Black Widow Costume History
The first woman to take on the role of Black Widow (who was not an agent of Satan) was Natalia "Natasha" Alianovna Romanova. Her first appearance would be as a villain in the 1964 issue Tales of Suspense #52. Stan Lee, Don Rico and Don Heck created her to be a Russian spy working against Iron Man. She was one of the greatest spys the KGB ever had and when she switched sides she then became one of S.H.I.E.L.D’s greatest agents. Natasha has taken Red Room’s own version of the Super-Soldier Serum and although not to Captain America’s level, she is at peak physical condition and much older than she appears.
When we were first introduced to the Black Widow, she was not a costumed villain. Instead she would dress in regular clothes to blend in with the local background. Okay, maybe she dressed more like the female spies in a James Bond film but the point is the same, she wore the clothing people would wear while walking down the streets.
After a couple appearances she was given a uniform to wear on her missions. Although uniform might be a bit of a stretch. She looks like a cross between a superhero and streetwalker. I doubt very much that she was able to blend in and do much spying while wearing this getup. Black Widow was given a masquerade mask to hide her identity. Since capes were all the fashion in the comic book world, she had a small one that clasped together with a simple brooch. The brooch had the letter B on it, so her enemies knew who they were facing. She wore a tight black leather dress, that looked like something a dominatrix might have. This classy costume was topped off with a fishnet that covered the rest of her body. The dress would remain black but the rest of the costume would switch between solid blue or black. Sometime the fishnet would be colored in and at other times the skin could be seen underneath.
As classy as Natasha’s previous costume was, they decided to change in up in the 1970 issue of Amazing Spider-Man #86. This new costume would be much more popular and become her trademark look. Many of her future costumes will be variations of the one seen here. Gadgets and weaponry would be added, the colors of the clothes might fluctuate and they will often update her belt with the times but this is the look she continually goes back to.
Don’t let the skin tight black bodysuit fool you. Just because there is not a curve on her body hidden in the outfit does not mean she is not well protected. It is made from a special fabric that protects her from extreme temperatures and small-arms fire. There are also suction cups to help her climb smooth surfaces. To add some color to this solid black costume, Natasha often wore a yellow belt (with hidden weapons) and bracelets that were actually formidable armaments.
Most of our heroes in the Marvel Universe had their costumes redesigned in the 80’s. Natasha did not change much but did have some slight alterations made to her outfit. The biggest change would be going from an all black costume to an all grey costume (HUGE). Since she was still the Black Widow, a black spider was put on the left side of her chest and a huge black widow was put on her back. For a while all her accessories were removed. Rather than relying on gadgets, she used her amazing fighting skills.
This costume would be worn through the 80s and when the 90s came around they just threw a jacket over her regular costume. Personally I think the Jacket made her look like Scarlett from GI Joe. However, she did get her weapon bracelets back.
The Jacket was not working so they came up with a new costume for Natasha to wear. This new Black Widow costume would be much more stylized. She went back to the black bodysuit but to stress the black widow part, she used red to accent the costume. There were eight red stripes that ran across her sides and legs to simulate spider legs. So as not to ruin the spider leg affect, she wore a weapon strap around her leg instead of a belt around her waist. To keep up with the red theme, her famous bracelets were sometimes painted red.
Back to Basics
After trying out several different costumes Natasha decided to go back to her classic look. Some modern updates were put into the design without sacrificing the sleek black appearance. Rather than having this costume be a one piece of tight fitting fabric, it would now appear to have sections that were put together seamlessly. In many interpretations this costume actually shines as if it were made of a latex or rubber material. The belt had a clear red hourglass on the buckle to represent a black widow. This was a nice subtle touch for a spy, as opposed to her previously blatant spider suit. For the first time we have been able to see how she is able to get into this outfit, with the placement of a zipper on the front. I am not sure if this was added because people were wondering how she changed or if she was competing with other heroines like Catwoman who prefer the partially zipped approach when getting dressed in a hurry.
The second Black Widow to be trained after Natalia "Natasha" Romanova defected from Russia was Yelena Belova. She first appeared in the 1999 issue of Inhumans #5 and had her backstory explained in the three issue miniseries Black Widow:Pale Little Spider released in 2002. Yelena was trained by Pyotr Starkovsky, who also originally trained Natasha. Yelena continually felt inferior to the famous Natalia Romanova and would become obsessed with defeating her.
Yelena’s costume is very similar to the classic Black Widow look. Except, her outfit comes in two distinct separate pieces. She wears a black, skin tight, long sleeve shirt that fully exposes her midriff. She is obviously very proud of her abdominal workout routine. Her pants are just as skin tight as other Black Widow costumes but hers comes with belt loops, justifying her need to wear a belt. Yelena’s belt band is very plain and the buckle has a simple red hourglass to represent her codename. Belova wears a pair of weapon bracelets that have become identified with the Black Widow.
In the Ultimate Universe Natasha ended up being a traitor and was eventually killed by Hawkeye, with an arrow between her eyes. The ex-wife of Nick Fury, Monica Chang, would become the next Black Widow and become the first Asian-American to take on the role of Black Widow. Working with the Avengers she decided to keep the codename despite the teams recent betrayal by Natasha.
Monica Chang’s Black Widow outfit is an advanced battle armor. It makes her much more capable of hanging with the heavy hitters like Thor, Iron Man and Captain America. This all black costume is divided up into different plates. The only added color is a small red hourglass on the belt section. Unlike previous Black Widow costumes, Monica would have her head fully covered with only her eyes exposed. It gives her the appearance of a ninja, ready for battle.
Scarlett Johansson: Marvel is trying to create a movie universe in which characters from one movie exist and appear in other films related to the Marvel franchise. Actors now sign contracts to not only appear in their own movie title sequels but other movies based in the same Universe. We were first introduced to Black Widow in Iron Man 2, when Scarlett Johansson came on screen to keep an eye on Robert Downey Jr.’s character, Tony Stark/Iron Man. Black Widow then had a bigger part in the Avengers movie released two years later. In Avengers we learn a lot more about this ex KGB agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The Halloween Costumes are similar to the versions used in the movies and thus her classic look.
Even with Black Widow Costumes available in most Halloween shops, fans and models will often make their own more detailed versions.
Google Images (Images appeared on several sites and was unsure of original)
And of course: Reading way too many comic books.
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