Warning: This feature contains Black Widow spoilers.
These are the Marvel villains who appear in the Black Widow movie. The MCU timeline places Black Widow during Captain America: Civil War and before the events of Avengers: Infinity War, so the Scarlett Johansson-led movie couldn't introduce major villains whose lack of interactions with the Avengers would require contrived explanations. The marketing for the movie featured Taskmaster — a popular Marvel mercenary who has crossed paths with the likes of the Avengers, the X-Men, and Deadpool in the comics — as the main villain, but the movie gives the assassin a twist.
Black Widow's anti-hero nature has let her come to blows with many notable villains and heroes in the comics. Natasha Romanoff has fought villainous characters like Madame Hydra, The Punisher, Crossbones, and Bullseye, and allies such as Hawkeye, Elektra, and the Winter Soldier. As a team player with the Avengers and other heroes, she has fought famous teams such as the Thunderbolts and the Sinister Six, but it's in the MCU that she has proved herself as a crucial player in the defeat of Loki, Ultron, Baron Zemo, and Thanos.
The Marvel villains who appear in Black Widow include one main antagonist, one brainwashed pawn, two cameo characters, and one unexpected hero. Although most of them differ quite a lot from their comic book counterparts, their live-action adaptation opens the door for many interesting possibilities in the future of the MCU.
General Dreykov is the actual main villain of Black Widow, and with good reason. He's the one who "created" the Black Widows in the Red Room and the one who turned Natasha Romanoff, Yelena Belova, and Melina Vostokova into lethal assassins. Dreykov also took advantage of Natasha's assassination attempt to enhance his injured daughter and transform her into the perfect assassin. Up until his death at the hands of Yelena, he continued to recruit vulnerable girls and turn them into more Black Widows in order to cause worldwide instability. Dreykov's role in Black Widow was set up as early as The Avengers, where Loki reminded Natasha that one of her most troubling crimes was murdering "Dreykov's daughter".
With the ability to copy and reproduce moves from other heroes and villains with incredible accuracy, Taskmaster promised to be the big bad of Black Widow. However, the movie not only reveals that the assassin was Dreykov's puppet, but also that the person under the mask is his daughter, Antonia. In the comics, Anthony Masters possesses the innate ability to copy and duplicate the fighting technique of anybody he sees, a skill he combines with his explosive personality and his peak physical condition to hunt down the Avengers and other powerful Marvel heroes. The movie instead gives Antonia a technological upgrade in the form of a chip after Natasha Romanoff fails to kill her and her father in an explosion. Antonia survives the events of Black Widow and recovers her freedom once Dreykov is dead, so Taskmaster's MCU future is left open-ended. Perhaps she will return with a much stronger personality and a more comic-accurate mask in the future.
Melina is introduced in Black Widow as a spy who served as Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova's maternal figure. After letting Dreykov take Natasha and Yelena to the Red Room, she continued to work for Dreykov as a Black Widow herself. However, she helps the heroes overthrow Dreykov and destroy the Red Room after reuniting with what once was her temporary family. In the comics, Melina Vostokoff is the villain Iron Maiden — a mercenary who has made it her mission to kill the Black Widow. The Black Widow movie includes an easter egg of the comic book character's mask in her weaponry storage room, but doesn't set up Melina's future as a villain.
William Hurt returns for his fourth MCU appearance in Black Widow after The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers: Infinity War. Although the trailers for Black Widow teased a de-aged General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, the final movie featured him right after the events of Captain America: Civil War as he chases Natasha Romanoff for violating the Sokovia Accords. Natasha manages to flee with ease, and Ross confronts the fugitive Avengers in Avengers: Infinity War, only to be quickly dismissed by Steve Rogers. In the comics, Ross becomes the Red Hulk and a recruit of the Thunderbolts — two events that could happen soon in the MCU with the possibility of Baron Zemo or Valentina de Fontaine assembling the anti-hero group.
With Black Widow originally slated to kick off Phase 4 and with no Avenger appearances of any sort, the least likely place to find a mutant in the MCU would be in Natasha Romanoff's first solo adventure. Surprisingly, the mutant super-soldier Ursa Major makes a brief appearance in the scene where Alexei is arm-wrestling his fellow prisoners. Although incredibly tall and strong, this Ursa evidently doesn't possess the X-gene, as Alexei promptly overpowers him, breaking his wrist.
Contessa Valentina Allegra De Fontaine
Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine returns after her appearance in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, where she recruited John Walker as US Agent, a member of her new team. In Black Widow, Val visits Natasha Romanoff's grave and provides Yelena with a mission: assassinate Hawkeye. The Black Widow post-credits scene sets up the plot of the Hawkeye Disney+ show and makes it appear as if both women have known each other for a long time, which suggests US Agent is not Val's first recruit. In the comics, a Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, but Black Widow doubles down on her upcoming role as the villainous equivalent of Nick Fury, though which team she's forming — the Thunderbolts or the Dark Avengers — remains to be seen.
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