and if it fits in the MCU
As we head into the final installment of the MCU?s Phase three with Captain Marvel and Avengers 4 and head into the unknown that is Phase four, I think it is time to introduce the MCU audience to the story of Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff) and The Winter Solider (James ?Bucky? Barns). Most of you know these characters are two of Captain America?s most loyal teammates and are always on his side (when Bucky knows who he is at least). But, who were they before they met Captain America?
Some of you may have already noticed a few similarities between the two characters. They are both Russian (Natasha is actually Russian and Bucky was found by Russians at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger) and earned their reptuation by working for the same side (Natasha worked for the Red Room and KGB in Russia and Bucky became the Winter Solider for Hyda). They have a similar fighting style and Natasha seems to know a lot about who Bucky was, hense being the audience and Steve?s way into the story in Captain America: The Winter Soilder. Which brings me to the question: What is their history? Do they even have a history?
After a few months of research, the answer is a simple: yes. But to my surprise, these two have a much deeper history than I expected to find.
As usual with comics, there are several incarnations of comic book stories with these characters. So it really depends on the volume you read (or look up). But in most of the comics that include both Black Widow and the Winter Soilder, they share a romantic bond. It?s a strong relationship, a deep relationship, and after reading some comics myself, a beautiful relationship.
The relationship between The Winter Solider and Black Widow dates all the way back to the Cold War in the Soviet Union where Bucky was actually Natasha?s trainer (in the comics, Natasha was born in 1928 and injected with the super serum) in the Red Room. During this time, Bucky was merely ?Soilder? and was brought to the Red Room to train students and turn them hopefully, into Black Widows. It is here that Natasha, who went by Natalia at the time, and Bucky formed a romance and showed each other that they were more than weapons for a country and realized that they were able to live free lives.
Evidentially they got caught and were both punished. It depends on the versions how and when it happens. In some stories, they work in the field together as partners (which is where their relationship grows) and some, it doesn?t. But once they get captured, in different versions, one of them gets brainwashed (in the Red Room, both Natasha and Bucky were brainwashed countless times and Natahsa was implanted false memories to guarntee her loyalty to the Red Room and USSR). At some point, Natasha gets recruited by Hawkeye, who helps her break her psychological conditioning at the time, and joins SHIELD.
The story of Black Widow and the Winter Solider is a tragic one. It revolves around two people who were taken at vulnerable times in their lives and were unwillingly sculpted into villians. Their lives (especially Natasha?s) revolved around lying, deception, brainwashing, and false memories. As soon as these two try to get the other person to remember who they are and what they mean to each other, they are taken away again. A character is forced to watch the person they love not know who they are as their entire past is washed away by the people who created them. Throughout a majority of their stories, they are constantly trying to gain independence, will, and freedom and only the other can relate to the horror that?s been their lives.
?Soilder? training Natalia/Natasha in the Red Room (Nat is around 30 here)
The story of Natasha and Bucky has slowly been introduced in the MCU. An example is that Natasha is the only character that knows about the Winter Solider in CAWS. She knows who he is, he?s moves, how to out smart him (as if she did this before. It is common for the Red Room/Hydra to test their brainwashing by putting them up agaist each other. When one knew who the other was and the other had no idea and saw them as a target) and warms Steve about who he is and that he?s a hopeless cause. Showing us that there is a history between these two characters that we didn?t see.
Quotes from Captain America: The Winter Solider
“Going after him is a dead end. I know. I?ve tried?
(CAMERA ON NAT) STEVE: ?He looked right at me, and he didn?t even know me? NAT: ?None of that is your fault Steve?
NAT GIVES STEVE BUCKY?S FILE FROM RUSSIA ?Be careful Steve. You might not want to pull on that thread?
This characterization also expanded in Captain America: Civil War as Natasha, once again, warns Steve that he is fighting a worthless cause with Bucky.
?I know how much Barnes means to you. I really do.?
And the only form of communication Natasha and Bucky have in the MCU is her begging him to remember her.
And at the end of the film, we learn that Bucky has a thing for redheads
STEVE: ?You blew three bucks trying to win that stuffed bear for a redhead?
BUCKY: ?What was her name again??
So, will this relationship ever make it into the MCU? It?s hard to tell. Again, we don?t know what lies ahead in Phase Four and who will or not be involved. Not to mention that there was zero interaction between these two characters in Infinity War (but a deleted scene).The choices the Russo Brother?s (who directed Captain America: The Winter Soilder, Captian America: Civil War, Infinity War, and Avengers 4) made are extremely subtle (and includes a LOT of delated scenes that pertain to these two characters) and if they do introduce this couple, it would be the slowest burn/buildup a cinematic couple would ever have.
Winter Solider Brainwashing
But one must remember we are dealing with characters who physically can?t remember their past. After all the different incarnations these characters have had in the last 40 years, brainwashing and false memories have always played an integral part in their story. But even if Natasha is the one to remember everything in the MCU (as opposed to to Bucky remembering in the Brubaker stories which Kevin Feigue has said is influential in the MCU), she could also be (and probably is) conditioned to not being able to remember the whole truth. This could be a reason the audience doesn?t know a lot about Natasha, becuase she?s an unreliable source. She?s simply incapable of remembering. Her body forbids it (after decades of brainwashing and false memories). She only remembers what the Red Room wants to remember.
Black Widow Brainwashing
But then again, Avengers 4 is around the corner and who knows what?s going to happen there. The future for the MCU is a big mystery for us. What we do know is that we are getting a Black Widow solo movie in 2020 but sources say it will be a prequel to Iron Man 2. This could mean we could see what actually happened in the Red Room (a clear narrative, no brainwashing) and her journey to becoming a member of SHIELD. Could The Winter Solider appear in the Black Widow movie? Possibly. It would make sense and is a totally possibility. But Marvel is keeping their lips sealed when it comes to this film so we don?t know who is involved in the film besides Scarlett Johansson.
So, only time will tell if we will ever see what happened between these Soviet Slugs and if they will ever come back to each other on the big screen.
As for me, I personally hope they find their way back to each other becuase, these two have suffered enough.