Where would the Avengers be without Natasha Romanoff, aka the Black Widow? As the only female member of the original team, a superspy, a calculated fighter, and a sly negotiator, she's more than essential to the success and strength of the Avengers... and they'd, quite frankly, be lost without her.
As Nat (played by Scarlett Johansson since her first appearance in Iron Man 2) is one of the few remaining heroes post-Thanos' snap in Avengers: Infinity War, it feels right to look back on her best, brightest, and most telling moments throughout her years in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the world is long overdue for the promised Black Widow standalone film, we’ll have to look to other heroes’ titles — mostly Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is arguably Nat's greatest MCU film to date, as the movie's small hero ensemble gave her character more breathing room than usual.
Note the lack of any scenes from Avengers: Age of Ultron, which is popularly considered to have butchered Nat's character after so much time spent building her up. When taking into account what scenes are her best, we looked to moments that added to our understanding of her character and humanized her in our minds. Here they are, the Black Widow's 9 best MCU scenes, ranked.
Playing matchmaker, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Natasha is a multi-tasker extraordinaire. Winter Soldier's best ongoing bit is Nat's attempts to convince Steve to go on a date. She's not exactly successful and she seems to have a hard time nailing down Steve's type, but her dedication is without question. And with these asides, we see the Black Widow's sense of humor and how she expresses friendship — aggressively, but with the best of intentions.
Besting (and befriending) Steve Rogers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Steve Rogers is the perfect soldier and Nick Fury is "the spy," as Tony Stark once pointed out. So does that make Natasha the perfect soldier-spy? The perfect spy-soldier? The perfect partner in crime?
As Steve tries to figure out a big mystery surrounding Nick Fury, he's outsmarted by Natasha from the beginning and eventually teams up with her. This scene serves as proof that Nat would switch sides in Civil War and let Steve escape with Bucky Barnes — they're friends and have always worked well together. That smartass bubblegum pop is just the cherry on top.
"You’re right. It’s not. It’s hers," Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Technically, Steve Rogers says this line. But few things are more quintessentially Natasha than shoving a terrorist off a roof while Captain America looks on with a smile.
"This moron is giving me everything," The Avengers
Natasha had already shown off her acting skills in Iron Man 2. We haven't gotten to see much of Natasha's spy skills — as she's usually trying to help keep the Avengers in line when we do see her anymore — but her first couple of MCU appearances truly leaned into her spy background.
While the Black Widow has always been one to use her looks to her advantage, playing dumb enough to get a villain to monologue at you is a whole other skill set. It helped that this particular villain was, as she says, a "moron." We just hope Natasha was eventually able to finish up that mission once she helped the Avengers save the world.
Bonus: The chair fight.
"Did I step on your moment?," Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Natasha is wholly underappreciated for her one-liners. The best of them, though, is when she takes over the Security Council from Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) disguised as the Council's only female member. She delivers the line with that familiar wry humor we love, and the look on Pierce's face might be worth all the trouble Cap's team has gone through up to this point.
The only thing that might have made this moment better is if that had actually been Councilwoman Hawley (Jenny Agutter) kicking butt.
Consoling T’Challa, Captain America: Civil War
Before we ever really got to know the future king of Wakanda, Natasha was there to try and ease T'Challa's pain in the wake of his father's unexpected death.
Given the contention surrounding the Avengers during Civil War, it seems fair to say Natasha might be feeling a bit of guilt over King T'Chaka's death, but this is a rare moment of vulnerability from the Black Widow. We'll take any chance we can for Nat to make new friends, even if her initial kindness morphs into a warning to stay out of the fight.
Besting Loki, The Avengers
Loki's foul mouth aside, Natasha tricks the Asgardian trickster god to try to stop his plan before it's ever set into motion — not exactly an easy feat. In this instance, the Black Widow’s red ledger comes in handy.
That the Hulk still wreaks havoc on SHIELD's helicarrier was more due to the male Avengers' infighting than any fault of Nat's. No one else on the Avengers team could have managed such a feat, and Natasha deserves all the credit for such a masterful turn.
Proving everyone wrong, Iron Man 2
We first met Natasha in Iron Man 2, in which she went undercover as Pepper Potts' mysterious, beautiful assistant. As Tony Stark leered and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) mocked, Nat gathered intel and bested them both.
In this scene, she takes Happy down with a signature Widow move — proving Natasha's thighs are her most dangerous weapon — and leaves the Iron Man team flabbergasted. Happy probably thought twice the next time he was tempted to teach a girl a lesson.
The Black Widow makes the sacrifice play, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
To put a stop to HYDRA, Natasha is forced to reveal everything about her past by dumping all of SHIELD's files onto the internet. It's probably fair to say that SHIELD didn't know everything about Nat — she's the best at what she does for a reason. But the intel resulted in some of the troubles in Captain America: Civil War and will probably continue to haunt Natasha for the rest of her life.
However, the move also puts to shame any questions about Nat's loyalty and her willingness to do the right thing. Above all else, this proves what a true hero she is.