, or aware of what's going on. She just walks up and drops a grenade in his lap.
• Ruthless: forces a guy to jump off a high tower at gunpoint, breaking many bones, then threatens to let wild dogs eat him (and does actually let them start to visciously chew on his leg).
• She promised two guys that they wouldn’t walk again, so after she beats them and the one guy is just lying on the ground unconscious, she breaks his back with a pressure point (which was completely unnecessary).
• Trains the Champions in “ethical adjustments” which are so hard core she makes them cry just by talking.
• Is interrogated by a man using hallucinogenic drugs. When she used these same drugs on him, he went nearly insane and gave up everything he knew, and kept having flashbacks much later. While it affects her strongly on the inside, she resists it unlike anyone else ("I've never seen resistance like this"), and is in fact able to act completely conscious soon after (and then get in a big fight).
• Good at disguise. Tricks Taskmaster, even though he can read movements, plus, knows that by wearing an eyepatch, no one can recognize her ;)
• Spits in a guy’s face, manipulating him into reacting in such a way that he drops a needle exactly where she can grab it and unlock the cuffs. Incredible timing, accuracy, and intuition, not to mention needles aren’t great for lock picking.
• She was resurrected by the Chaste after being killed by the Hand’s disintegrating poison. Sometimes people resurrected by the Hand in a similar manner have increased physical stats; this, in addition to her Super Soldier Serum, may explain her stats:
• Wolverine thinks it’s a joke that he’s supposed to be her protector; obviously he thinks she can take care of herself better than he can take care of her:
• Wolverine is cautious enough about her reactions to stay out of arm’s reach when she wakes up unexpectedly.
• She is described as “running circles around men and women who possess ten times her strength”
• Fighting SHIELD and Nick Fury. She breaks an agent’s neck and disarms him in one move. In fighting Fury, an agent says, “this is the Black Widow we’re talking about. There was never any questions about whether she’d get the upper hand, just how long it’d take her.”
• A Federal Dynamo, basically a low-level Crimson Dynamo, knows she's going to toast him as soon as he runs into her.
• This is more her own self-assessment, and certainly imbued with class Stan Lee hyperbole, but she describes herself as having "powers enough to be a challenge to Iron Man."