black widow backstory

Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow has yet to get her own movie and probably never will, but by this point we’ve picked up enough bits and pieces about her past to know it was a dark one. Avengers: Age of Ultron gave us our best look yet at the Red Room that shaped her, while the Black Widow storyline in Agent Carter offered further insight into the program.

And it looks like we almost got even more of the Black Widow backstory in Captain America: Civil War. A scene from the film’s junior novelization reveals an especially harrowing incident in Natasha’s past. Basically, however depressing and terrible you thought her early years were, her actual childhood was so much worse

Movie Pilot got their hands on the Captain America: Civil War junior novelization, which includes an interesting exchange.

Natasha studied Cap’s expression of resolve. Finally, she said, “In Russia, in the Red Room, there were dozens of us. All girls, all young. We lived together. They let us be friends. Then they dropped us in the tundra, two weeks’ walk from home, with just enough supplies for one of us to survive.”

Cap looked at her, understanding her meaning.

“Don’t let them push us into the cold,” she said.

That is some Hunger Games-level shit right there, and that was just for training. It helps explain Natasha’s extreme proficiency and her reserved yet fearless personality, as well as some of her guilt and self-loathing. If she had to kill her childhood friends to survive, well, that should tell you a lot about how messed-up her life has been. It also adds some depth to her role as the de facto peacekeeper in Civil War — she’s seen what happens when friends turn on each other, and isn’t eager to relive it.

While we don’t know much about Natasha’s early childhood, both Age of Ultron and Agent Carter have given us some glimpses into the brutal program that shaped her. We’ve seen scenes of girls in the Red Room killing each other in training and shooting live humans as target practice, and we know Natasha underwent forced sterilization as part of her “graduation ceremony.” Agent Carter also suggested the “students” were brainwashed through subliminal messages.

The scene outlined above was not in the final cut of the film, and it’s unclear how close it got to being included. It’s also difficult to say whether we should consider this scene “canon” when it doesn’t exist in the movie itself. But just as the Star Wars: The Force Awakens novelization shed new light on certain details that were omitted from the movie itself, this scene from the Civil War book gives Black Widow fans a little something new to mull over.

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