Avengers: Age of Ultron is well on its way to crushing box office stats and records. And, thanks to the size and anticipation of the film's release, there's been a lot of coverage of basically every little thing said by each and every Avengers actor. One of the biggest pieces of news to come out of the Avengers: Age of Ultron press tour is the comments made by Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans about the Avengers character Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson. The actors were asked what they thought about fans 'shipping the Black Widow — aka Natasha — with many of the other Avengers. In response, the actors jokingly called her a "slut" and a "whore." While the jokes and name-calling are pretty stupid and have (rightfully) outraged many fans, there is one point that needs to be brought up about this whole mess: Black Widow's love life. Who does Black Widow actually date in the comics?
In the comics, Black Widow has in fact had her fair share of romances from Hercules to Daredevil. But, instead of calling her a slut, whore or even a flirt, why can't we all just understand that she's like any other person when it comes to romance? Many people date more than one person in their lifetime. Many people get married more than once in their lifetime. There doesn't have to be any negative connotation to this. So who has Black Widow dated in the comics?
Natasha was once married to a man named Alexei Shostakov while she was still an operative in Russia. Unfortunately, Natasha was told Alexei had died — in reality, his death was faked so he could become a spy — and Natasha decided to become a spy herself in honor of her "late" husband.
After Natasha came to the United States, she dated Hawkeye aka Clint Barton for quite a while. In fact, Clint actually proposed to Natasha and she seriously considered marrying Clint — especially after he almost died and she had to consider a life without him. But, in the end, she decided to break up with Clint and start a solo career as a vigilante.
At this point, Natasha ran into Daredevil, aka Matt Murdock. The two worked together for a while — Natasha even helped save Matt from The Owl — and then they fell for each other. Their working relationship became so strong that Matt even broke up with Karen Page to be with Natasha. The two decided to move to San Francisco to start fighting crime there as vigilantes together. However, during their run as a crime-fighting duo, Natasha started to feel as though Matt didn't take her skills into consideration and even did not think of her as an equal. She decided to leave him but to stay in California to join a new team, which included a few former X-Men. At one point, Natasha also date Hercules, but it really wasn't as big of a deal as the other romantic interests in her life.
One of Natasha's strongest relationships was with Bucky Barnes. Yes, the same Bucky Barnes who became the Winter Soldier. During the course of the Civil War comic book storyline (which we will all see unfold next year in Captain America: Civil War), it is revealed that Natasha and Bucky actually had a relationship when both were training to be operatives. When Bucky later becomes Captain America (long story that I just don't have the heart to reveal guys), he and Natasha date again for quite a while before things end once more.
There are also two alternate universes where Natasha dates both Count Otto Von Doom, aka the bad guy from The Fantastic Four series, as well as Tony Stark. Yup, that's right. Tony Stark. She and Tony even get engaged, but she is later revealed to be a traitor to the Avengers and is killed by Hawkeye. Thankfully, it doesn't seem like the Marvel filmmakers will be adding that storyline in — at least I hope not.
But, in the end, why does it really matter who the Black Widow dates? The thing that bugs me the most about her relationship story lines is the fact that they seem to appear out of nowhere. We never really get to see the build-up of her and Bruce's relationship in the films. We don't see real attraction, and we see very little flirting until all of a sudden they supposedly clearly like each other in Age Of Ultron.
I'm not asking for a Black Widow rom-com like Saturday Night Live so brilliantly parodied. That would be obnoxious. But if there has to be a clear relationship formed between Natasha and Bruce, there should be an explanation as to why. Also, we should just get a standalone Black Widow film already, amirite?
Images: Marvel Films; Giphy