Black Widow — real name Natasha Romanoff — is a trained assassin hero who has been a member of the Avengers team since, really, the beginning. We know she sacrifices herself to allow the Avengers to receive the Soul Stone to defeat Thanos. And we know she has a history of being a trained assassin in Russia. But we don’t know anything about her family, previous relationships or life outside of the Avengers.
Now, we do. The new “Black Widow” movie gives us our first glimpse at Black Widow’s past and how she was raised, as well as a deep dive into what motivates her to save the world. It’s a brilliant film that gives us insight into one of the only major MCU heroes who didn’t previously have their own film.
Ahead of the new film’s debut on July 9, here’s a list of films and Marvel series you should watch before seeing “Black Widow” to have proper context for the new movie.
The official ‘Black Widow’ movie marathon — 17 hours, 16 minutes
“Iron Man 2 ” (2010) — 2 hours, 4 minutes
Black Widow makes her introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in “Iron Man 2.” She appears, at first, to be a romantic interest for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). But we later learn that is a part of the Avengers Initiative, and she has a talent for fighting and martial arts. She’s a trained killer with an eye on helping save the world. Before we see where she came from, it’s important to know who she was at the start of all of this.
“The Avengers” (2012) — 2 hours, 24 minutes
This is where we really see the strength of Black Widow. Unlike her male counterparts, she didn’t get her own solo film. So we still don’t know much about her. But it’s in “The Avengers” we see how she interacts with the group for the first time, and we really start to understand her as a hero. She’s more than a trained assassin. She’s a member of the team. It’s important to see her role as an Avenger before seeing “Black Widow” so you know who she is and how she acts as a fighter.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014) — 2 hours, 16 minutes
Black Widow gets a significant amount of screentime in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” She works with Steve Rogers and the SHIELD agency to take down a conspiracy theory about SHIELD and Hydra. They also enlist the help of the Falcon (Sam Wilson) in their fight. Like her appearance in “Iron Man 2,” we see Black Widow help Captain America, aiding him in his quest to figure out the truth. This just shows, once more, how Black Widow can be a glue for the entire Avengers squad.
“Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015) — 2 hours, 22 minutes
“Age of Ultron” shows us interactions between Black Widow and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), as well as with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). These moments give us a good insight to how she treats other people and who she is from an emotional standpoint. It’s definitely a good look at her Avengers life, which comes into play throughout “Black Widow.” We also see the established Avengers team in this movie, which factors in down the road.
“Captain America: Civil War” (2016) — 2 hours, 28 minutes
“Civil War” really sets the stage for where we’re going in “Black Widow.” We see the breakup of the Avengers, which puts Natasha on her course to meet up with her family in “Black Widow.” In truth, “Civil War” gives us an entire outlook on what to expect from Natasha in the new movie. If you had to pick only one MCU film to watch ahead of “Black Widow,” this would be it.
“Avengers: Infinity War” (2018) — 2 hours, 40 minutes
I love the idea of watching “Infinity War” now because it’s almost a sequel to “Black Widow.” We see what happens to Natasha after the events of “Black Widow” and where she goes next, which includes a battle with Thanos. So if you’re wondering where Black Widow will be after “Black Widow,” this is your best bet.
“Avengers: Endgame” (2019) — 3 hours, 2 minutes
By now, you know what happens to Natasha in this film. She falls to her death, sacrificing herself so that the Avengers can collect the Soul Stone. It’s a beautiful moment and will only be given more context to her mindset and beliefs ahead of “Black Widow.” It’s fascinating to consider where she ended up before seeing where she was (since “Black Widow” takes place before “Endgame.”)
Extra credit — 6 hours, 30 minutes
“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (2020) — 4 hours, 25 minutes
There are a lot of similar vibes between “TFATWS” and “Black Widow,” so that alone makes it worth watching ahead of this movie. You can also understand more about the Super Soldier Serum, the way Captain America was seen throughout history and identify some Easter eggs that could pop up in “Black Widow.”
“Captain Marvel” (2019) — 2 hours, 5 minutes
“Captain Marvel” was the first solo female-centric Marvel film, so it’s worth checking out that film before you see “Black Widow.” But there’s also a scene with Black Widow in this movie. She appears during the end credits as the Avengers prepare to fix the damage done by Thanos in “Infinity War.”