Major MCU Callbacks in ‘Black Widow’

Natasha, Alexei and Yelena in "Black Widow"

Marvel Studios Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian (David Harbour) and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) in "Black Widow"

With the official release of “Black Widow,” the movie portion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four is finally here.

The movie brings the final appearance of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff, who first appeared in 2010’s “Iron Man 2,” and introduces Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova — in addition to numerous other characters new to the MCU. Given Natasha’s sacrifice in “Avengers: Endgame” for the Soul Stone, the film visits parts of her past that had yet to be told by Marvel Studios.

With the rewind in time, the movie answers questions that have lingered for years while also referencing previous events from the Infinity Saga.

Spoilers ahead for “Black Widow.”

Here are some of the biggest MCU callbacks in Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow”:


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The Red in Natasha’s Ledger

In “The Avengers,” Natasha takes the time to have a one-on-one chat with Loki while he is locked in the cell on the Helicarrier. One of the things she tells him is “I’ve got red in my ledger. I’d like to wipe it out.” The statement refers to the deaths she caused and bad things she did as a member of the Red Room — Loki even specifically mentions Dreykov’s daughter to Natasha during their conversation — and the same wording comes into play again during “Black Widow.”

Following the successful attempt at breaking Alexei out of prison, their helicopter crashes after running out of fuel on the way to St. Petersburg, Russia. This forces Natasha, Yelena and Alexei to walk the rest of the way. But before they get further into their journey, Alexei takes a moment to tell his daughters that he’s proud of them — only after wanting to talk about himself.

He commends the abundance of kills they have amounted to over the years and proudly says, “Your ledgers must be dripping, just gushing red.” However, neither Natasha nor Yelena can believe the honor Alexei sees in the fact they were both trained to be among the world’s best assassins from a young age. They resent it and the toll it has taken on their lives.


Budapest

Nearly a decade has passed since the MCU introduced the friendship between Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton in “The Avengers.”

Natasha’s first scene in “The Avengers” shows that her relationship with Clint is deep, meaningful and important. When fan favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson calls Natasha to tell her about a new mission she is needed on, she insists she’s busy with her current one. But once Coulson mentions that “Barton’s been compromised,” she unquestionably shifts her focus and is on her way to help.

Later on in the film, Clint and Natasha are working together during the Battle of New York. Natasha says to Clint in the midst of the fight, “Just like Budapest all over again” — to which Clint responds, “You and I remember Budapest very differently.” Budapest comes up again in “Avengers: Endgame” when the duo are traveling to Vormir, as Clint says, “We’re a long way from Budapest.”

In “Black Widow,” we find out what happened in Budapest.

Natasha’s final mission before becoming a full-fledged S.H.I.E.L.D. agent was to defeat General Dreykov, the man in charge of the Red Room. By bombing the building he was in, she (supposedly) kills him and proves her allegiance to S.H.I.E.L.D. But the bombing also involved (again, supposedly) killing Dreykov’s young daughter, Antonia, and Natasha has to live with that guilt.

Following the bombing, 10 days pass till Natasha and Clint are able to leave Budapest. The pair spends two of those days hiding out in a ceiling vent located in one of the subway stations.

Natasha and Yelena spend a bit of time in that same vent following a chase with Taskmaster. A couple of games of tic-tac-toe and a few games of Hangman can be seen on the vent’s walls — presumably remnants from Clint and Natasha’s time there.

In the Budapest safe house where Natasha and Yelena first reunite, Yelena asks what kind of bullets leave the particular kinds of holes that were left in the wall. Natasha informs her the holes were actually created by arrows, implying that it was Clint’s doing.


The Nano Mask

The first time the nano mask is seen in the MCU, it is used by none other than Natasha Romanoff in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Natasha uses the spy tool, which is also sometimes known as a photostatic veil, to disguise herself as Councilwoman Hawley of the World Security Council during a visit to see Secretary Alexander Pierce at the Triskelion.

Natasha uses the nano mask again in “Black Widow” when she switches places with Melina prior to going to the Red Room. The two women switch outfits and each use a nano mask to disguise themselves as the other. This allows Natasha to easily get a visit with Red Room leader General Dreykov and eventually gain access to the control over the Black Widow program.

Before “Black Widow,” the nano mask was last used by Sharon Carter in “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” and it has also been used on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”


Yelena’s Vest

Chronologically speaking, Yelena’s vest is first seen in “Black Widow.” She raves about it not only being the first piece of clothing she has ever bought for herself — a choice she got to make herself for once — but also the amount of pockets it has. Natasha briefly teases her about it but admits she likes the clothing item.

It’s this exchange that prompts Yelena to give the vest to Natasha at the end of the film when Natasha stays behind to take on Secretary Ross while Yelena, Melina and Alexei go off with the remaining members of the Red Room’s Black Widow program. But it’s not the first time the vest has been seen in the MCU.

In “Avengers: Infinity War,” Natasha is seen wearing Yelena’s vest during the Battle of Wakanda, which Scarlett Johansson confirmed to Screen Rant.

The vest is also worn over what appears to be Melina’s black suit, which Natasha changes into prior to going to the Red Room disguised as Melina in “Black Widow.”


The Quinjet

The sight of a Quinjet will excite any S.H.I.E.L.D. fan. But it was particularly nice for Natasha to see.

In the pre-credits scene of “Black Widow,” Mason, the friend who had been helping Natasha while on the run, somehow acquired a Quinjet for her to use. It was his way of not only helping her but proof that he could acquire high-quality items when given the time — unlike the dilapidated helicopter used to break Alexei out of prison.

Natasha, who is sporting the blonde short hair seen in “Infinity War” at the end of her titular film, presumably uses the Quinjet to first find an on-the-run Steve Rogers.

At the end of “Captain America: Civil War,” Steve is seen in the Raft prison, there to rescue Sam Wilson and the rest of his Avengers peers who were arrested for breaking the Sokovia Accords. The first scene in “Infinity War” with Natasha is of her with Steve and Sam, helping Vision and Wanda Maximoff following an attack from the Children of Thanos. They then all use the Quinjet to head back to the Avengers headquarters in upstate New York.

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